Laser surgery to declaw a cat involves amputating the first digit of each toe with a CO2 laser or radiosurgery unit, according to All Feline Hospital. The tissue is cauterized, which helps to minimize bleeding and swelling, and the skin incision is closed with either a suture or skin glue. Bandages are applied to the feet and, depending on which type of laser method was used, can be removed as early as the following day.
With adequate pain control, cats recover from laser surgery quickly and behave as though nothing happened, states All Feline Hospital. Adult cats take longer to recover and, even when pain control is utilized, can experience hypersensitivity in the toe nerves. This can cause pain whenever the cat puts pressure on the feet and toes. Medications are effective in some cases.
Additionally, cats may develop calluses on their paws, as removing the end bones changes the cushioning of the feet when they stand, notes All Feline Hospital. Some people believe cats experience phantom pain in the limbs that were removed, similar to human amputees.
Cats that have been declawed no longer have their primary defense mechanism against other cats and predators, according to All Feline Hospital. Generally, declawed cats should be raised as indoor cats.