Declawing Cats: Why You Should Think Twice Before Doing It - the Controversy over Declawing Cats: Why You Should Think Twice Before Doing It

Declawing cats, also known as onychectomy, is a surgical procedure that involves removing the last bone of each toe along with the attached claw. It is usually performed on the front paws, but sometimes on all four paws. The procedure is irreversible and can have lasting effects on the cat’s physical and mental health.

Declawing cats is a controversial topic among cat owners, veterinarians, animal welfare advocates, and lawmakers. Some people see it as a necessary and humane way to prevent cats from scratching furniture, people, or other animals. Others view it as a cruel and unnecessary mutilation that causes pain, suffering, and behavioral problems for cats.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of declawing cats, as well as the alternatives available for cat owners who want to protect their furniture and themselves from scratches.

The Pros of Declawing Cats

Some of the arguments in favor of declawing cats are:

  • It can prevent cats from damaging furniture, carpets, curtains, or other household items with their claws. This can save cat owners money and hassle in repairing or replacing damaged items.
  • It can prevent cats from injuring people, especially children, elderly, or immunocompromised individuals, who may be more vulnerable to infections or complications from cat scratches. This can reduce the risk of legal liability or medical expenses for cat owners.
  • It can prevent cats from harming other pets, such as dogs, birds, or rodents, who may coexist with them in the same household. This can reduce the risk of fights, injuries, or stress for both the cats and the other animals.
  • It can make cats more suitable for apartment living, where they may have limited space or access to outdoor areas. This can increase the chances of cats being adopted or kept by their owners, rather than being abandoned or euthanized.

The Cons of Declawing Cats

Some of the arguments against declawing cats are:

  • It can cause severe pain, bleeding, infection, nerve damage, or bone fragments for cats during and after the surgery. This can require additional medication, treatment, or follow-up visits for the cats, which can increase the cost and stress for both the cats and the owners.
  • It can impair the cats’ natural ability to walk, balance, climb, jump, or groom themselves. This can affect their mobility, agility, and comfort, as well as their ability to express their natural behaviors and instincts.
  • It can alter the cats’ personality, temperament, or mood. This can lead to increased anxiety, aggression, depression, or fearfulness for the cats, as well as decreased trust, affection, or sociability with their owners or other animals.
  • It can increase the cats’ risk of developing other health or behavioral problems, such as arthritis, obesity, litter box avoidance, biting, or spraying. This can reduce the quality of life and well-being of the cats, as well as create more challenges and frustrations for the owners.

The Alternatives to Declawing Cats

Fortunately, there are many alternatives to declawing cats that can address the issues of scratching without harming the cats or their claws. Some of the alternatives are:

  • Providing the cats with appropriate scratching posts, pads, mats, or toys that can satisfy their natural urge to scratch and sharpen their claws. These should be made of materials that the cats prefer, such as sisal, cardboard, or wood, and placed in strategic locations where the cats like to scratch, such as near windows, doors, or furniture.
  • Trimming the cats’ claws regularly, using a nail clipper or a file designed for cats. This can keep the claws short, blunt, and less likely to cause damage or injury. However, care should be taken not to cut too close to the quick, which is the pink part of the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves, as this can cause pain and bleeding for the cats.
  • Applying soft plastic caps, such as Soft Paws or Soft Claws, to the cats’ claws, using a non-toxic adhesive. These can cover the tips of the claws and prevent them from scratching or piercing anything. They come in different sizes, colors, and styles, and can last for several weeks before they need to be replaced.
  • Training the cats to use the scratching posts or pads, and to avoid scratching the furniture or people, using positive reinforcement, such as praise, treats, or toys. This can teach the cats what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and encourage them to follow the rules. However, patience, consistency, and repetition are required for this method to be effective.
  • Deterring the cats from scratching the furniture or other unwanted areas, using repellents, such as citrus, vinegar, or double-sided tape, or deterrents, such as noise, water, or air, that can create an unpleasant or startling sensation for the cats. These can discourage the cats from returning to the same spot and make them associate it with something negative. However, care should be taken not to scare or harm the cats, or to damage the furniture or other items.
  • Consulting a veterinarian or a behaviorist, who can examine the cats and determine the underlying causes or triggers of their scratching behavior, such as stress, boredom, anxiety, or medical issues. They can also recommend the best solutions or treatments for the cats, based on their individual needs and preferences.


Declawing cats is a controversial and complex issue that has both pros and cons for the cats and their owners. While some people may see it as a convenient and effective way to prevent scratching problems, others may see it as a cruel and unnecessary practice that causes more harm than good. Ultimately, the decision to declaw or not to declaw a cat should be made after careful consideration of the facts, the risks, the benefits, and the alternatives, as well as the cat’s personality, health, and well-being. The best option is the one that works for both the cat and the owner, and that respects the cat’s natural behavior and needs.

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