Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: November 24, 2022 by Crystal Uys


Declawing is a topic that can elicit strong emotions, with most people coming down on the side of opposing it. Declawing is considered either illegal or inhumane in 25 countries around the world, including England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Finland and Brazil. The United States lacks sadly behind in establishing legislation to make declawing illegal, but thankfully, more and more cat lovers, cat welfare organizations and veterinarians are speaking out against declawing, calling it inhumane and unnecessary.

Declawing is extremely painful

Declawing is not just nail trimming. The declaw surgery involves amputating the last bone of the cat’s toes. If performed on a human, this would be the equivalent of having the last knuckle of each finger removed. Recovery from this surgery is extremely rough on cats, even with the use of powerful pain medications. Phantom pain may last for months following the surgery, if not for the rest of the cat’s life. Declaw surgery is mutilation, plain and simple.

Declawing leads to health problems

After being declawed, a cat’s gait changes, which may lead to joint problems, including arthritis in the elbows, shoulders and hips.

Declawing leads to behavioral problems

Declawed cats may avoid the litter box because digging in the box will be painful for sensitive paws. Cats may use carpeting or smooth floor surfaces to eliminate instead.

Declawing may change a cat’s personality. “My cat was never the same” is a common complaint heard after declaw surgery. A formerly happy, content cat may become fearful and withdrawn as a result of dealing with the pain following the surgery.

Scratching is a way for cats to stretch by digging their claws into a scratching post or carpet. This is an important way for them to keep their muscles and joints healthy. Once cats are declawed, they lose this natural ability to stretch.

What about laser declawing?

Laser declawing uses a small, intense beam of light to cut through tissue by heating and vaporizing it. This surgery causes less bleeding and swelling than traditional surgery, but it’s still an amputation, and the long term effects of the surgery remain the same.

Declawing is an unnecessary and inhumane procedure that provides no medical benefit to a cat.

The Paw Project

For more information on declawing, please visit The Paw Project. The Paw Project’s mission is to educate the public about the painful and crippling effects of feline declawing, to promote animal welfare through the abolition of the practice of declaw surgery, and to rehabilitate cats that have been declawed.

Featured image by Marcin Wichary, Flickr Creative Commons

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80 Comments on Declawing Cats: Inhumane and Unneccesary

  1. I am trying to be good but it is so hard!!! What i want to say to these people that think it is ok to declaw, God would never forgive me for! I can not believe that they don’t even listen to the experts, who definitely know what they are talking about. I am so sorry Ingrid that they think they no more than you, and the vets, etc. Anyone who has cats should know that they don’t always show sickness or pain, etc. You can’t really say that your kitties have no ill effects from being declawed, because you truely don’t know how they are feeling. I have a kitty that i rescued about 3 months ago. He came to me declawed. He is only a year and 4 months. So far i haved watched him sometimes try to jump on something or try to climb the kitty tower only to lose his footing and fall because he didn’t have his claws to help catch himself. It is sad to watch. I watch my kitties all the time and am in tune to little behavior changes or when they may not feel quite right. If you aren’t that in tune to them then you can’t really say whether them being declawed has really affected them. They hide things quite well. I only know how i would feel to have my fingers taken off down to my first knuckle. It is common sense that if a part of what is normal is removed, it is going to have some effect. The same goes for animals.

    • You make an excellent point, Viki. Cats are masters at hiding pain. Pain control for cats in veterinary medicine has not really been addressed until the last 5-10 years. Even when I first started working in veterinary clinics 12 years ago, many procedures, including spays and neuters, were performed without addressing the need for pain control. A good rule of thumb is that if it hurts humans, it will hurt cats. (And thank you for showing restraint in how you worded your comment, Viki.)

  2. I had this done to my kitties before I knew how bad it was. Still feel bad about it. I would never ever do this to a cat now. I made sure we have lots of scratch toys and purchased a cat tower! I have never heard it explained like that before. OMG it sounds so painful. Thank you for this post. <3

  3. Thank you all for your contributions to this important topic.

    I attended the Bethesda, MD screening of The Paw Project movie last night, and I urge all of you to try to find a screening in your area. Even if you’re already convinced that declawing is inhumane, you will find this movie inspirational. It is incredibly difficult to watch at times, but you walk away from it feeling that there is hope that, if all of us continue to educate cat guardians, and support organizations like The Paw Project, we can follow the 25 countries around the world where this procedure is already banned, and get it banned not just in 8 cities in California, but everywhere in the US.

    For those of you who are considering having your cats declawed, I urge you to visit The Paw Project website and really educate yourself about what this procedure involves.

    For all of you, please remember that education is the key to effect change. I realize that this is a controversial topic, and while I come down firmly on the side of considering this procedure inhumane, we’re not going to help cats if we use language that attacks, demeans or belittles others.

  4. I have two cats that are declawed (not by my choice – but I will say they are happy and healthy; no behavior issues, etc.) and just rescued a new cat that does have her claws. I don’t want to declaw her, but my parents are afraid she’ll be able to hurt the other cats if they were to get into a fight (they’ve yet to be introduced). I’m not too worried about this, as I’m using Jackson Galaxy’s tips for introducing new pets and my new cat is super sweet. So I’m thinking of having the vet glue on acrylic nails (just to satisfy my parents’ fears about their furniture etc, as I’m currently living w/them). Has anyone else tried this? Do the acrylic nails keep the cat from being able to shed her old nails when she scratches, etc.? How long to they stay on? Thanks so much!

    • Ingrid already answered your question about the nail caps-which are a great way to protect furniture and keep your kitty’s claws. But just so you know, I have 2 cats with their claws and one declawed cat I rescued from a shelter a little over a year ago, and my clawed kitties seem to understand that Izzy is defenseless and they don’t bother her. If they even walk near her, Izzy is the one who tends to swat and hiss at them, so in my experience at least, it’s usually the declawed cat that acts aggressive toward the other cats with claws. So your declawed kitties should be fine. 🙂

  5. I desagree completely about cutting parts of animals, I mean.. hears, tail, claws… let them live as they born! :@

  6. I am ashamed to admit that I, too, have declawed my cats. I made the decision after talking to a vet who said it was not harmful to the cat and it was best for an indoor cat (who was using my 5 year old son as her scratching post). I am now a strong advocate of outlawing declawing. Would never have done it if I knew what it entailed. Was told that the vet would just “remove the nail and nothing else.” I was so naive that I fell for it.

  7. My cat was wrecking the walls in the apartment with his claws. After trying the nail caps and scratching posts and other things to no avail I had to take my cat to the city animal shelter. After 7 days the shelter called me that they were at capacity and that they were going to have to put the cat I brought in to sleep to make more room. I went and bailed the cat out and had him declawed. He thinks he still has claws. He is 16 years old now and has never had any problems from the declaw. I hear there is a new procedure called a tendonectomy that does not require amputation. I don’t know if most vets are trained and/or doing it yet but I think it would be a better option that amputating or euthanasia.

    • Actually, a cat is still able to scratch after a tendenectomy, and it’s a painful procedure in and of itself. It involves severing the tendons in the toes. The cat still has its claws, but is unable to control them. This procedure is associated with a high incidence of abnormal claw growth and muscle atrophy.

  8. I have 6 cats, all my cats stay indoors and never go out. I have had all my cats declawed and have had no adverse effects of bad behavior or mood change. Some may not agree and some may. It should be left up to the owner to do whats best for their cat. I can see where people are coming from and I’m sure it’s a painful surgery, what surgery isn’t. I do think if you do declaw you should never place outside as they have no defense. Placing outside after declaw is criminal and shouldn’t happen. I’m sure I will get a lot of comments on this but it was my decision and no one else’s .

  9. I have friends that have their cats declawed, thinking only of their leather furniture and personal items. I realized that they weren’t providing places for their cats to do what came natural to them, and a few are now replacing carpet because their Siamese refuses to use the litter box. I suggested Soft Claws to everyone, and use them on my own cats. There is no need to mutilate your pet in fear of getting scratched or having things destroyed. One wouldn’t remove the finger tips of their child because they don’t want their child scratch themselves. Maybe it is a bit over the top, my way of thinking, but my cats are family. Even my dogs have nail caps.

  10. I think you should lead with the AFTER effects more. Behavior problems are not mentioned ENOUGH! I think anyone who has done this before knows it’s Obviously a painfull recovery. I can’t get through to three of my friends about this because they think their cats are just fine AFTER they “recover” the fact that cats are Stoic and hide their pain leads people to belive the veterinarians assertions that “they don’t really NEED their front claws”! My mother-in-law has declawed all three of her cats, AND lets them outdoors! Along with two of my friends, the prevalant culture in my area seems to be de-claw and “free to good home” adds mention de-claw like it’s a redeeming quality, when it’s probably the Cause of the owners wanting to get rid of the animal! All of the pro de-claw people in my circle of friends won’t even listen or watch the trailer.
    I have 5 cats who have all of their claws and am Not looking forward to integrating three de-clawed cats into my indoor only pride when my mother-in-law passes.

  11. I will NEVER again declaw one of my cats!! I did so over 14 years ago. Back then you really didn’t have the internet to look things up on and had to go by what your vet said. My poor kitty wound up with a bad infection that almost fried his brain after his declawing . I still have him today, but he has never been the same. He’s very touch sensitive and hisses all the time. He also pees all over the house. He can be loving at times but is a very difficult cat to live with. I feel as if he is a mentally challenged kitty. Never again!!!

  12. My first cat tiger never had to be declawed he scratched what he was supposed climbed where her was supposed to and didn’t scratch people basically a perfectly well behaved cat. Our second cat pebbles had some behavioral issues and had to be front declawed because no matter what methods of training were used she was constantly attacking family and friends in a highly violent and aggressive way. We could of been in huge legal trouble when she attacked a man who came to look at our wiring one day we had to pry her off and when we let her go upstairs and went to close the door she went in for round two did a lot of damage. It became necessary to keep her from being put to sleep. Rose is front declawed but not after trying to retrain to scratch where she is supposed to and toys and scratching and climbing posts. And my family sadly front and back declawed frosty because after removing his front claws when he healed he discovers that he was still able to claw things with his back claws and continued to destroy things and scratch. My family doesn’t like to declaw but if it’s needed to keep our animals in the home or from being put down we will. They are strick indoor cats they don’t get to go outside as we live in the country. Before everyone starts telling us off for declawing, we did try behavior sprays, clicking devices, buying every toy scratching/climbing toy we could try and for pebbles trying to keep her away from visitors. But as we came to the choice of having to declaw or give them to the pound where in our area most are put to sleep we decided to declaw. As horrible as all of the declawing process sounds after the procedure none of my cats have changed, rose still loves to jump and now she can paw whatever furniture she wants which she loves to do and when she needs my face in the morning I don’t get my eyelid torn open. Frosty is just ask hyper and crazy and still finds ways to get to crazy heights without claws and now he doesn’t destroy everything in the process. And pebbles who has passed away recently due to a bad liver was able to start going about the house freely because even if she grabbed you and clawed she wasn’t hurting anyone. If we don’t have to we won’t but the option needs made especially now a days where people are refusing to spay and neuter their pets and so many cats end up being put down. Example one pound thirty minutes from my home had almost 200 cats at one point and almost none have been adopted most put down because there are just to many cats and not enough homes. I’d rather have to declaw my cat then have them put down.

  13. While I never personally declawed a cat, we did take in a stray we found near our apartment building when I was a teen. She was only declawed in the front. We had to take her in because being declawed she really had no defenses or any real way to catch anything to eat. No one ever claimed her despite our efforts to find her owner so we kept her. The declawing must have bothered her all her life because she would hold one paw up when sitting and never let you touch them. She was fearful of our other clawed cats and used her back feet to fight or play. She had a very defensive personality. Despite all this we kept her and she lived a long happy life. But after seeing her obvious discomfort, I decided to never declaw a cat.

  14. When I was younger and living with my parents, they required that I de-claw my cats. Skunk was never the same. She became very lazy and didn’t want her paws touched. Lilly almost didn’t wake up from the anesthesia. I never really understood de-clawing until I was older and worked at a few vet clinics. I was horrified to find claws(with the first joint attached) in the clothes dryer at work. I’ve rescued many cats since then, and have not de-clawed any. I know I can never make it up to my cats, I essentially amputated part of their “hand” for no good reason. I tend to spoil them now. My cats have their own room with cat toilets, climbing shelves, hammock play gyms, the best cat food, healthy treats, a catio, and their own cat maid. It will never make up for the de-clawing though.

  15. Ok, I have read everyone’s posts about the “evils” of de-clawing, and while I agree with alot of what was said, I had to make a decision based on the two children I care for, both of which are 4 years old. I did a partial de-claw (meaning the front paws were declawed, and the rear paws weren’t) in the interest of safety of the two children that I care for. You may call me inhumane and cruel, but again, I had to consider the safety of the two children I care for. I will not give up Smokey, but I will make it safer to be around him, as he has already scratched the little boy a couple of times before he was declawed. I left the rear claws as a defense if he ever did get outside (he is an indoor kitty, but there have been a couple of times he’s made it outside) So call me inhumane and cruel, but don’t forget I am conscientious of the two children I watch.

    • I am curious how safety for children comes into play. I have four cats and a child. I had cats before the child. I have raised my child to respect and properly care for the cats. I also keep my cats claws trimmed so they aren’t sharp. My child has gotten a couple scratches from the cats but it was never from the cat attacking. The scratches were the result of the child pushing her limits with the cat.

      My child has had three incidents of scratches in seven years. The worst scratch was from the one cat that is de-clawed. This cat was de-clawed before I had adopted her. So de-clawing the cat did not keep my child “safe.” In all honesty, my child picked up the cat when she did not want to be picked up. I suppose many people would call me cruel, but while I do not want to see my child get scratched, she did deserve the scratch. She knew better and it was just another learning experience.

      All I am saying is that de-clawing isn’t the only answer in keeping children safe. teaching proper respect of animals is a big part of animal/child safety.

    • I grew up with cats and although I suffered a few scratches as a child I was never seriously harmed. My parents also taught me how to correctly play with cats to avoid injury. The only time I’ve ever been seriously injured by a cat was back in July of this year by Izzy, the declawed cat I rescued. Some declawed cats tend to bite since they have no claws and any doctor will tell you a cat bite is WAY worse than a cat scratch. I still have the puncture wound scars on my arm and I got to take a lovely round of antibiotics to avoid infection. So I hope your cats recover better from their declaw than my rescued kitty did, or now you’ll have to deal with cat bites instead of cat scratches.

    • Ok Dee, but like my vet told me, if you are getting them declawed so they can’t scratch and hurt you, remember they still have teeth! Also, they can scratch with their back claws just as well. I just adopted a kitty that is declawed in the front and he scratches with his back claws. There are ways to prevent your cats from scratching the kids if you take the effort, without having their claws and bone ripped out of their body. I had my cats around my babies and I trained them not to scratch my babies.

  16. We recently acquired a poly kitty that had been declawed by her previous owners and then left outside to fend for herself when they moved away. Why anyone would do that is beyond me. She is one of the sweetest cats I’ve had in my life, but I feel sorry for her because sometimes she seems like she is in pain (not sure if it’s from being declawed or being poly) In response to Lazyfrau, I think the reason it is so common here in the US, is because people have not been educated about the brutality of the procedure.

  17. A portion of this comment has been removed by the site owner. I welcome discussion and opposing view points on this site if they are presented in a respectful manner. Comments that include offensive language or attack another person commenting on this forum will be deleted.

    Also pleeeaaasssee, stop letting them outdoors! Cats are a horrible nuisance to the local environment, and those lack of claws may be fine against other toms (which actually only rarely comes to blows) but you’ve given them a death warrant against foxes and coons!

    • This comment has been removed by the site owner.

      I welcome discussion and opposing view points on this site if they are presented in a respectful manner. Comments that include offensive language or attack another person commenting on this forum will be deleted.

      • mags – Please read my post again… I did not say or even imply that there was nothing wrong with this procedure.

        We have “rescued” two de-clawed cats. MY concern is that folks going to animal shelters or an animal rescue do not pass on these cats and let them die. They deserve to live as much as any other animal. PLEASE folks do not hold what has been done to them against the cat! There is something WRONG with doing this to a cat but there is nothing WRONG with the cat. So don’t walk past their cage simply because they were de-clawed! They are not “defective” and will love you as much as any other cat.

        Also.. Cats can be harmed mentally as well as physically. Cats like any other animal LOVE to be outdoors. It is their “natural” environment and like it or not there is a natural order to the environment whether you find it a nuisance or not.
        My cats will NEVER be forced to live their lives locked up in a cage of ANY size! Including the size of a house.

        So pleeeeeaaassseeee read more carefully before attacking and being so critical of others.
        Thank You.

  18. As a veterinary technician for the past 20 years, I have seen this procedure done by many different veterinarians and I have to say I am completely AGAINST it. The vets that do it don’t see the harm, even tho the cats can’t walk after the surgery, even with ring blocks, bandages and pain meds. I find it to be a horrifying surgery and recovery. The problem is that they have been doing it for so long that it just becomes a part of the “order”, Spay and a declaw, Cheeseburger and fries. I feel it needs to start in the Veterinary Schools, they learn it there and that it is ok. My friends who argue this debate with me say, “all my cats have been declawed, front and or back (insert extremely sad face here), and they live perfectly happy lives”. My concern for that is that they don’t have any cats to compare it too. I have 11 cats, only 1 has been front paw declawed and I can definitely see a difference in how she moves in comparison to my fully clawed feline friends. Trying to get people to change their mind after years and years of doing this is the hardest part. What I can’t seem to get thru to some people is that cats HIDE their pain/illness to prevent being prey to another animal. We know cats are predators, but they are also prey. Usually not showing signs of pain or illness until they are EXTREMELY ill or wounded. If you know what to look for, walking crouched, not moving around much, ears back, “sad” eyes, then maybe people would take notice. Also many “untruths” about cats are out there, “They are lazy and solitary”. Nothing could be further from the truth. My cats are active, friendly, hang out with me and my dogs, and sometimes so mischievous they need a time out in my bedroom (with toys, food, water and litterbox). I also need to note, If people would consider using scratching posts (there are many now that are decorative and can accent your furniture), keeping their pets weight down (cats should be long and slender, not ROUND), and playing with them to let out that strong predatory activity, they would SEE how fun and well-rounded cats are. I love all mine dearly, feed them canned food with a small amount of high quality (Fromms or Earthborn) and LOTS of water. They are silly, animated, scratch on their many choices of posts, cuddly and my small furry children. Thank you to Jackson Galaxy for all he does to help our feline friends. I would love to meet you someday and talk CATS! I own a cat behavior business as well and love seeing people and their kitties find common ground and bond again. <3
    Sally L. Gether, Certified Veterinary Technician

    • All of the love for a vet tech who not only understands the horror of declawing but also the importance of real quality nutrition and wet food for cats!!!

    • Great post 🙂 I wish you lived near ME! I want to meet, hang out and talk cats with YOU now! I s’pose Jackson could come too if he wanted … lol …

  19. My cat is a polydactyl, and although I had decided not to have her declawed, the two extra toes had non-retractible claws that got stuck on everything. She was always getting hurt, so for her safety, I asked the vet to remove only those claws. I was shocked when the vet tried to talk me into having all her claws removed. He really pushed for it! (Even told me it would cost the same whether he removed those 2 claws versus all of them!!) I stuck to my resolve and amazingly, the vet didn’t even charge me for the 2-claw declawing. I’m hoping it’s because it wasn’t like a true declawing – that the structure of those toes was more like a “growth” than the bony part of an actual toe. She seems fine. That was a tough decision to make after all my research on whether or not to declaw my kitty. I’m really saddened that the US still allows (and even seems to encourage) it.

  20. I have two cats with very sharp claws and they rarely scratch the furniture. We provide them with several scratching posts and they are good to use those. My younger sister was given terrible advice years ago when she got a cat that was going to stay indoors. Her vet not only took the front, but also the back claws. Poor kitty was never the same. From a sweet loving kitty to a scared pitiful cat for the rest of her life. My sis regrets it and would never to it again. BUT her husband has Hepatitis C, so he has to be careful about blood issues. When she went to adopt another cat, she chose one who had been declawed already, not only giving that cat a good home, but insuring the safety her husband needed. Thank you for getting out the word….I’ll be sharing it.

  21. Very, very important! When we first got our (first) cat, we were considering it (for selfish reasons like scratching, clawing furniture/us, etc.) and people saying it was the thing to do, but QUICKLY changed our minds after reading all of the negative things to declawing! Imagine what would happen if humans were declawed and what we would not be able to do! After 1+ years old now, our kitty is NOT declawed and is a happy kitty.

  22. I had my Maine Coon declawed nearly 20 years ago. I didn’t know better then. She was my baby. When I found out about this a couple of years later, I cried. I couldn’t believe the torture I put my baby through. She recently passed due to cancer. I do have another now who still has his claws.

  23. 17 years ago, I de-clawed a couple of my cats. This was before I knew the horror of what the surgery really entailed. Now that I know, I would NEVER do this to a cat.

    I currently have four sweet shelter rescued kittys. One is de-clawed. I rescued her in Reno, NV from a shelter. Her previous owners had done this to her. I truly believe they dumped her at the shelter because the de-clawing changed her. She likes to pee on towels, so after learning that, I provide a litter box with a towel for her. So I do laundry often with bleach. At least I know she will forever be loved.

    My girl is 9 years old and I have had her for 8 years now. She is has the biggest attitude but the most wonderful love for me. She says bless you when I sneeze, comes to me when I cry,and takes my side in every argument.

    The instinct to scratch never goes away. She still scratches, but even without claws, she always scratches in the proper places. Poor girl never needed to go through that awful pain.

    I always keep an eye out to rescue de-clawed kitties. They need extra love and protection. I would love to chop the fingers off of the people who have done this and then gotten rid of the cat. They take away the cats defenses and permanently disfigure them. Those people should suffer the same fate.

    Thank you for passing along the information about the destruction de-clawing causes. The word needs to get out!

    • I recently adopted a declawed 15-year old kitty, Easton. She always pees in the box, but every few days she will poo outside the box. Sometimes it seems like she starts in the box, but then finishes on a rug or even my bedspread, obviously she prefers a softer surface. I’ve been told this could be because the litter starts to hurt her paws when she has to be in the box for longer than it takes to pee. I don’t know how old she was when she was declawed, nor have her previous owners provided any history. They claim she always went in the box, but I have my doubts about that. My guess is that this is why I am her third home. The vet says she has no parasites or arthritis. I feel so bad for her. I’ve been trying different litter, trying to find something soft enough for her to tolerate. But maybe I will try a second box with a towel in it like you did. My feeling is that she would still pee in the litter, but would poo on the towel. Like you, I don’t mind cleaning towels, much better than my futon cover or bedspread!

      • Thank you for adopting Easton! Declawed kitties seem to need a little extra love and they certainly deserve a happy home and it looks like you’re giving that to her. 🙂

      • Two of my three cats will use a box with a puppy pad. It’s not very environmentally friendly, but certainly easier than washing towels. You just have to be sure the box is weighted so it doesn’t tip over if your cat is a “percher”, as mine are. There are also soft litters. Nature’s Miracle is one and Walmart carries the same thing packed under a different brand. It’s finely groun corn cobs and is very soft and light. I use this for my declawed cat.

        I have a four paw declawed cat who was found in a field by a mail carrier. She is a Devon Rex and was two pounds under her ideal weight of 7 pounds. She was near death and could barely move. She was unable to catch anything, even though she was in an area which had plenty of mice and insects she could have eaten. Luckily, she recovered from that ordeal. Her owner was never located. She has never run or even trotted. She walks very tentatively. She does like to climb, but needs stair step boxes or other multi-level steps to get up high. When she shakes herself she looses her balance.

        There is nothing anyone could ever say to convince me that it is okay for humans to make the decision to maim a cat by declawing it. If one can’t put up with scratching furniture or the possibility of getting scratched oneself, then perhaps a different animal should be considered, rather than changing the nature of a cat in such a significant way. There is a reason that many European countried have outlawed this horrific practice. Yes, declawed cats make wonderful pets and I applaud anyone who will rescue an unwanted cat who has already been declawed. I have had no issues with having two cats with claws and one declawed. Having such a mix living in harmony of course depends on the personalities of the cats.

  24. I read that and it’s very informative but it doesn’t mean there is anything “WRONG” with declawed cats. Both of the adopted cats that we have were declawed on their front paws when we got them and they are VERY NORMAL cats! They both USE the litter box, they have ZERO health problems, they are very HAPPY and LOVING, they still STRETCH and scratch at posts as if they still had their front claws, they have NO ARTHRITIS or joint problems and our female is almost 20 years old. Our male is almost 12 and still one of the best hunters I’ve ever seen! He brings us all sorts of moles,birds, mice, and critters..except the rabbits he likes and eats them all up. He is very long and large with extremely strong front legs and even climbs trees! We live in a semi-rural area so they go in and out as they please and have always been able to defend themselves very well with their rear claws. The male even looks for fights with other toms! So please, PLEASE, do not pass on these cats when looking to adopt! They are wonderful and loving pets!

    • Great point … I think that people may be scared off by a lot of these posts. Yes, declawing is awful, but it doesn’t mean the cat is going to be a bad pet! I have 4 declawed cats, and they are all wonderful, “scratch” on everything etc. I would never have it done again knowing what I know now, but PLEASE don’t let the fact that a cat is declawed stop you from adopting it!

    • Frank,

      I don’t think they’re saying you should not adopt declawed cats, they’re saying don’t do it to your cat. There are plenty of declawed cats in shelters, if someone wants a declawed cat they should adopt one of those, not inflict pain on a perfectly healthy cat. I also have a declawed cat. Her original owners did the declaw on her and when she developed behavioral problems (she’s aggressive, she bites, she hisses ALL the time and she frequently falls off of things which freaks her out) they dumped her back in a shelter! How cruel is that?! I felt so bad for her I adopted her because I felt humanity owed her a happy home. She still has issues but she finally trusts me and my husband, but I still would give anything to go back in time and adopt her before her first owners did. She might be a completely different cat today. It’s great your cats are doing so well despite being declawed, but it just means they’re lucky and resilient. Some cats, like mine, are forever changed by it and never really recover. And you never know how the cat will react until after the surgery and by then, it’s too late to change your mind.

      • Thank you Laura! 😎

        Yes Carly I know they were not saying not to adopt. I just didn’t want folks to hold it against shelter cats that are already declawed. Thanks for sharing your experience with me! 😎

    • Yes – thank you for posting this! We have adopted 3 cats over the years that happened to be declawed. They have all been sweet, gently, loving, funny, playful, wonderful cats! As you mentioned, Frank, they’ve all used the litterbox with no problem at all, and have had absolutely no behavior issues. My concern is the same as yours – when people make such a strong push to focus on the potential bad that can come from declawing a cat, I worry that declawed cats in shelters will have less of a chance of finding a home. If someone reads “Declawing a cat can change it’s behavior, make it depressed or even more aggressive,” or “Declawing a cat can lead to litterbox avoidance” when they go to a shelter to adopt a cat I worry that they will automatically pass by the declawed kitties because they assume they will have problems. The truth is all cats, like people, are different. They all have different quirks and personality traits, whether they are declawed or not. And the reality is that ANY cat can have behavior issues for a variety of different reasons – claws or no claws.

      Declawing is not a practice I could ever condone – we also had a cat with all her claws who was fantastic. I would never put a cat through a procedure like that – it is indeed cruel. But please know that just because a cat is declawed does not automatically mean it will have problems. That’s just not the case.

    • I totally agree with Frank. Over my adult years I have had 5 indoor cats, all of them front declawed, the first 3 because my landlord would not let me have cats otherwise. All 5–and this is very important– were declawed as young kittens. In fact, most veterinarians around here will not declaw a kitten older than 12 weeks. It is an entirely different story to declaw an adult cat, who for many obvious reasons would have a tough time with it.

      I have a problem with people on these posts being judgmental of others, and questioning their devotion to their pets. I adore my boys and would go to the ends of the earth for them. Everyone who knows me is well aware of this. We currently have 2 boys, litter mates whom we adopted at 6 weeks of age. They are now 3 years old, and like the others before them, have never had any of the horrible effects so dramatically described by Ingrid. There are no health issues, no gait changes, no joint problems. Recovery was much better than she describes, and certainly not “extremely rough”. There have been no behavior issues of ANY kind, and like Frank said, they go through the motions of stretching and scratching, multiple times per day, just as if they had claws. They are healthy, happy, very loving and very much loved in return.
      Again, I think how this procedure affects cats, both in terms of recovery and any adverse effects, has everything to do with the cat’s age at the time it is done. One cat that I knew years ago, not mine, was declawed as an adult and did develop behavior issues/personality changes as a result. He had been an outdoor cat, and definitely suffered a loss, and he knew it. The truth is, young kittens adapt very well, and quickly, with no long term ill effects.

      • I have to completely disagree with your statement that young kittens always adapt well, and quickly, Margaret. Kittens feel pain just as much as adult cats. And quite frankly, most cat guardians don’t see the immediate after effects of the surgery, since most cats spend the first night or two following the procedure in the hospital. Additionally, many of the changes caused by this amputation, such as gait changes and joint problems, may not be evident until later in life. Phantom pain is well documented in human medicine (the pain amputees feel in the limb that no longer exists), and it’s not much of a leap to excpect that the same thing may be present in cats. That being said, I do not question your devotion to your pets, and I hope your cats continue to do well. My goal is to educate cat guardians about this procedure, not judge them.

        • Ingrid,
          To your assertion that problems may not be evident until later in life, this may or may not be true, but happily was not true for the first 3 cats I mentioned. One died of fatty liver disease at 12, another at 8 from issues related to an enlarged heart, and the other is still going strong at 12 years of age and lives with my daughter.
          Of course kittens feel pain. My contention that the age of the animal matters a lot is shared by veterinarians, which is why, as I mentioned, the ones I worked with will not do it after 12 weeks. Kittens DO adapt very well, and quickly, without their claws (I did not say “always”). They are babies….in no time at all they go back to playing, roughhousing and just being kittens. It is another story altogether to declaw an adult cat, as I stated, and I am very much opposed to that.
          In your reply, you make it clear that your claim about phantom pain is speculation, but in the article above you lead the reader to believe it is fact. As a healthcare professional (nurse) I think it’s irresponsible to make such a “leap”. Please don’t mislead people out of your obvious passion and concern for cats. I share the concerns of other posters–that people may shy away from adopting a declawed cat after reading all these “horror stories”, and think that declawed cats are “damaged goods”. If, God forbid, something unexpected should happen to me and my husband, and our boys ended up in a shelter, people prejudiced against declawed cats because of misinformation would miss out on adopting two of the happiest, most joyous boys in the world. Boys who run and jump and play-fight and, yes, take great joy in “scratching” when they are stressed or just plain happy to see us come home, just like cats with claws.

          • I never suggested that declawed cats are damaged goods, Marianne. My goal is to educate cat guardians to not put cats through this painful procedure. If someone’s lifestyle is better suited to living with a declawed cat, then I would encourage them to adopt one that has already been declawed. Sadly, there are plenty of them at shelters around the country – and many of them end up there because of behavioral problems caused by the procedure.

          • You did not give me the option to reply to your last post Ingrid, but I am anyway. If declawed cats are in shelters because of behavior issues caused, as you say, by the procedure, I submit it is because they were declawed after they were adults. You refuse to acknowledge what any vet will tell you: Cats declawed as young kittens do not suffer from all the drama you describe.

  25. I have 2 de-clawed cats, one I had done (she’s 14 and I had it done when she was a baby…if I knew then what I know now I would’ve NEVER done it) the other came with out her claws. My 14 year old, I can’t say she changed but I do think she’s a little more aggressive because of it. She bites more than my other cats do. The only thing I can say is that I don’t believe she’s in any pain because she uses her paws to open things… I do come into my kitchen sometimes and it reminds me of that movie “I see dead things” where all the cupboards open! She’s also good about using the box and still ‘scratches’ on things. The other cat I think had it done older because when she jumps, unlike my other cat, she sometimes will slip. My 14 year old never slips. Again, I would NEVER have this done again. It is cruel and inhumane. I wish I could give the claws back to my cats, but I can’t. All I can do is tell people who are thinking of it to NOT do it and to look it up and see how harsh and cruel it is. I have 3 clawed cats who are good about using scratchers and never ever touch the furniture. Cats are smart and can be taught!! Great film and I do plan on seeing it.

  26. WHY ON EARTH WOULD ANYONE DO THAT!!! OMG!!! My kitties are full of claws and cause no harm, have there own little spots in the home, and are happy…THIS HAS MADE ME FEEL SICK!!!, I had never heard of it before until the posts put on by the Jackson Galaxy Cat Behaviorist . So awful! Im glad its illegal in the UK!!

  27. I really don’t understand the reason for declawing cats… Is this for having nice forniture? People who is interested more in forniture than cats, definitively shouldn’t have cats!!

  28. This is so cruel and unnecessary. Cats love those super scratchers made out of the corrugated cardboard and they are a cheap and easy solution to a cats’ clawing needs. Save the cat the mutilation and save your furniture for $10-15 bucks. Problem solved! De-clawing a cat is such an awful procedure!

  29. I adopted an 8 yr old beauty who had been declawed by a previous owner. It is a barbaric practice and one I would never put an animal through. My adopted fur baby has some behavior issues which I believe stems from being declawed. The fact that she was forced to suffer so much earlier in life makes me even more determined to give her a loving and understanding forever home.

  30. Great post! I am thankful that blogs such as this are speaking out against this horrible act. In our Kitten Basics class proper nail care and scratching posts are one of the major things we cover so that new kitten owners will know how to make and informed decision and choose claws!

  31. Clipping my cat’s claws takes all of 5 minutes once every 2 to 3 weeks. None of my cats have ever liked it, but if you start from kittens they tolerate it fairly well. A treat when finished makes it even easier.

  32. This utterly inhumane practice is unheard of here. Never been legal or advocated by vets. Why is it still so popular in USA?

  33. Thank you so much for posting this. I shared on my facebook blog page. This is an issue I am very passionate about and I wish that it would be illegal in the U.S. I love my furry children and would never ever take their natural defenses away just to save my furniture. I actually stopped going to a vet because they declawed the kittens they were trying to adopt out.

  34. Very good post! I have 3 cats who all have their claws and I wouldn’t have it any other way! 🙂 I’ve never had a vet actually suggest the procedure to me, but you can bet I wouldn’t go back to one that ever did!

  35. About 32 years ago we got a sweet black and white tuxie who we named Fridge, after the Chicago Bears Super Bowl Player. Our vet recommended we have him declawed at the same time he was neutered. We trusted the vet to help us make the right choices for our cat. We were promised that the surgery would ” make him a better pet in the long run”. And while I can’t swear the mutilation changed him I do know he was never an affectionate kitty. He had no claws so he used his teeth. He would bite anyone and everyone. Years later, when I learned the horror of what we had done I apologized to Fridge….and he bit me. I’ll always wonder if he would have been a happier cat if we had known better. I promised Fridge that I would do my best to not alter my 4 legged friends passed spay/neutering & training. Changing an animal much more than that can lead you places you’d rather not go.

    • That’s what vets recommended back then, Dorothy. I got my first cat in 1984, and the vet also recommended that he be declawed, and I didn’t know any better then. I still feel sick whenever I think about it. Thankfully, Feebee didn’t seem to have any ill effects from the surgery, at least none that were visible.

    • Sorry, but I couldn’t help but laugh when Fridge bit you when you tried to apologize….classic

  36. I think it is horrible to declaw a cat. I made the mistake years ago with one of my cats who was ripping up my couch. That was when I was clueless! I would never do it now! I have a cat that is aggressive and he also scratches my wood archways all up but I will not get him declawed. That is totally out of the question. I have the two sided sticky tape all over the place. If anyone wonders, it works wonderful!!! I think to do that to a cat is inhumane. That is considered abuse I think. What some people put there kitties and puppies through is just disgraceful. It makes me so sad that people don’t really think of their animals as their family, or kids, but more as a nuisance.

    • There are so many different options to deal with scratching, Viki, and like you said, the double-sided tape is one of them. I agree, it is abuse.

  37. Thanks for this post, Ingrid! We still need about 70 people for the screening in Bethesda to happen so spreading the word is very helpful! Hopefully those in the Washington, DC area can make it:

  38. Our mom never believed in it before she knew how painful it was and now she’s even more against it. We have plenty of scratching toys around the house.

  39. Oh this is such a good post. I sure hope everyone sees it. Other than spay and neuter, this is one of my favorite things to campaign about. It is so darn cruel to do to a cat. Sure wish we could get some laws passed to stop this stuff. Thanks for this wonderful post.

    • It is cruel, Marg. It’s a difficult topic to think and write about for those of us who can’t imagine why this is still being done to innocent animals.

  40. The link for the Bethesda screening doesn’t work for me and I don’t see that date on the website. Do you have more information on that?

    Mary Sue

  41. Many years ago I used to have this done to my kitties before I knew how bad it was. Still feel bad about it. I was also told by a vet sometimes they grow back & can cause issues. Not sure if that is still true. I would never ever do this to a cat now. I just make sure we have lots of scratch toys. I have never heard it explained like that before. OMG it sounds so painful. Thank you for this post.

    • Feebee, my first cat, was declawed, Sue, because like you, I didn’t know any better, and my vet at the time recommended it for all indoor cats. I still feel sick to my stomach at the thought of what I put him through. Thankfully, he had no visible ill effects from the surgery.

      • I feel the same way. I worked in Vet hospitals after Declawing my oldest male and after that I said I would never do it. The only reason I did was because my stepmom said I had to if I was going to live there otherwise I wouldn’t have. He didn’t even do anything destructive. My younger male is not declawed and I trim them all the time. He is great about not clawing stuff he shouldn’t. When I catch him about to he stops.

    • The one and only cat I had declawed, against my will and better judgement, did have one grow back and it was bent inward. I hated it and myself to having it done

  42. I am so happy that you posted this……my stepdaughter had purchased a Sphinx cat that they were thinking of declawing (this was this past August) and I nearly lost my mind when she mentioned she was thinking of declawing it. Thankfully, they haven’t and I am praying that they never do.

    • I’m glad your stepdaughter didn’t declaw her cat, Caren! It’s shocking to me how many people just don’t realize what a horrific procedure it is.

    • Instead of de-clawing, talk to the vet about putting the rubber caps on the vet did my two boys for free, and they’re just glued on

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