declawing cats

The Claw Conundrum: Why Declawing Cats Is a Feline Faux-Paw


This article has no affiliate links or products I recommend. It’s also not written with my typical, humorous tone. Why? Because it is a serious subject – one that is near and dear to my heart. It’s about declawing cats and why it is not only cruel but downright selfish of any human to inflict this barbaric procedure on the Fluffinator in their lives.

The debate surrounding declawing persists as a contentious issue. While some view it as a convenient solution (for them only) to prevent furniture scratching and other potential nuisances, others (like myself) argue vehemently against it, citing ethical concerns and potential health risks. In this article, I’ll delve into the practice of declawing, examining both its “pros” and cons, while unraveling why it’s widely regarded as a misguided decision.

What is Declawing?

Declawing, also known as onychectomy, is a surgical procedure performed on cats to remove their claws. Contrary to popular belief, declawing cats is not a simple trimming of the nails but involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. The non-technical term is “feline digital amputation”. Each toe is amputated to the first knuckle, the remaining skin flap is draped over the gaping wound and your cat is forced to walk on those stumps for the rest of its life.

Sounds dramatic? Well, it is. This procedure is typically done for the convenience of cat owners who wish to protect their furniture and belongings from potential damage caused by scratching.

The Pros of Declawing:

Protection of Furniture

One of the primary reasons cited in favor of declawing cats is the protection of household furniture and possessions from scratching damage.

Seriously – if you are that attached to your furnishings and cannot be bothered to properly scratch-post train your cat – get a stuffed animal.

Prevention of Scratching-Related Injuries

Declawing cats can potentially prevent scratches inflicted upon humans or other pets, reducing the risk of injury. Now, I can somewhat understand this if the human has an illness where a scratch would result in life-threatening injury, such as going through chemotherapy, any bleeding disorder, etc.

If you already are afflicted with a condition that makes a scratch dangerous, if not life-threatening to you, please consider adopting an already declawed cat from the shelter. If you recently acquired such condition and you have a cat, consider investing in soft-paws which is a cap that is put on your cat’s nails thus eliminating the potential of getting scratched. Keep in mind that these caps have to be maintained every month, so there is a cost factor involved.

If you consider declawing your cat, please don’t. Instead, try finding it a home where it can keep its claws.

Easier Integration into Multi-Pet Homes

Yes, believe it or not – that’s an argument the pro-declawing folks make and nothing could be further from the truth. A declawed cat is keenly aware of having lost its first line of defense and instead of scratching, it would likely result to biting.

Needless to say, a bite wound is far costlier to treat than a simple scratch.

The Cons of Declawing Cats

OK, now to the meat and potatoes of this article – the many reasons why you should not declaw a cat.

Pain and Discomfort

Declawing is a painful procedure that involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. Cats may experience acute pain during the recovery period. But don’t they have pain meds for that? Well, yes, yes! However, if not properly administered, the cat will still be in pain all while expected to continue using the litter box and having to cover their waste with raw and extremely tender paws.

And it doesn’t end there. Have you ever heard about phantom pain in amputees? Yes? Well, your cat is now an amputee and will without a doubt experience that same phenomenon. Feeling pain although there may be no physical reason for it.

declawing cats

Behavioral Changes

Declawing cats can lead to behavioral issues such as aggression, litter box aversion, and increased stress or anxiety in cats.

Going back to “pain and discomfort”. Your declawed cat is at high risk of developing litter box behavioral issues because it was forced to use that litter box right after being declawed, experiencing excruciating pain. And now you are surprised that Mr. Whisker Puff refuses to use that box and instead pees and poos on your area rug? 75% of all declawed cats turned into shelters are relinquished because they no longer use the litter box. They are the first to be euthanized and the last to be adopted.

Loss of Defense

Cats rely on their claws for self-defense and climbing. Declawed cats may feel vulnerable and defenseless, leading to increased stress and anxiety.

And you may think that a cat isn’t aware that you took its first line of defense. Well, let me be the first genius to tell you – yes, they KNOW. Now if the kitty feels the need to defend itself after having lost its first line of defense, the second line of defense will be utilized – the teeth. Many declawed cats turn into biters. So, what’s next? Pull all teeth?

Well, Konnie, aren’t you just a bit over the top? No, I am not. If you cite your pricey leather couch as the reason to declaw your cat, I only have to presume that the threshold of either dumping it at a shelter or throwing it outside is just as low. So, only makes sense to ask if pulling all teeth would be next on the list of “feline convenience modifications”.

Complications and Long-Term Health Risks

Declawing cats can result in complications such as infection, nerve damage, and lameness. Additionally, declawed cats may develop chronic pain or arthritis later in life.

The latter really hits home for me. After Snuggles, the neighbor’s cat got in the man’s way and he fell and broke his leg, she was first thrown into the garage and thereafter outside. One of my other neighbors alerted me to her plight and I took her in. She was already 15 years old and had some health issues. I took care of it all and got her pretty well fixed back up.

She hated other cats, so she called my bedroom her home. She was such a loving, sweet cat and a delight to have around. Every evening, when I got into bed, I grabbed her and we did a good ol’ snuggle fest. We watched YouTube together and had long and meaningful conversations.

Having been declawed altered Snuggles’ structural frame. Imagine you have to walk on the balls of your feet your entire life. I am sure you can see that this was the major cause of her ever-increasing arthritis.

She lived with me for two years. The day came when she could no longer hold her bladder or her bowels thanks to the declawing and was so arthritic that she couldn’t even walk properly. I had to make the painful decision to let her go. Although I only had her for two years, my world came crashing down when she took her last breath in my arms.

The Ethical Debate

Beyond the practical considerations, the ethical implications of declawing cats are profound. Many animal welfare organizations and veterinarians oppose declawing cats on the grounds of animal cruelty. Cats undergo a significant and irreversible procedure solely for the convenience of their human companions, without regard for their natural behaviors and well-being.

The Humane Alternatives

Fortunately, there are humane alternatives to declawing cats that prioritize both the comfort of cats and the preservation of household harmony:

Scratching Posts and Pads

Providing cats with appropriate scratching surfaces can redirect their natural behavior away from furniture.

Now, you may tell me that you’ve tried that and that your cat won’t use the scratching pad or post. Well, did you try hard enough? Long enough? Is the scratching contraption located in a convenient location (your living room!!)? Have you employed double-sided sticky tape to deter your feline overlord from using the couch?

I guess that you neither have tried everything nor have tried it properly nor have given it enough time. In 99% of the cases I have been confronted with in my rescue career, people didn’t put forth any effort worth discussing.

Regular Nail Trimming

Routine nail trimming can help keep a cat’s claws manageable and reduce the likelihood of damage.

Some cats don’t like having their nails trimmed. Some are wiggly making it hard. If you cannot manage yourself (it helps to have two people), just bring Fluff ‘N Puff to the vet once a month, pay $15 and done!

Soft Paws or Nail Caps

Soft Paws are vinyl nail caps that can be applied to a cat’s claws to prevent scratching damage. They are a great alternative to declawing cats. While they require regular replacement, they offer a safe and temporary solution.

I know several cat owners who swear by them and are even able to apply them without the need to bring their cat to a groomer or the vet. Yes, it is an added expense. But – you can rest assured that your cat won’t feel pain, won’t suffer any longterm health issues and your prized leather couch remains as beautiful as the day you got it.

In Conclusion

Declawing is a controversial practice with far-reaching implications for feline welfare and the human-animal bond. While it may offer short-term benefits in terms of furniture preservation, the long-term consequences for cats’ physical and psychological well-being cannot be ignored.

As responsible pet owners, we must seek alternative solutions to declawing cats that prioritize the health and happiness of our feline companions, rather than resorting to drastic and harmful measures. Let’s paws and reflect on the true cost of declawing, opting instead for compassionate and considerate care that honors the essence of our beloved cats.