While declawing can be a controversial topic, it's possible to discuss the procedure civilly and consider the impact the procedure will have on your cat. Like any procedure, there are risks, three of which will be outlined more thoroughly below.
Risk of Infection
When surgeries are performed, it's important for the area to be properly sterilized and prepped for the procedure. Unfortunately, due to the location of your cat's claws and how they're connected to the paw itself, proper sterilization isn't possible.
Sterility isn't the only reason that infections can occur following a declawing procedure, however. Another common reason for infections developing occurs due to improper removal of the nail (leaving enough behind so that a nail will grow back improperly). While these issues may be preventable to a certain degree, depending on the veterinarian's experience and technique, the risk of infection cannot be removed entirely.
Risk of Abscess Formation
When an infection occurs, pus can collect underneath the skin, causing swelling and pain. This is an abscess, and it can be dangerous if not treated immediately.
Abscesses can form even if your cat's wounds are being cared for properly. Unfortunately, when it comes to treating abscesses, a simple course of antibiotics won't do it. Instead, your cat will be required to undergo another procedure, known as incision and drainage, to properly clean the wound and ensure that the infection doesn't have a chance to spread further or even enter the bloodstream. While this complication likely won't leave your cat with any lasting physical deformity, it will be painful and perhaps even traumatic.
Risk of Behavioral Changes
Like humans, cats have a variety of personalities. Some cats may be more sensitive than others and a traumatic experience, such as a non-medically necessary procedure, may be enough to cause your cat's behavior to change.
Docile cats may easily become nervous and inflexible. While your cat will no longer be able to scratch at your furniture, carpeting, and curtains, they will likely find other ways to act out their nervous behaviors. This is especially true if your cat suffered from anxiety or other behavioral issues prior to the procedure. Unfortunately, declawing isn't always the answer to your cat's constant scratching and clawing and these behaviors may manifest in other destructive ways.
There are risks to consider with any medical procedure. If the risks of this procedure have you double-guessing your decision, considering speaking with a veterinarian (such as one from Grove Center Veterinary Hospital) or a pet behaviorist. Your veterinarian can better inform you of the risks involved in the procedure, and a behaviorist can help you to determine whether the procedure would be beneficial for your cat and whether their issues can be otherwise addressed.