Friendly Debate: All About Cat Declawing & What You Should Know


To declaw or not to declaw: It’s one of the most controversial discussions among cat owners, veterinarians, and animal welfare advocates. Many people believe that declawing a cat is inhumane. Is it? Let’s break down the facts.

Why do people declaw their cats?

People have their cats declawed for a few reasons. The most common is to prevent or deter undesirable behaviors like scratching people or furniture. Damage caused to couches, curtains and even wood furniture caused by  a cat’s natural desire to scratch can be frustrating and costly. Declawing may eliminate this behavior, but it very well may introduce other, less desirable behaviors related to litter box usage.

Elderly people or those with blood clotting conditions may desire to have their cat declawed to prevent their being scratched. Other people are concerned about the spread of bacteria and infection that can be carried under the cat’s nail, and believe that by removing the nails entirely, they can avoid that risk. There are also certain feline medical conditions that may necessitate an onychectomy; however, these cases are extremely rare.

What actually happens in the procedure?

The declawing procedure, or onychectomy, is an operation that involves surgically separating and removing the last bone of each toe. The wound is then stitched or glued closed, and the paws are wrapped to protect against infection. There is often a one- to two-week recovery period after the surgery for the cat to heal and adjust.

Why is it “bad”?

Performing an onychectomy is an unnatural procedure that can cause painful side effects for a cat. The amputation of the bone can cause severe pain. Declawing changes the anatomy of the cat’s feet, and may therefore hinder their ability to scratch, grab or hold onto an object as they previously could. Some countries have banned declawing altogether, citing the procedure as inhumane and unnecessary.

Alternatives to declawing

Cats have an instinctual need to scratch. Rather than discourage scratching altogether, Guardians should always provide suitable ways for a cat to exhibit normal scratching behavior without doing damage. The good news is that there are many safer, more humane alternatives to declawing that can help prevent scratch damage in the home. Alternatives to declawing include synthetic nail caps, anti-scratch tape that discourages scratching on nice furniture or other surfaces, and training to encourage him or her to use a scratch post.

Before deciding to have your cat declawed, it’s good to know all the facts and explore your options. For more information on cat declawing, check out the following helpful resources: