Declaw Salvage Surgery

Declaw salvage surgery occurs when a vet repairs the damage done to a cat by the declaw surgery of another vet² which usually entails the removal of the last phalange of each of the ten toes of the forepaws of the cat. The world’s best known veterinarian who does declaw salvage surgery is Dr. Jennifer Conrad of the Paw Project. She is an expert in salvage surgery on large declawed wild cats as well as domestic cats.

Vets do the declawing operation (onychectomy) very quickly. We don’t know how many of the operations are done well or badly. No one is keeping records. Someone should. In my opinion, all the operations are bad because the operation should not be done in the first place. Some of these operations are doubly bad because the veterinary surgeon screws up. And you know, if a vet screws up once, you can bet your bottom dollar he screws up over and over again, turning out disabled cats like this one (Trinity) in the video below:

This is the same cat after the declaw salvage surgery:

You want to know how botched and bad the operation can be? Click on this link and be flabergasted

I like the terminology “declaw salvage surgery”. It is the first time I have read it. It is very descriptive. A vet doing post-declaw repair work is salvaging what is left of the disabled cat. The cat will never be the same as a cat with claws but the repair work at least removes the pain and gives the cat back a bit of that part of her life that she lost when a declaw vet amputated the tips of ten of her toes.

I think the vet who did the declaw salvage surgery on Trinity is Letrisa Miller DVM.

There is a substantial risk of complications after declawing surgery. There is always tons of pain and piles of strong painkillers after the surgery and that is putting to one side all the other stuff like psychological damage which vets don’t understand.

Please don’t declaw your cat. The are many alternatives all of which are a million times better.

Search result for “declawing” on PoC.


  1. Sometimes videos don’t work because of something that happened on YouTube. I can’t control that.
  2. I suppose the same vet could repair the botch he made but I suspect it is usually a different vet who does the repair work.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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32 Responses

  1. Mel says:

    Are there any vets in South Texas that has experience with the salvage procedure. Is there a web site that has vets who focus on this type of help?

    • Hi Mel. There is no website listing declaw salvage surgery vets. There are very few who do this. I would contact Dr Doub in Utah and see whether she can recommend someone. It sounds like poor advise but as I said declaw salvage surgery is a new idea and most vets do the opposite 😉

    • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

      You can contact The Paw Project via their website Mel. Branches are starting to spring up in various cities as more vets are speaking out against declawing, I’m sure they will help you find a vet who repairs declawed cats paws.

  2. Physical Consequences of Declawing – If you haven’t shared this yet, you really should. The vet who posted this info has given permission to share it if you provide a link back to the site (mostly info on site). Her name is Dr. Jean Hofve (rhymes with Bon Jovi). She’s in Colorado and supports efforts to ban declawing there and elsewhere.

    Comparitive photos and x-rays between declawed cats and those with healthy paws. If you click on the first photo on her page, you will see more photos in the slide show than are displayed on the page. None are gross.

  3. All homeless cats deserve to get adopted, but did you know that declawing reduces possible homes for cats waiting to be adopted?

    14.5% of adoptable declawed cats were listed as NOT suitable for homes with young children vs. 8.64% of non declawed cats*.

    *Using data crunched from March 11, 2013.

    Declawing is illegal in many other countries and needs to be prohibited in Canada and the USA too.

    Photo of JJ, a cat who started biting after being declawed. He was such a danger to her kids that the woman had to either rehome him or euthanize him. My brother took him in. The cat bit my mom while she was visiting (she told him to “Shoo!” and waved her hand to scare him away from the door); within a day or so she required IV antibiotics in the emergency department because the bite was deep and appeared infected.

    JJ started having more issues when my brother took in another cat who’d been abandoned. When my brother found he was travelling too much and didn’t have anyone to look after his cats, we took JJ in and had to keep him separate from other cats.

    We rehomed JJ with my aunt who’s kids were grown. When he was covered with a blanket, JJ bit her grandson who’d been warned to leave the kitty alone. JJ lived with her for several years until he died of old age.

    JJ’s original owner could have saved money by not declawing him. He might have been able to stay in his original home and not cost taxpayers money for biting my mom if he’d never been declawed in the first place. This issue is also one of consumer protection, public health, reducing costs as well as ethical concerns and accountability of the veterinary industry in North America.

    • Michael says:

      14.5% of adoptable declawed cats were listed as NOT suitable for homes with young children vs. 8.64% of non declawed cats*.

      This completely undermines the vet’s feeble argument that they declaw to save cat’s lives by preventing cat relinquishment. How cynical can vet’s be?

    • Michael says:

      I’ll make this comment into an article, Christine.

  4. The Guidelines on medically unnecessary veterinary surgery published by the CVO (College of Veterinarians of Ontario, the association that governs them)

    It is VERY dog-centric to oppose declawing, “except in domestic cats” and to ban the removal of dew claws but still permit the amputation of one third of ten (or more) weight bearing digits on felines.

    Discussing the CVO (College of Veterinarians of Ontario)
    “Medically Unnecessary Veterinary Surgery (“Cosmetic Surgery”)” publication, from March 21, 2012,
    See pdf that includes info from other provinces in Canada –

    Cosmetic surgery, such as (on dogs) removing dew claws or cropping ears and tails to conform to breed standards is already illegal, considered misconduct or unprofessional conduct in four provinces in Canada:

    Newfoundland/Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI.

    No provincial association opposes onychectomy (declawing), except “in species other than the domestic cat”.

    That means they oppose declawing dogs, rabbits, etc, but not cats.

    The CVMA opposes declawing wild felids in captivity, but that’s just a position statement, not a regulation, and it is still happening.

    The huge majority of feline declawing is NOT medically necessary, but it isn’t even mentioned in the list below!

    “Surgeries that could be considered Medically Unnecessary”

    “The list below is not inclusive and will be amended over time as the profession’s views evolve.

    canine tail dock > 4 days (96 hours) of age
    canine ear crop
    canine debarking
    canine dewclaw removal
    canine or feline healthy tooth extraction/blunting
    canine or feline cosmetic eye surgery
    dairy cattle tail dock
    equine tail nick/set or tail dock
    equine ear setting”

  5. Veterinarian Oath published on the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) website.

    Only vets who are members must take the Oath. Vets only have to belong to their provincial association that governs them, not the Canadian one. I have not found a similar oath on the site governing Ontario veterinarians.

    The position of “Paws with Claws – Ban Declawing in Ontario is since declawing causes unnecessary pain and suffering when there are humane alternatives, and the long-term physical consequences are devastating and all vets should be educated about them, declawing should not be permitted (only exceptions would be those listed in petition – .

    Veterinarian Oath

    “As a member of the veterinary medical profession, I solemnly swear that I will use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society.

    I will strive to promote animal health and welfare, relieve animal suffering, protect the health of the public and environment, and advance comparative medical knowledge.

    I will practise my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

    I will strive continuously to improve my professional knowledge and competence and to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards for myself and the profession.”

    – CVMA 2004 –
    – From

  6. I have to discuss the interview idea with Camille. She was interviewed out of the blue by CBC radio. This issue definitely needs exposure and the law changed. If I had my way it would include all wild carnivores in captivity as well (like the ban in the USA).

    Picture of petition to “Save as”. I meant to include the Ontario petition. Ontario residents of any age may sign. Blank, unsigned pages can be photocopied and given out.
    I suggest grouping signatures by provincial riding (everyone with the same member of Parliament sign the same page. Once signatures are obtained and sent to address at bottom, they are then mailed to the MPP represented by the majority of the signatures on the page. The signed pages cannot be photocopied, so they can only be mailed to the one MPP, that’s why I recommend grouping signatures by political ridings.)

    • Michael says:

      What I would like to understand better is the mental process that takes place in vets who decide to stop declawing. They must reach a point where they can no longer justify or accept it. What is the mentality? Is it because they learnt the truth: that declawing is unnecessary and it can cause disability, putting aside for the moment the ghastly amount of pain it causes. You would have thought that all vets know all about it but continue because it makes lots of money. A terrible abdication of their responsibility towards the cat and a big breach of their worthless oath.

  7. “Some 37.7 per cent of Canadian households include one, often two, cats, compared to 30 per cent with dogs.” (source –

    Human Population of Canada: 34.88 million (2012)

    37.7 per cent of that is 13,149,760 owned cats.

    25 per cent of the cat population is estimated to be declawed.
    That’s about 3,287,440 Canadian cats!

    If there are more people acquiring cats vs. dogs, this is a growing issue.
    (My city has four vet clinics. All declaw cats. Here’s a video one clinic provided on their website. As you can see, no info on alternatives is provided with this video. Commenting allowed –

    • Michael says:

      Christine. Thanks a lot for these excellent comment. I need a bit of time to digest them, then I’ll respond. For your information the reason why 2 of your comments were not published immediately is because software picks up links in comments and holds them for moderation. That is all.

    • Michael says:

      I had believed that there was slightly less declawing in Canada than America. That seems to be incorrect.

  8. Deidre Muñiz has her own group and a legal petition to ban declawing in Canada. My understanding is that it’s more difficult to change federal laws than provincial ones. Online petitions are not accepted to change laws in Canada, only printed ones. The info and link is here:

    Camille created a printable petition for the province of Ontario. The petition can be emailed, otherwise the photo of it can be printed off the Facebook page here – Ban Declawing “Paws with Claws” (Facebook page) –

    The existing short interview with Dr. Gaskin is really worth reading or listening to. The transcript is provided in my above post.

    In other news, a group in Nova Scotia appears to be on track to ban declawing in that province and have given many vets congratulatory certificates who have agreed not to declaw cats. Link to their Facebook page – Ban Declawing in Nova Scotia –

    CBC news: “Cat declawing to be reviewed by Nova Scotia vets” –

  9. The surgery on this cat was done by Dr. Ronald Gaskin of MS Vets in Minnesota. That is his YouTube channel. He used to declaw cats but stopped when he realized the damage that was being done, especially how the deformities and problems get worse over time. He has educational videos on the surgery on his website under “Declaw Salvage”. Site is

    I’ve spoken with Dr. Gaskin a few times by telephone. Since he has such amazing knowledge of paw anatomy, he stated that declawing was “Much worse than people realize.” I’ve sent photos of x-rays of two of our rescued declawed cats paws to Dr. Gaskin and others are welcome to do the same to contribute to the research (x-rays obtained by digital dental sensor are much more useful and detailed, if you can get them).

    Check out out the PowerPoint presentation. – It has up close macro photos of the digital pad callouses and x-rays on the paws of declawed cats.

    His clinic sponsored the showing of the “Paw Project Movie” in his city of Shakopee, MN. He’s working on a research paper on the subject and is a supporter of banning the surgery.

    This is a link to a terrific interview he did with Animal Ark shelter:

    “The Systematic Multilation of America’s Most Popular Pets-
    Animal Ark to partner with local veterinarian to provide relief for suffering cats”

    I’m a member of the group trying to educate and change the law about declawing cats in my province of Ontario, Canada.

    • Michael says:

      Thank you for commenting Christine. Well done is fighting this horrible practice. When is Canada going to ban declawing? Or Ontario? Was is Ontario who had ideas about banning declawing?

      Could you do an interview of Dr Gaskin for this site (PoC)? I’ll pay for it if you can arrange it and if it is for the exclusive use of PoC.

  10. Leah says:

    It is heart breaking just horrible, even without starting the video I can clearly see that Trinity has stumps not normal paws 🙁 if someone saw that who had no clue about de-clawing or what it was they would think ‘ oh what a shame she has a birth defect’ after all thats the only other thing that would cause such a deformity! And the brave little soul trying her best to run to that box it made my so damn angry to think that someone did that for money!!!

    Thank God there are compassionate dedicated individuals who can help with the pain of these horrible surgeries and groups like The Paw project who have made amazing strides to get the barbaric practice banned!!

  11. Jo Singer says:

    The truth came out about the money making aspect of declawing here in the USA. One veterinarian in the DVD bragged that he does as many as he can in one day. Not only that he refused to use the better “glue” following the amputation because it took 8 seconds rather than 2 seconds with the “cheaper” glue. After all, seconds count when you want to do as many as you can in one day..

    Several vets in the Paw Project DVD suggest that ALL their feline patients are declawed and it’s just dandy to brutalize and maim kittens when they are at least 2 pounds in weight- tiny babies robbed of their essential claws on the advise of a “trusted ” vet. It makes me want to scream and vomit.

    No education, no information about what is done to these kitties- no alternatives offered. It’s just for the holy dollar that these unethical vets spew out their cruelty to animals.

    Seems to me that vets take a vow to “do no harm”- these vets should be sanctioned. Sorry for rambling- after I watched the Paw Project DVD I am “All fired up and ready to go”. Please donate to the Paw Project and get the DVD- it will be sent almost immediately after they receive the donation! Invite all your cat loving friends for a film “festival” – to view it- and implore them to spread the word.

    Together we make a difference- together we can help stop this atrocity in the US and Canada once and for all.

  12. Ruth (Monty's Mom) says:

    Her weight is shifted posteriorly as compared to a cat with intact paws. It has to be because the weight bearing structure, the distal phalanx, is gone. She’s walking more comfortably, but she’s still walking on stumps, as is every declawed cat. If only the claw were taken that would be bad, but it would not affect gait. If cats were not digitigrades and part of their toes were taken that is still bad and horrifically painful, but it would have a lesser effect on gait. But cats are digitigrades. They walk on their toes. The part of their paws that bear weight when they walk is removed. That makes declawing of cats beyond bad, beyond horrific, into the category of unthinkable– so bad it should never even be considered. But it’s done all the time. Trinity is better in the second video, but she is not walking normally. She will never walk normally again.

    • Michael says:

      You’re right. She leads with her “heel” actually the back of her toes. The paw flaps down on the ground. There are some horrendous videos of pumas who have declawed walking like this.

  13. Rose says:

    I was in tears seeing that poor cat limping along it’s obvious those rotten vets don’t care they cripple cats.
    What a wonderful thing vets like Jennifer Conrad and Letrisa Miller and others like them do it must be horrible for them knowing that their fellow vets who axe cats toes off don’t care about the damage they do.
    It’s too horrible and it has to stop.

  14. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    Thank you for this article Michael, I just knew you would make a good job of it!
    I think the vets who do not declaw and who also dedicate themselves to repairing cats paws mutilated by the butchers who masquerade as vets, truly are the people who were meant to be vets! They not only stick to their oath to cause no animal to suffer but also try to stop the suffering caused by those other vets who fill their bank accounts with blood money.
    I don’t see how those declawing vets can pretend that declawing is not cruel, they must know it ruins cats lives.
    Such a difference in Trinity but as Babz said, she’s stuck with those stumps forever and that should never be, that cats are forced to live disabled lives because of cruel surgery which should be banned worldwide!

    • Marc says:

      Poor little Trinity – she does look alot better now but you can still tell she walks very meekly and without confidence.. The first video is shocking and awful really.

      It just made me happy to see her tail swinging around happily in the second video – a good sign she is feeling much better.

      Far from ideal though.

    • Michael says:

      My pleasure Ruth. Thanks for finding the videos.

      I don’t see how those declawing vets can pretend that declawing is not cruel, they must know it ruins cats lives.

      I think a lot vets just don’t care what the result is. They know they can get away with bad surgery. I get the impression that some of them think they are cutting paper when they cut off the last phalange of a toe. No vet gets sued for bad, disabling surgery do they? No vet gets banned from being a vet for consistently screwing up. Vets are not really doctors although in the states they like to call themselves doctors. They have a much lower level of responsibility because animals are far less important than people. This creates carelessness.

  15. Barbara says:

    What a difference, that poor little cat was so brave, still trying to get around and play with the box but you could see she was in pain. The after video was bitter-sweet, I could see how much better she was walking, running almost, but also could see her little short feet that she is stuck with forever. Cats are so brave and will always try to make the best of their lot, but this shouldn’t happen, no healthy cat should be subject to surgery that will run their paws and often their lives. My heartfelt thanks go to Dr Miller DVM for helping Trinity, how awful that one veterinarian should have to put right the devastation caused by another. Please, as Michael says, do not declaw your cat.

    • Michael says:

      My thanks to Ruth for finding the videos. Ruth (Monty’s mom) says that you can always tell a cat who has been declawed by the way they walk even if the cat is not in pain or discomfort. The lack of paws affects the gait.

      It is good to see this cat able to use what was an unusable paw but we still don’t know how the cat feels or whether she has discomfort but just puts up with it. As you say bitter-sweet.

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