Blk 1002, Toa Payoh Lor 8, 01-1477, Singapore 319074 Tel: 6254-3326, 9668-6469, 9668-6468.
24 July, 2015
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, turtles &
Research - Cats
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written: Dec 21, 2009 Update:
24 July, 2015
Dec 18, 2009, I agreed to an interview by Ms Amanda Wong,
Media Journalist from the Straits Times Razor TV,
Here are her questions:
1. How is declawing
2. What are the reasons for it?
3. Is it harmful to the animal?
4. Are there many people who request for declawing to be done
to their cats? Who are these people? How many to date? Is
there an increase?
5. What is your personal view towards it? Why do you choose to
provide this service?
Surgery under general anaesthesia - remove the 3rd toe bone
(phalanx). An illustration was given. Now, there are video
clips of a cat being declawed in the webpage. These
are NOT cases from Toa Payoh
Vets but it would appear to be since it was included in the
It was taken from the internet. I told Ms Amanda Wong that I
had not done any declawing surgery for the past 9 years and I
would not the appropriate interviewee. Most
likely, she could not find other vets to talk about declawing
as activists deem declawing "cruel" and so no vets will want
to be interviewed.
According to "My Paper", 6/10 vets reported an increase in
request for declawing. Certainly, I do not have any request
for declawing in the last 9 years as regards my area of
Two reasons I would do declawing as a last resort and after
asking the owners to wait 1-2 weeks to re-consider. These are
damage to property and injury to family and other pets. These
are the two of various reasons cats are euthanased or sent to
the animal shelter where they may be put to sleep.
Besides anaesthetic risks, there may be
post-operation complications like bleeding and
infection. As in any surgery, asepsis, antibiotics and
pain-killers prevent most complications.
There is the worry from cat lovers that the cat will
have behavioural problems like being more aggressive.
However, there are owners who say that the cat becomes more
gentle. The big worry is that the cat can't defend itself when
attacked. This is unlikely in an indoor cat.
Nobody has requested for cat declawing in the past
9 years in my practice. I can only
remember one case where I advised buying a scratching post and
clipping the cat nails regularly and the owner did not
continue further. In fact, there is a trend for younger owners
not to declaw.
My personal view is that I will perform the surgery only when
the cat-owner relationship is strained such that the cat will
be sent to the animal shelter where it will be put to sleep or
the cat owner will need to get the cat put to sleep.
Failure in training e.g. use of a solid scratching post,
anti-clawing spray, nail caps, food treats for positive
reinforcement training, balloons, noises, water guns, noisy
paper wrapping over furniture and weekly nail clipping during
the 1-2 week cooling off period.
If the owner still can't resolve the problem, declawing is
preferred to euthanasia. Many young children feel distressed
when the cat is euthanased due to parents having to do it if
they don't have declawing as an option. In such instances, I
will perform the surgery.
I had told Amanda
Wong, I do not have any declawing surgeries in the last 9
years. I advised training of the cat.
needs time, patience and perseverance.
Get a strong scratching post for the new kitten. Train
it to use the scratching post or give it an unwanted
piece of carpet to declaw.
Firm verbal commands when the kitten starts clawing
furniture and give treats on success may
be effective if done consistently and at an early age.
Clip nails weekly for older cats. Do not
grab, grip or play tug-of-war with kittens as they may
scratch out of defence.
"You have got the wrong
vet to interview. You need to interview a vet who performs
such surgeries recently," I said to her. She said she was
interviewing other vets. She asked me whether declawing was a
recent American concept.
I said declawing had been practised for some 40 years or more
but nowadays the younger generation in Singapore does not
favour declawing as it is cruel. I was surprised that she said
that there was an increase in demand for cat declawing.
She asked why I did
not have any cases since a newspaper dated Dec 14, 2009 said
that 6/10 vets interviewed reported an increase in demand.
"Maybe it is the type of cat owners in Toa Payoh and the
surrounding neighbourhood," I said. "My clients do not buy
expensive cats or I don't get their cats for
declawing. I don't know."
is one of the subjects that vets don't want to be interviewed
if they perform declawing as the animal rights activists will
put them in the "declawing hall of shame" and there is one
It would not be good for the veterinary
However, many cat owners need to be educated that regular nail
clipping and the provision of a strong scratching post or
training the cat to use the
scratching post is the
possible solution to destructive damage of expensive sofas,
cupboards and curtains or scratching injuries to children and
I don't do declawing
on demand. In
agreeing to Ms
Amanda Wong's interview, I risk getting named and shamed
by animal rights activists.
It is best to bring out the declawing
issues in the open to educate the younger Singapore cat owners
as to the alternatives to declawing.
Animal rights activists must understand that cats are family
members and if the cats have to be put to sleep or sent to the
animal shelter to be put to sleep, declawing may be needed to
save the cat's life.
on December 21, 2009: Ms Amanda Wong had asked me during the interview as to
whether cat declawing is an American way of thinking and a new
idea. I said that declawing had been done by cat owners from
other nationalities and that it was done more than 40 years
After the interview
and saying that I did not have cat declawing surgeries for the
past nine years, the Divine powers from above sent me this
case on Dec 21, 2009 to test me apparently.
On a fine sunshine Monday morning of Dec 21, 2009 when I
thought I would go for some photography, I had an appointment
at 10 am for a cat neuter. The Caucasian American woman sent
her 6-month-old cat in for neutering as she did not want the
cat to urine-mark the apartment. "He produces a strong urine
smell if I don't neuter him," she cited the reason for
At least 10 red scratch marks from 1 cm to 3 cm lined her
right wrist and hand. This cat had scratched her. "My son has
cat scratches on his face. One time, his tongue and lips were
scratched," she said.
"Why would the cat scratch him?" I could not understand.
"Well, he held onto to the cat when the cat wanted to get
away." I did not comment although it seemed to me that there
was some rough play from the boy and the cat scratched him to
She continued, "When this cat wanted attention past midnight,
he would scratch the side of the bed to wake me up to play. I
really needed the sleep." She was more concerned about her
son's facial injuries and asked me with solemn eyes, "What is
your personal view about declawing?"
"I have not performed declawing for the past nine years," I
said. "I will ask owners to take a week to review as
declawing is deemed a cruel act to cats. Have you talked to
your husband and family members?"
"Are you able to perform declawing?' the lady wondered whether
I was up to scratch since I said I had not done one for the
past 9 years. Whether I was competent enough to do it.
"It is a simple surgery, unlike liver, heart or stomach
surgery," I said. "You need to discuss the declawing issues
with your husband and family first."
Her husband whom I had not met had not minded the cat waking
him past midnight to play. She went home and phoned me later
to say that her husband was against declawing.
This was one American who was against declawing. Declawing
appeared to be an "American culture" as apparently stated by
another vet interviewed by Ms Amanda Wong. This was a strange
episode, as if the Divine Powers had sent me a case to test my
handling of a prospective declawing case and to show me that
not all Americans want their cats declawed.
My December 18, 2009 interview by Ms Amanda Wong of 2 vets and 1 cat owner