My husband and I have opened our hearts and our home to many cats (and
a few well-chosen dogs) for several decades. We are volunteers in a
local animal rescue organization that helps to find loving homes for
both cats and dogs. I consider myself to be an animal lover, but I am
not a fanatic: I do believe that there are times when the needs of the
humans in a household must override the needs of the pets.
The matter of declawing cats is a very controversial issue. The
opponents of declawing sometimes go to extremes, calling the practice
"torture" and "mutilation" and other emotionally-charged words. Since
there are few proponents who feel very strongly about declawing, the
Internet is crowded with sites condemning the practice.
I'm going to try to give you a balanced view, but I'll admit up front
that I have an opinion on this issue. I have declawed several of my
cats in the past, but if I had the decision to make over again, only
one of them would have been declawed: this was a rather spastic little
kitty who was so inept with his claws that he stuck to the carpet as
he walked across it, and he became entangled in almost anything that
had a nap or texture to it. My personal feeling is that a cat should
not be declawed solely because he or she is destructive with
furniture. There are better ways to handle behavioral problems, and
there are some interesting and effective alternatives to declawing and
I have gathered some online viewpoints, pro and con. This should help
you to evaluate your situation and make a humane decision for yourself
and your kitten.
DECLAWING: SOMETIMES IT'S OKAY
"Declawing of domestic cats should be considered only after attempts
have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively
or when its clawing presents a zoonotic risk for its owner(s).
The AVMA believes it is the obligation of veterinarians to provide cat
owners with complete education with regard to feline onychectomy. The
following points are the foundation for full understanding and
disclosure regarding declawing:
1. Scratching is a normal feline behavior, is a means for cats to
mark their territory both visually and with scent, and is used for
claw conditioning ("husk" removal) and stretching activity.
2. Owners must provide suitable implements for normal scratching
behavior. Examples are scratching posts, cardboard boxes, lumber or
logs, and carpet or fabric remnants affixed to stationary objects.
Implements should be tall or long enough to allow full stretching, and
be firmly anchored to provide necessary resistance to scratching. Cats
should be positively reinforced in the use of these implements.
3. Appropriate claw care (consisting of trimming the claws every 1 to
2 weeks) should be provided to prevent injury or damage to household
4. Surgical declawing is not a medically necessary procedure for the
cat in most cases. While rare in occurrence, there are inherent risks
and complications with any surgical procedure including, but not
limited to, anesthetic complications, hemorrhage, infection, and pain.
If onychectomy is performed, appropriate use of safe and effective
anesthetic agents and the use of safe peri-operative analgesics for an
appropriate length of time are imperative. The surgical alternative of
tendonectomy is not recommended.
5. Declawed cats should be housed indoors.
6. Scientific data do indicate that cats that have destructive
clawing behavior are more likely to be euthanatized, or more readily
relinquished, released, or abandoned, thereby contributing to the
homeless cat population. Where scratching behavior is an issue as to
whether or not a particular cat can remain as an acceptable household
pet in a particular home, surgical onychectomy may be considered.
7. There is no scientific evidence that declawing leads to behavioral
abnormalities when the behavior of declawed cats is compared with that
of cats in control groups."
American Veterinary Medical Association: AVMA position statement on
the declawing of domestic cats
"Declawing is a procedure whereby a veterinarian amputates the end
digit and claw of a cat's paws?similar in scope to cutting off a
person's finger at the last joint. The Humane Society of the United
States opposes declawing when done solely for the convenience of the
owner. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats and can be directed
to appropriate items.
However, if you feel that you must either declaw your cat or give her
up, we would rather see your cat stay in her home and be your lifelong
companion. If you do decide to have your cat declawed, we suggest that
you have the surgery done at the same time she's spayed (or neutered,
if your cat is a male). Never have rear paws declawed, and be sure to
always keep your cat indoors; without claws to defend herself or climb
to escape, your cat is in much greater danger outdoors?and the great
outdoors is a very unsafe place for cats to begin with."
St. Augustine Humane Society: Destructive Scratching
"Careful consideration should be given to whether or not you declaw
your cat. Declawing is the surgical removal of the claw and the
surrounding tissue that it retracts into. Usually, only the front
claws are removed, but sometimes the digits are removed as well.
Declawing is often the last resort for cats who have become veteran
scratchers of furnishings. Most cats can be trained from kittenhood
not to scratch the furniture or to scratch a scratching post when they
want exercise, but all cats will continue to scratch, with or without
claws, as scratching is one way of marking their territory.
Before declawing, you might want to consider soft plastic covers for
your cat's paws. In general, these should be put on by a vet and will
last about a month, despite your cat's efforts to remove them. Used in
conjunction with techniques to redirect clawing and scratching, covers
for your cat's paws may serve as an alternative to declawing.
If your cat is consistently destroying your home furnishings and all
other efforts have failed, you might want to have it declawed, but
first there are a few things of which you should be aware. Declawed
cats often compensate with their rear claws. They can still climb
well, but their ability to defend themselves will be impaired.
Declawed cats should not be allowed outside without supervision. Some
declawed cats will become biters when they discover that their claws
no longer work. Others may begin to growl."
Yahoo! Pets: Caring For Your Cat's Claws
"You alone must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of declawing a
cat but if it is a kitten don't take to long to make your decision
-the earlier the better(between 3-5 mos old is usually recommended)...
Try not judge people for decisions made as long as they were thought
out and without malice or cruelty involved. There was a man who loved
his cat dearly and the cat would play fight him. Unfortunately, this
man had AIDS and risked serious infection with the slightest scratch.
It was an older cat and being mean spiritted was not a candidate for
adoption. He chose to declaw the cat and the cat recovered well and he
continued to play fight with his owner.
I personally do not have any declawed cats nor believe in it but,
there are many incidents similar to the one above or have the same
mental stress involved that I have wrestle with what is right for the
owner and the cat. It is only those who take it callously that I
Remember, declawing is not a natural nor health saving process, though
it may be the only way for you and your pet. And it is harder on the
Talk to the Vet: Declawing Your Cat
DECLAWING: DON'T DO IT
"Declawing involves more than simply trimming a cat's nails to the
quick; it actually involves amputation of the tips of the digits,
bones and all. The inhumanity of the procedure is clearly demonstrated
by the nature of cats' recovery from anesthesia following the surgery.
Unlike routine recoveries, including recovery from neutering
surgeries, which are fairly peaceful, declawing surgery results in
cats bouncing off the walls of the recovery cage because of
excruciating pain. Cats that are more stoic huddle in the corner of
the recovery cage, immobilized in a state of helplessness, presumably
by the overwhelming pain. Declawing fits the dictionary definition of
mutilation to a tee. Words such as deform, disfigure, disjoint, and
dismember all apply to this surgery. Partial digital amputation is so
horrible that it has been employed for torture of prisoners of war,
and in veterinary medicine, the clinical procedure servesas a model of
severe pain for testing the efficacy of analgesic drugs. Even though
analgesic drugs can be used postoperatively, they rarely are, and
their effects are incomplete and transient anyway, so sooner or later
the pain will emerge.
'The operative removal of the claws, as is sometimes practiced to
protect furniture and curtains, is an act of abuse and should be
forbidden by law in all, not just a few countries.'(highly regarded
British textbook by Turner and Bateson on the biology of cat behavior)
However quickly cats forget the hideous experience of declawing, and
even though they may not hold grudges, that doesn't seem sufficient
justification for putting a family pet through such a repugnant
Kitten Rescue: To Declaw or Not to Declaw?
"Claws are involved in almost everything a cat does during her waking
hours. In the morning, she digs her claws into her scratching post and
pulls against the claws' resistance to energize and tone her upper
body. During playtime, her claws snag flying toys out of the air and
hold them in place. When she runs across the house and up the stairs,
her claws act like cleats to provide extra traction. When she scales
her kitty condo, she uses her claws like miniature mountaineering
crampons that let her reach the top with ease.
A cat uses claws to scratch an itch, manipulate catnip mice, grip a
narrow catwalk, hoist her body up to a high-up perch, and grab onto a
chair for stability during grooming. Claws are even used in
self-expression; for example, a slight extension of the claws is a
subtle way to say "I'm tired of being held and am ready to get down."
In some circumstances, claws are lifesavers, enabling a cat to climb
to safety or thwart an attacker.
All this and much more is lost when a cat is declawed.
Most of the world does not declaw. In practically every country where
cats are companion animals, declawing is illegal or effectively
banned. It is still common in the U.S. and Canada."
The Animal Spirit: Why Cats Need Claws
"Is Declawing cruel? Yes, it is. To remove a cat's claws is far worse
than to deprive cat owners of their fingernails. This is because the
claws have so many important functions in the life of a cat. A
declawed cat is a maimed cat, and anyone considering having the
operation done to his pet should think again. People hastily declaw
cats hoping to protect their furniture as well as themselves from
potential scratches. It's natural for a cat to scratch, but with a
little human effort, you can direct that energy so that you, your cat,
and your furniture can comfortably live together...
In addition to destroying the animal's ability to groom, climb, defend
itself against rivals, and protect itself from enemies, the operation
of declawing also eliminates the cat's ability to hunt. This may not
be important for a well-fed family pet, but if ever such a cat were to
find itself lost or homeless, it would rapidly die of starvation. The
vital grab at a mouse with sharp claws extended would become a useless
In short, a declawed cat is a crippled, mutilated cat, and no excuse
can justify the operation."
Pet Station: Is Declawing Cruel?
ALTERNATIVES TO DECLAWING OR TRIMMING
"Sticky Paws for Furniture keeps cats from scratching furniture. It
will also keep them off anything that you want. It has been applied to
wherever cats like to go but shouldn't be. It has proven effective as
a cat behavior modification tool to keep them away from stereo
speakers, drapes, counter-tops, even your favorite pillow. It also is
proving effective in deterring inappropriate elimination! See article
by noted cat writer, Dusty Rainbolt - Peeing Outside the Box
Additionally, it completely solves any moral dilemma about declawing
cats, which is half of the reason our product was developed in the
The virtually invisible solution to kitty shredding the corners of
your expensive furniture. These lightweight, crystal clear acrylic
shields can be attached to
the corners of most sofas and chairs in 5 minutes and are guaranteed
to immediately stop even the most aggressive scratcher.
"Developed by a veterinarian, Soft Paws are vinyl nail caps that glue
on to your cat's claws. This amazing product effectively covers the
claws so no damage occurs when your cat scratches."
"The Scat Mat is a touch sensitive training pad which says 'No', when you can't.
It quickly conditions pets to avoid prohibited areas with harmless,
low-power electronic pulses similar to static electricity. Place the
flexible vinyl Scat Mat in a room entrance, on your sofa, counter top
or the hood of your car. The touch sensitive pad will silently protect
prohibited areas from trespassers.
When touched, the battery sends small pulses to the mat for 3 seconds.
These surprising little 'zaps' quickly repel most animals who stay
away after one or two exposures - even after the mat is removed."
Pet Expo: Scat Mats
The Cat's Meow: Training Your Cat or Kitten to Scratch Appropriately
Little Big Cat: Declawing: A Rational Look
San Francisco Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: The Paws and The Claws
Amby: DECLAWING CATS: Issues & Alternatives
About Cats: How to Manage Your Cat's Claws
Declawing: What You Need to Know
Cat Scratching Solutions
My Google Search Strategy:
Google Web Search: "to declaw or not"
Google Web Search: "your cat's claws"
I hope this is helpful. If anything is unclear or incomplete, please
request clarification; I'll gladly offer further assistance before you
rate my answer.