Declawing Cats

Learn the facts about the declawing procedure before choosing surgery for your cat.

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Cat owners commonly want to know whether declawing cats is a "humane procedure." Cats need to scratch, and this can upset cat owners whose furniture and walls can become clawing targets.

The cat declawing surgery is invasive and traumatic. Technically called onychectomy, the procedure involves amputating the end bones of cats' toes, rather than simply removing cats' claws.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that declawing cats be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from destructive clawing or when clawing presents the risk of an injury or disease.

Cats hide illness and pain, as part of their instinct to appear less vulnerable to predators, so they can experience more pain than they exhibit after being declawed. Owners also report that after declawing, cats often become excessively fearful and shy. Inappropriate elimination (missing the litterbox), too, has been linked to declawing.

Talk to your vet about strategies against scratching before ordering a declawing operation. Alternatives to declawing cats include redirecting scratching to appropriate places, blocking targeted furniture from cats, covering inappropriate scratching surfaces in StickyPaws or double-sided tape, trimming cats' claws or placing nail caps on cats.
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Reader Comments

Teresa    International

2/25/2014 2:42:14 PM

I feel it is much too traumatic for an adult cat to be declawed. Cats are neutered and spayed, need teeth removed because of oral disease, and are bred to have specific unnatural traits which cause health issues. If you live with a cat, they will at some time damage your home and/or furnishings, either by urine marking or scratching. My first cat came to me as a stray kitten about 10-12 weeks old. I chose to have him declawed. I could see his feet hurt him for a couple of weeks, but he recovered very well.

My present cat came to me as an adult stray, and I did not have him declawed, even though he will be an "indoor" cat from now on. I also adopted a kitten through an agency, and chose not to have him declawed, as his housemate was not declawed.

when I had to live temporarily with my mom, the cats did some damage to woodwork and furniture. They have also damaged woodwork and furniture in my home, even though I provided things for them to scratch. I am not happy about having my home damaged, but for now, I will live with it.

I love them and it's a small price to pay for their wonderful companionship.

Janet    Bethlehem, PA

10/10/2013 3:09:28 AM


mickinokc    Bethany, OK

8/21/2013 8:19:49 PM

I have never declawed my cats but now find I will have to have it done to my newest addition to the family. But it is not about furniture, it is about the pure hatred he has for one of my other kitties. So do I risk serious eye injury to my sweet Punky or do I take Rambo back to the Humane Society where he may or may not be adopted (new family might declaw anyway)?

Lisa    Ludlow, MA

7/25/2013 10:29:22 AM

I have never had to declaw any of my cats. You need to train your cat where it is appropriate to scratch and where it isn't when he is a kitten. Get your cat a good quality scratching post, and show him how to use it. If you see him scratching your furniture, don't yell at him. Bring him to the scratching post, and gently rub his paws against it 2 or 3 times. He will get the idea. It also helps to trim his nails every couple of months.

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