Top Reasons Not to Declaw Your Cat

Be sure you have all the facts before subjecting your pet to this surgery

If you are thinking of declawing a cat or a veterinarian suggests declawing at the same time as neutering, you may want to consider these arguments against the procedure. It's a life-altering surgery for your pet, so it's important you have all the facts before making your decision. 

  • 01 of 09

    Declawing is not Just Nail Trimming

    Cat's paw raised in air
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    Be clear about what declawing is: the surgical amputation of the first joint of the cat's toes. Whether this procedure is accomplished with a scalpel, a guillotine-type cutter or a laser, it is major surgery, and not to be undertaken lightly.

  • 02 of 09

    Declawing is Painful Surgery

    Think of it as 10 amputations (if only the front feet are declawed). Pain meds may help initially, but phantom pain may last for weeks or months as nerve endings heal. While a cat will likely bounce back quickly from surgery after neutering, the pain from declawing can be excruciating for the animal, and lead to serious behavior issues.

  • 03 of 09

    Declawing Does Nothing to Benefit the Cat

    Unlike neutering, which does benefit the cat, both healthwise and behavior wise, declawing simply does nothing positive for the cat. It's most often done as a matter of convenience to its owner. 

  • 04 of 09

    Declawing Robs a Cat of its Chief Weapon of Defense

    A typical counter-argument is, "My cat is indoors only." Even indoor cats sometimes manage to escape. A declawed cat does not stand a chance against a large dog, a bigger cat, or a predator. Although it still has teeth, a declawed cat would need to get close to a predator to bite it, at which point it may already be too late.

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  • 05 of 09

    Declawing May Lead to Litter Box Problems

    Cats naturally are inclined to use their claws to bury their waste, which is why most take to using a litter box relatively quickly. But digging in litter or any other substance is painful for a declawed cat, and they'll likely associate the pain with the litter box itself. That may mean they avoid using the litter box altogether. 

  • 06 of 09

    Declawing Sometimes Leads to Biting Problems

    When cats lose their ability to give a quick warning scratch, they will often resort to their second line of defense: their teeth. Be prepared for a declawed cat to resort to biting when it feels defenseless or otherwise in danger.

  • 07 of 09

    Cats Need the Exercise Their Claws and Toes Provide

    Watch a cat stretch, whether horizontally on a carpet or vertically with a tall scratching post. It will grab the carpet or sisal with its claws, using the resistance to pull and stretch its muscles. Cats' claws actually play a large and positive role in their muscle tone and agility.

  • 08 of 09

    Altering Your Cat's Gait May Lead to Later Joint Problems

    Domestic cats are digitigrade, meaning they walk on their toes. Removing the toe's first digit will alter the way your cat walks​ and may affect the joints in its leg. This may eventually lead to your cat developing arthritis in its hip and other joints. So removing its claws can be seriously detrimental to your cat's long-term health.

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  • 09 of 09

    There Are Humane Alternatives to Declawing

    If you're still unsure about whether to go through with declawing consider this: there may be more humane alternatives. It's your decision, but please take your cat's needs into serious consideration before making such a drastic and permanent choice.