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8 Facts About Declawing Cats

Declawing (or onychectomy) is a procedure that removes a cat's claws and the toes at the end of its paws. Several methods are used to declaw cats, including surgical amputation and laser surgery.

Declawing is often seen as a quick fix for cat owners who want to prevent their cats from scratching and damaging furniture. But it's important to understand that declawing can cause severe physical and psychological pain for cats, not to mention an increased risk of infection due to the open wounds created in the process.

Facts About Declawing Cats

Do you know what it means to declaw a cat? The Paw Project is a non-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to educating the public about the painful and crippling effects of feline declawing. Here are a few facts about declawing kitties from The Paw Project:

    1. Removing a cat's claws is the amputation of the last knuckles of a cat's paw, equivalent to amputating a human finger at the previous joint.

      2. Declawing can be an excruciating surgery with associated health risks like bleeding, nerve damage, and infection.
        3. Declawed cats can become permanently lame, be in constant pain, or develop arthritis.

          4. Both house cats and big cats held in captivity are declawed.

            5. Sadly, many vets perform declawing without informing clients about the details of the procedure.

              6. Declawed cats allowed outside have difficulty defending themselves against cats or other animals.

                7. Declawed cats are over-represented at shelters. They have difficulty finding new homes because of physical and behavioral problems associated with being declawed (deformed and painful feet, biting, avoiding the litter box, etc.)

                  8. There are many humane alternatives for cat owners to prevent furniture scratching besides declawing, including scratching posts, regular nail trimmings, nail caps, and applying sticky tape to furniture.

                  The American Association of Feline PractitionersAmerican Veterinary Medical AssociationAmerican Animal Hospital Association, and top veterinary behaviorists believe declawing should not be considered a regular or preventative surgery.

                  The Declawing Procedure

                  Cat stretching claws on couch

                  It's imperative to understand what you're getting into if you plan to declaw your cat. You must realize that this process is a surgical amputation of your cat's last digit at the joint. This procedure will also use instruments similar to what's used for human finger amputations.

                  This experience will be harrowing for your cat. Healing can take anywhere from several weeks to months. Your pet can also get nerve damage or other complications after the operation.

                  You should also note that a declawing procedure on your pet doesn't just affect their claws. Cat claws are attached to a piece of bone, and to remove them, this bone must be amputated. This means declawing is akin to cutting off your finger at the last knuckle. If you truly love your pet, please think twice about doing this procedure to your cat!

                  Laws And Regulations Related To Cat Declawing

                  Did you know that there are laws and regulations related to cat declawing? Whether declawing is allowed or prohibited varies from country to country. For example, cities like Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have outlawed the procedure in the US. And in other US states, some municipalities have adopted regulations to discourage it.


                  Most European countries have now banned cat declawing entirely. These include Austria, Belgium, Norway, Germany, France, and Scotland.


                  Declawing cats is banned in certain provinces in Canada—British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Other provinces have put certain restrictions on it with varying rules for veterinarians and pet owners who wish to pursue the procedure.

                  The United States

                  On the other hand, declawing is still legal in 45 of 50 US states — though some cities within those states may have declared it illegal. Most veterinarians in more progressive cities will typically only do a "rescue" removal if an injury or illness damages a paw pad before adoption.

                  Alternatives To Declawing Your Cat

                  Did you know there are alternatives to declawing a cat? Sure, it might be tempting to opt for this short-term solution but keep in mind that alternative options will make your pet and your furniture happy.


                  Cat getting its nails trimmed

                  The simplest way to keep your cat from scratching furniture is to trim its nails. Specialty nail trimmers can help keep your kitty's claws in check since the tips will be removed rather than the entire claw. Just be sure to reward them with treats afterward!

                  Soft Paws

                  Soft paws are plastic nail caps glued onto a cat's claw and can come in colors to match their fur. They work by preventing claws from doing damage—but they must be replaced every 4-6 weeks. Remember that they cannot be used on younger cats under five months old since their claws are more fragile and may not keep the caps on as well.

                  Scratching Posts

                  Your cat needs something else to scratch instead of furniture—like a good scratching post. Place it close to the areas where your cat scratches most, so it knows where to go for an itch-relieving scratch session. It should also be sturdy and tall enough for them to stretch out while scratching and playing.

                  Providing your cat with alternative outlets for its claws and cat-proofing your home will make your furry friend and furniture happy. Isn't that worth it?

                  Whether you declaw your cats or not is ultimately up to you and your vet. But it's essential to understand the potential physical and emotional risks involved and the ethical implications of declawing our beloved pets.

                  Onychectomy FAQs

                  Is declawing a cat cruel?

                  Yes, declawing a cat is widely considered a cruel practice. This procedure can lead to long-term physical and emotional problems in cats.

                  How standard is the declawing procedure in cats?

                  Approximately 25% of pet cats in the United States are declawed. Owners usually do this to keep cats from scratching furniture or other pets.

                  However, the procedure is painful and can lead to long-term physical and behavioral issues for the cat, including increased aggression, litter box avoidance, and chronic pain.

                  When did it become illegal to declaw a cat?

                  Declawing was once widely accepted in veterinary medicine. However, it became a source of controversy as the years went by . . . and for a good reason. Experts eventually learned more about its severe and long-term effects on cats. New York was the first state in the US that ban cat declawing in 2019.

                    Check out the trailer for The Paw Project's documentary film to learn more about this issue.

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                    Tracy Pollard - March 21, 2023

                    After my friends husband died she had to downsize so I took on two of her cats,
                    I have never heard of declawing before and I’m so glad it has been banned in the majority of places..the amount of pain that these poor creatures must have gone through is terrible!
                    I’m so glad there are people like yourselves to educate and inform about this barbaric practice.
                    My cats are thankfully healthy and have plenty of scratching posts so have never been an issue but if they didn’t,declawing is something I would never resort to.

                    Yvonnes Cat - October 26, 2021

                    Meow (i hate you)

                    Yvonne Wood - April 22, 2015

                    I declawed several cats and we had a beautiful cat he was done too but I said never again. He learned to bite and no protection against dogs so we do not declaw our cats now and they are even better cats.I could cry thinking how much pain I put my previous cats.

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