Declawing Cats

Before making the decision to declaw your cat, please read the information below and speak with your veterinarian about the effects that declawing can have on your cat.

Scratching is a natural innate behavior of cats. It serves to condition the claws and to mark territory with scent from the paws. Cats need their claws to climb, chase, hunt and defend themselves. Providing scratching posts and keeping a cats claws trimmed can easily prevent damage to furniture.

Declawing is a painful operation. It involves the surgical removal of the entire last digit of each toe or amputation comparable to the removal of human fingertips to the first knuckle. Sensory and motor nerves are cut, damaged and destroyed. Although the paws appear to heal well, recovery is a slow and painful process with a wooden lack of feeling, then a tingling sensation. Cats often avoid using the litter box after surgery due to the pain.

Cats are digitgrade (they walk on their toes) and declawing can hamper the sensations and enjoyment that a cat experiences when walking, running, springing, climbing and stretching. Numerous studies have confirmed that cats can suffer physological damage when their natural defense system is removed. Stress in cats can cause health and behavioral problems and many declawed cats are surrendered to animal protection agencies due to these problems.

Declawed cats often exhibit one or more of the following problems:

  • Avoidance of the litterbox
  • Unprovoked biting
  • Impaired balance and agility
  • Extreme timidity, especially when strangers or other animals are present
  • Lack of playful activity which can lead to obesity in later life.

Once cats have been declawed, they must be kept indoors for the rest of their lives. A declawed cat that is let outside is a target for any dog, cat or other creature. They cannot defend themselves or even climb a tree to escape danger.

Cats are wonderful creatures and are a great pleasure to have around the house. Cats provide hours of entertainment and are a source of relaxation when you need some quiet time to unwind.

Cats can easily be trained not to scratch the furniture and other items in your home. Provide at least one, or better yet, several scratching posts for your kitten as soon as possible. Try to get the posts covered with a material of a different texture than your upholstery, so the kitten doesn’t get confused about which object is OK to scratch and which isn’t. (A wooden post wound tightly with heavy sisal rope [they do not like nylon or plastic] makes a good scratching post.) Encourage and praise the kitten when it uses the post; squirt it with a spray bottle of water and shame it when it uses something else; begin clipping your kittens nails as soon as you get him/her home (your veterinarian can show you how). They will get used to having this done and it will be an easy task even when your kitten has grown into an adult.

For more information on declawing, see these sites: