Why Cats Should Not Be Declawed

Cat Care

De-clawing is literally maiming a cat. It is illegal and termed “inhumane” and “unnecessary mutilation” in most countries of the world because of its crippling effects, not only physically, but emotionally and behaviorally. De-clawing may result in permanent lameness, arthritis, and other long-term complications. Many de-clawed cats suffer from depression and some case studies of cats that have suffered negative health effects due to this selfishly convenient, mostly American, cruel practice.

De-clawing is a serious surgery. It is not merely a trimming of the toenails, but an amputation of the last joint or bone of your cat’s “toes”. Envision this painful operation and its painful recovery period in which your cat still has to use his feet to walk, jump, and scratch in his litter box regardless of the pain and discomfort he is experiencing and you can understand why it is not a humane act. There are no wheelchairs or bedpans for cats.

Cats by nature are very self-sufficient and will try to hide their pain. De-clawed cats may begin to exhibit unacceptable behaviors that will do damage instead of prevent damage in your home, as they try to compensate for their discomfort.

Urine damage and property destruction are major ongoing results of de-clawing. They can’t dig properly in their litter box so they will often find a more comfortable place to urinate like your living room carpet or they may spray against your kitchen cupboards or doors. Urine penetrates deeper than any claws do once it gets in your drywall and floorboards! You may also experience chewing damage to things like wood furniture and cords.

De-clawing also deprives your cat of his primary means of defense, leaving him prey to predators if he ever escapes outside. A cat’s claws are vital to his sense of balance, mobility, survival, and to his sense of security. They feel helpless, naked, powerless, vulnerable, and often become hostile to people, including you, and are more apt to bite – teeth can penetrate much deeper than claws!

Your cat’s claws give him the grace, agility and beauty that is unique to felines. Amputating this important part of his anatomy drastically alters the conformation of his feet. Most cat guardians would not allow their cat to have this surgery if the word ‘amputate’ was used. The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) is “opposed to cosmetic surgeries and to those performed to correct ‘vices’. De-clawing generally is unacceptable because the suffering and disfigurement it causes is not offset by any benefits to the cat. De-clawing is done strictly to provide convenience to people.”

There are many veterinarians who refuse to de-claw or who de-claw only under extreme duress or medical emergencies. To me, the sign of a true and caring veterinarian is one that is respectful of your cats mind, soul and body.

The following is a list of countries in which de-clawing cats is either illegal or considered extremely inhumane and only performed under extraordinary circumstances: England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Portugal, Belgium, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and Yugoslavia.

You can discourage your cat from scratching in forbidden places by placing aluminum foil or duct tape over that area temporarily because cats do not like to scratch these types of surfaces. A squirt of water, loud noise or whistle can also deter him during the training period. If you choose to trim your kitty’s nails, keep in mind that he won’t be able to scratch as effectively and as powerfully as he desires and has strength for. Read more about trimming your cat’s claws here.

My home is filled with scratching posts that I bought from our local pet supply retailer that my cat, Maui, has loved to use since he was a kitten. He has never even thought about using our sofas or chairs! But for those who adopt adult pets or have a little more trouble trying to train their cats, look at this. Developed by a veterinarian, Soft Paws are vinyl nail caps that are applied to your cat’s claws. This amazing product effectively covers the claws so no damage occurs when your cat scratches. They will fall off with the natural growth of your cat’s nails, at which time you replace them as needed. But again, use discernment, as they may prevent your kitty from climbing up his post.

Since scratching is a natural behavior for your cat, you don’t want to take that away from him. Scratching is one way cats place their mark and establish their turf. Their paws also contain scent glands that leave their own special scent on their territory. It also serves to provide your cat exercise to keep him in good shape. The act of scratching stretches and pulls and works the muscles of a cat’s front quarters. Read more about how to introduce your cat to scratching posts here.

Depending on your kitty’s age, and his personality, and the amount of love, devotion and patience you convey to him, he will learn to use his new post for his scratching pleasure.

Written by Janis Cooper
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