Declawing, the Reality of it All

When I was a little girl we had “Kouklo”. My Siamese cat. He was a beautiful dark, seal point, with a kink in his tail and he was blue eyed–not cross-eyed. I remember him like it was yesterday. Coming home from school my mother surprised me with this little kitten in a box. I was overjoyed and thus began my journey with my best friend.

Mother was the one to keep things on track with the cat. The litter box, the food purchasing, the vet checks, the neutering and the declawing. I actually remember the day he came home from his declawing ordeal. Mother warned us to leave him alone because he was healing. I never gave it a second thought that this was wrong, but rather it was just part of the scheme of things, so that our indoor cat would not rip up the sofa or curtains, not that he ever showed any inclination to do so.

Today’s perspective on declawing a domestic house cat has brought about some heated discussions and different lines of thought. Is it the right thing to do?

Investigating this topic has brought me to the decision that declawing one’s house pet (cat or dog) is not right, nor is it humane. This perspective is now at the forefront of feline and canine care so that many veterinarians are not carrying out these surgeries any longer. It is old school and is considered unhealthy, and greatly inhumane for the cat. If you are being told by a veterinarian that this surgery is standard, or of no concern, you are being lied to.

Why are claws important to cats?

Declawing is pretty much an American thing. It is a surgical procedure people do for their own convenience without realizing what actually happens to their beloved cat. In England declawing is termed “inhumane” and “unnecessary mutilation.” In many European countries it is illegal.

The claws of a cat perform a number of vital functions. When it scratches different surfaces, a cat is creating a visual and scent identification mark for its territory. There is also a psychological comfort through kneading, helping the animal climb to safety or to secure a high vantage point. Also a cat’s claws help the it fully stretch his back and legs. A declawed cat never experiences the head-to-toe satisfaction of a full body stretch.

A pet owner’s decision to declaw their cat may be based on more myth than fact. Here are common reasons people choose to proceed:

  • To protect the furniture or other items in the house
  • Unwillingness or non-belief a cat cannot be trained to refrain or redirected from scratching
  • To stop the cat from scratching its owner, children or other humans
  • A friend or other family member’s cat is declawed and seems fine
  • Have always declawed family cats
  • The veterinarian has recommended it as a standard procedure
  • Misinformation or uninformed about the actual surgery and its brutality
  • A cat that uses its claws is demonstrating normal behavior

Facts About Declawing

Declawing is not like a manicure. It is serious surgery. Your cat’s claw is not a toenail. It is actually closely adhered to the bone. So closely adhered, that to remove the claw, the last bone of your the cat’s claw has to be removed. Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat’s “toes”.

  • Declawing a cat is very painful.
  • Declawing is major surgery.
  • Declawing is illegal in 14 countries
  • Declawing has dangerous side effects for the cat
  • “Onchectomy” surgery amputates, (yes, “amputates”) the entire last joint toe (marder) of the paw
    This surgery is the equivalent to having the tips of a human finger cut off at the first joint below the fingernail.
  • The amputation is conducted by either a guillotine nail cutter or with a scalpel blade that dissects the two bones.
  • A surgical glue fills the hole left behind, with its bonding ability and is the paw is covered in bandages before the anesthesia has worn away. The layers of bandages are removed before going home.
  • The glue does not always remain intact so that painfully re-gluing is necessary without anesthesia;
  • The cat will have several days of walking difficulty.
  • Some cats are found to thrash around in their holding cage at the vets post-surgery due to excruciating pain. Some cats huddle in the corner, helpless in overwhelming pain.

Post-Surgery

  • Re-growth: A cat’s claw can re-grow years after surgery
  • Pain: The cat will endure lots of pain and/or phantom pain, in one or more of its toes, throughout its life.
  • Joint Stiffness or “Frozen Joints” because the tendons that control the toe joints retract post  surgery.
  • Litter box Problems: Declawed cats may have more litter box problems than clawed cats. Households with cats refusing to use the litter box may spend thousands of dollars replacing drywall, carpets, and sub-floors to repair urine damage.
  • Biting: Some declawed cats do seem to “notice” that their claws are missing, and turn to biting as a primary means of defense.
  • Change in personality: A friendly, delightful kitten may become a morose, fearful, or reclusive cat, never to recover its natural joy, grace, and love of exploration.
  • Death: There is always a small but real risk of death from any general anesthesia, as well as from bleeding or other surgical complications.

Watch the following video as Dr. Li, of Singapore, speaks out against cat declawing. Warning some parts of this video are graphic.

Countries that have Outlawed Cat Declawing or
Consider it Extremely Inhumane

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • Italy
  • Austria
  • Switzerland
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Ireland
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Slovenia
  • Brazil
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Serbia
  • Montenegro
  • Macedonia
  • Slovenia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Bosnia
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Northern Ireland
  • Portugal
  • Belgium
  • Israel

There is plenty of information out there to educate one’s self on the brutality of declawing.
Watch the video below and follow the link.

The Paw Project – follow this link for more information.

Keeping Your Cat Healthy – Aiding In Its Need to Scratch

Except that your cat’s health is dependent on its need to scratch. Provide it with a proper sisal scratching post or box. Also on the market are claw caps and claw trimmers.

You must be willing to work with your cat to maintain healthy scratching activity.
1. Provide an irresistible scratching surface.
2. Praise your cat when he/she uses the appropriate surface and scold when claws are used inappropriately.
3. Trim your cat’s claws.

Read about helpful devices to aide in your cat’s necessity to scratch here.


Please follow the link below to find a veterinarian in your area that does NOT declaw cats or dogs.
Encourage your veterinarian to get on the list!


Veterinarians that Do Not Declaw


Love your cat for who it is and its nature, like it loves you that way.

4 thoughts on “Declawing, the Reality of it All

  1. Very informative post you have here! I declawed one of my cats…that’s it…I swore I’d never do it again and I haven’t. That poor thing! It took him forever to get over that. It was traumatizing to him. I don’t know that he ever really recovered from it, honestly. I felt terrible doing it (it was over 20 years ago, by the way), but the vet said it was no big deal. Yeah…to him, maybe. Anyway, I really like this post and am really glad you posted a link to the vets that don’t declaw. I think that will be super important for someone looking for a vet that won’t try to persuade them to go that route.

    1. Hi Midge, thanks for your comments. I completely understand the regret of declawing one’s feline baby. You are right, on everything you have written. You probably did not have the real facts about the surgery. It is a mindset that has been passed on. The US is the worst country for declawing. Cats do not “recover” from this surgery as it is a life long pain and loss. Getting the word out on how awful and wrong declawing one’s cat — or dog, is my goal. There are plenty of behavior modification choices. (see my other post “Alternatives to Declawing”) And as I always say, “if a human is so concerned about their furniture or drapery, that they have to mutilate their animal companion, then they should not have one.” Lainey

  2. Over here in Europe, declawing a cat is illegal. It’s an enlightened position and declawing is considered to be cruel, inhumane and animal abuse. I’ve never understood why it’s legal in many parts of the USA. One reason does appear to be that owners who don’t want (or can’t) let their cats outdoors don’t want their furnishings scratched. Well, if they can’t deal with that, they shouldn’t own a cat. It’s not a fluffy fashion accessory. It’s a living, breathing mini-predator.

    A couple of years ago I saw a documentary called The Paw Project (http://www.pawprojectmovie.com/) on Netflix. Anyone considering owning a cat or declawing a cat should be forced to watch it. I often wonder how those who sanction declawing would feel if their nails were pulled out by the root, perhaps in a botched procedure and how they’d fare with everyday tasks having no nails. Anyway, here’s the trailer for The Paw Project for anyone who’s interested…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8pNuFDQrtg

    1. Hello Gary. We are so very in tune with regard to the topic of declawing cats — and dogs too! I applaud so many European countries that have made it illegal. We here in the US are pathetic to still have this inhumane legality! For an animal to have its claws, is its God given right.
      And yes, The Paw Project is the movie to watch for anyone who has a cat or a dog. Declawing is a life long painful experience. How could anyone do that to their animal companion?! Thank you so much for your comment and for the links! Lainey

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