Why Cats Should Not Be Declawed

De-clawing is literally maiming a cat. It is illegal and termed “inhumane” and “unnecessary mutilation” in most countries of the world because of its crippling effects, not only physically, but emotionally and behaviorally. De-clawing may result in permanent lameness, arthritis, and other long-term complications. Many de-clawed cats suffer from depression and some case studies of cats that have suffered negative health effects due to this selfishly convenient, mostly American, cruel practice.

De-clawing is a serious surgery. It is not merely a trimming of the toenails, but an amputation of the last joint or bone of your cat’s “toes”. Envision this painful operation and its painful recovery period in which your cat still has to use his feet to walk, jump, and scratch in his litter box regardless of the pain and discomfort he is experiencing and you can understand why it is not a humane act. There are no wheelchairs or bedpans for cats.

Cats by nature are very self-sufficient and will try to hide their pain. De-clawed cats may begin to exhibit unacceptable behaviors that will do damage instead of prevent damage in your home, as they try to compensate for their discomfort.

Urine damage and property destruction are major ongoing results of de-clawing. They can’t dig properly in their litter box so they will often find a more comfortable place to urinate like your living room carpet or they may spray against your kitchen cupboards or doors. Urine penetrates deeper than any claws do once it gets in your drywall and floorboards! You may also experience chewing damage to things like wood furniture and cords.

De-clawing also deprives your cat of his primary means of defense, leaving him prey to predators if he ever escapes outside. A cat’s claws are vital to his sense of balance, mobility, survival, and to his sense of security. They feel helpless, naked, powerless, vulnerable, and often become hostile to people, including you, and are more apt to bite – teeth can penetrate much deeper than claws!

Your cat’s claws give him the grace, agility and beauty that is unique to felines. Amputating this important part of his anatomy drastically alters the conformation of his feet. Most cat guardians would not allow their cat to have this surgery if the word ‘amputate’ was used. The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) is “opposed to cosmetic surgeries and to those performed to correct ‘vices’. De-clawing generally is unacceptable because the suffering and disfigurement it causes is not offset by any benefits to the cat. De-clawing is done strictly to provide convenience to people.”

There are many veterinarians who refuse to de-claw or who de-claw only under extreme duress or medical emergencies. To me, the sign of a true and caring veterinarian is one that is respectful of your cats mind, soul and body.

The following is a list of countries in which de-clawing cats is either illegal or considered extremely inhumane and only performed under extraordinary circumstances: England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Portugal, Belgium, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and Yugoslavia.

You can discourage your cat from scratching in forbidden places by placing aluminum foil or duct tape over that area temporarily because cats do not like to scratch these types of surfaces. A squirt of water, loud noise or whistle can also deter him during the training period. If you choose to trim your kitty’s nails, keep in mind that he won’t be able to scratch as effectively and as powerfully as he desires and has strength for. Read more about trimming your cat’s claws here.

My home is filled with scratching posts that I bought from our local pet supply retailer that my cat, Maui, has loved to use since he was a kitten. He has never even thought about using our sofas or chairs! But for those who adopt adult pets or have a little more trouble trying to train their cats, look at this. Developed by a veterinarian, Soft Paws are vinyl nail caps that are applied to your cat’s claws. This amazing product effectively covers the claws so no damage occurs when your cat scratches. They will fall off with the natural growth of your cat’s nails, at which time you replace them as needed. But again, use discernment, as they may prevent your kitty from climbing up his post.

Since scratching is a natural behavior for your cat, you don’t want to take that away from him. Scratching is one way cats place their mark and establish their turf. Their paws also contain scent glands that leave their own special scent on their territory. It also serves to provide your cat exercise to keep him in good shape. The act of scratching stretches and pulls and works the muscles of a cat’s front quarters. Read more about how to introduce your cat to scratching posts here.

Depending on your kitty’s age, and his personality, and the amount of love, devotion and patience you convey to him, he will learn to use his new post for his scratching pleasure.


Written by Janis Cooper
Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!

7 comments on “Why Cats Should Not Be Declawed

Anne November 25, 2015
@Greg Dolecki We have many other articles on the site which address other aspects. You are more than welcome to look up case studies and data and provide the links to actual published studies here. :)
greg dolecki November 24, 2015
I think this article is short on actual facts that demonstrate why declawing is so awful.  You don't need to convince me.  I don't disagree, but to sell people on the idea you need case studies and real demonstrations.  Let's see a list of case studies where the perfect cat was declawed and became a monster that bit everyone and peed on the living room couch.  Do you understand? We need data instead of talk about the beauty of feline grace.  Let's hear about all of the cats that were physically crippled because of declawing. Are you getting the idea that I am trying to put across?
jadeleaf May 24, 2015
I do not agree with declawing.  I have a friend who had both his cats declawed because they're indoor cats but I just don't agree with the idea of that, it's cruel to put them through pain just because they want a scratch free house.  That'd be like the equivalent of inviting someone to live with you but cutting their FEET off because you don't want them to walk dirt into the house >:(    I do my cat's nail clipping myself (it's just too awkward to take them to vets/groomers to do it), which I've been told is dangerous as I've not been "trained" but really I only take the tips (the sharp little ends off) just to make them less likely to catch in carpets and rugs (and to stop them getting their claws in my bedding, which they sleep on).  It doesn't take more than two or three minutes per cat, putting a load of food down on the bed and holding them from behind while they munch as I clip seems to help tremendously.  It really isn't a hardship doing it.     Their nails DO get like razors, especially Sabbath's, who loves to sharpen them on the scratcher.  I use a human nail clipper and clip sideways which seems to work rather well, never splits the nail.  I also use a very bright desk top extending lamp so I can see what I'm doing and can see where the nail would start bleeding it so I can cut well below it to not hurt my cats.   I do notice on occasion that Sabbath sheds his old nails a bit like a husk (especially if I don't clip his nails often).  My cousin came running into my room the other day saying one of the cats had hurt himself, he'd lost a nail, but what he'd found was a shed tip.  I'd had no idea cats nails do this until I got Sabbath.
godgirlcatlady October 23, 2014
I think this is a wonderful article and very true. I have three cats, and I used to have another one but he's dead now. My oldest current cat, a large orange-and-white long-haired male has no front claws. We didn't plan it that way, but we got him from a humane society shelter before they stopped declawing cat's front claws. Sometimes he poops outside the litterbox, like right in front of it, and he also doesn't seem to realize he has no front claws because he 'uses' the scratching post and sometimes the backs of the chairs when we used to have the ones with wiring on the back. He's an indoor cat, luckily, so are our two cats who have all their claws. He never went to the bathroom on the floor before we got our newest edition, a three-month old kitten, and we have two litterboxes. But he still poops on the floor but never pees on the floor. The litterboxes need to be SUPER clean for him to use them. Why is that?
jo singer July 27, 2014
This is a wonderful article and thanks for writing it.   I cannot understand why veterinarians continue this unnecessary and barbaric practice, except for the monetary rewards they receive from this surgery. The research that Dr. Kirsten Doub, the director of Paw Project, UTAH  is doing is remarkable.   I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Doub several months ago ,and the information she is gathering is absolutely shocking.  http://pictures-of-cats.org/my-interview-with-dr-kirsten-doub-director-of-paw-project-utah.html    The only way to have declawing stopped in the USA and Canada is to keep educating people about how unnecessary and inhumane it is to have this surgery performed.. So many people think it is just a "super" manicure and have no idea about the risks involved, and the horrendous pain that cats must endure.  
meaganandalbert June 26, 2013
It's like taking off your child's hands because sometimes they break things. Ridiculously inhumane and should not be happening in this day and age.
beautikatz December 29, 2012
Couldn't agree more! There is no excuse for such cruelty!

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