Please tell us your thoughts re de-clawing cats

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    We are thinking about bringing a couple of kittens into our lives/home and for various reasons are considering having them de-clawed.

    We’re asking that you share with us your thoughts re this practice and ask that you are ADULT about it, and please don’t belittle, berate or be a butt-head. If that’s what you feel you need to do then post your response on Craigslist where that type of thinking belongs and save the space here for sincere opinions and honest facts.

    At this time we wish to keep the reasons quiet to see how your responses apply to them, or not.




    Hi grog.

    Simply put, as described to me by a good friend who has been involved in helping cats one way or another for over thirty years, (actually paraphrasing here), but it would be like pulling a persons fingernails out, cuticle and all.

    Hopefully my friend will also see this, and clarify if I’m not remembering correctly.

    As an alternative, you might want to consider Soft Paws.




    I’ve had four cats that I had declawed over the last 4 decades. All lived great indoor-only lives and the one remaining of the 4 is 21 yrs old. All have been very well behaved and normal cats (if normal is possible for a cat). Now, I have 2 other cats (2yr old and 6yr old) that have replaced those who have gone to rainbow bridge. These two younger cats have not been declawed for the reasons noted by Mike. However, it is frustrating to have furniture ruined, as despite a clawing tree/rug/bridge in every room, they eventually want and will claw things. While the cawing equipment minimizes furniture cawing, i can’t be home every minute of every day. I now just consider it part of my household decor. We have a floor to ceiling clawing tree in my living room which as really helped.

    Other posters – please do not villify the poster. Its great they are asking this question.



    As a vet who has worked at a shelter years ago, most of the cats who were brought in to us that were declawed had issues with inappropriate urination. It is much more common in cats that are declawed because they have pain when they are using the litterbox after the procedure and end up with a negative association between using a litterbox and peeing. Part of the reason we did not adopt out kittens to people who would declaw was because many of them would come back to us for inappropriate urination and then be much harder to adopt out the second time.

    In addition declawed cats have many more problems with aggression. As a vet I am much more fearful of declawed cats than cats with claws. This is because they do not have the claws to strike with so they go directly to biting. This can especially be an issue with small children (I know my son got scratched a few times by our cats without lasting damage but a bite is much more serious). About half the cats I had to euthanize at the shelter for aggression (not counting ferals) were declawed.

    In general I have found declawed cats to be more prone to stress and not adept as well to change as non declawed cats.

    To follow up on Mike’s point, declawing is a full amputation of the most distal digit so not just the finger nail and cuticle but everything beyond the last knuckle.

    Personally as a vet I do not do declaws and never have because I do not believe in them for the above reasons.

    We have four of our own cats and provide many different scratching posts, cover furniture with blankets or throws and accept that there will still be occasional scratch marks. Overall however our furniture is in pretty good shape.

    I hope you will consider not declawing, which it sounds like you are still very open about. I appreciate your openness in seeking others opinions.




    FACT: Most declawed cats develop behavior problems like peeing everywhere and biting.

    If your furniture is that important to you don’t get a cat. You do not mention kids, so I can not comment if your concerns are with scratching the kids?

    SeekingEuros needless to say you have been very lucky, I hope the cats feel the same way.

    Declawing a cat is like removing your first knuckle. Most LEGIT rescues won’t even talk you. You can get a free kitten off of craig’s any time. You don’t mutilate any animal suit your preferences.




    Hi Grog!

    Most cats can be taught to scratch on appropriate items and it doesn’t matter if they are young or old. Diligence is the key and so is education. Cats will scratch for lots of reasons; communication and helping to shed the outer layer of the claw for example. They may also scratch at the furniture if something is bothering them.

    You might find that neither or only one has the inclination to scratch at anything. My female only scratched at the carpeted scratching post when she started feeling bad from kidney disease and once she was taking fluid she stopped. My male has two he loves. They are both soft carpet. He will not use one with rope, sisal or one with a shag type carpet.

    I grew up with the idea that barn cats had claws and indoor cats didn’t. It was not until I did some research and spoke with numerous Vets that I decided that declawing was not an option for me. I also know that accidents happen and if a kitten/cat gets out, declawing will lessen its ability to defend itself.

    Give it time and be patient. Before you welcome them into your home, go to the library or bookstore and get a comprehensive book about cats. Learn how cats perceive the world around them and how they see themselves and others in it, then take what you learned and have fun building a relationship with them.



    Grog: I’ve had the pleasure of having cats in my life continuously since I was very young, with the exception of one stretch of a few years in the 2000s. I have declawed only one of my cats. At the time, she was an only cat, and I decided to do it basically to protect the furniture of all of my various friends and family members who were willing to take care of my kitty when I was traveling, which was a lot.

    I regret having done it, for a number of reasons. I’m not going to say it ruined her life or anything, but it changed her personality in big and small ways, all of them for the worse. She went from being a confident and dynamic cat to a very anxious and needy one. Over time, her paws kind of collapsed in on themselves and she couldn’t even stand comfortably for any length of time. It affected her ability to do things like jump up onto something tall, because she had so little control. Jumping down was worse, because it caused her pain, and that part never really went away. She couldn’t grab and hold onto cat toys anymore, and I don’t think she ever successfully captured a fly or moth again in her life. She was an indoor kitty, so I wasn’t worried about whether she could defend herself, but, like many indoor cats, she got out a few times, and on one of those occasions she had a life-threatening encounter with my neighbor’s very big, unleashed dog. For my cat’s sake, I wished she could have at least had a weapon of her own that day.

    My cat lived for many years and I was very sad when she died. A few years later, when I decided to adopt two kittens, I looked around at my nice furniture and my nice carpets, and I admit I wasn’t loving the idea of things getting clawed up (or, for that matter, being shed on and puked on). But when I thought about my former cat, I could not imagine declawing again.

    I would not presume to judge another person for making a different decision. But I will tell you the same thing I have told friends who have considered declawing (and have asked me for my opinion), which is that, to this day, I cannot think about this cat I loved for so many years without feeling primarily guilt, regret, and shame. To me, what I did was selfish and short-sighted. When I compare those feelings to the ones I have now with my two lovely, hilarious friends, the furniture just doesn’t even cross my mind.



    We had two kittens declawed many years ago before I really knew what it entailed, as the previous posters have explained. I didn’t realize it was like amputating part of a digit, I thought of it as more like a permanent nail trim. I will admit that those two cats were declawed very young (at the same time they were neutered) and were very bonded with each other, never went outside, and they did not exhibit the behavior issues that are often associated with declawed cats.

    Fast forward to today, when one of our cats is a declawed rescue (all four paws). We have had issues with inappropriate urination and aggression. As mentioned above, he is a biter. The poor little guy slips and slides all over the hardwood floors because he can’t get traction. He just never really seems like a happy and well adjusted cat. Declawing was clearly a disaster for him.

    Our other cat has her claws, and I would never declaw a cat again. We have lots of scratching surfaces, keep her claws trimmed, and accept that with all of that, sometimes things will get scratched up. But they’re just things. You can also try the soft paws – I’ve never used them.

    Thanks for asking for opinions, and I’m glad to see you’re getting thoughtful responses.



    Grog, the ASPCA and the Humane Society provide good information summaries about declawing:



    I believe it is illegal in San Francisco. I wish it were here. Waterworld’s story is poignant.



    I wouldn’t do it because I think it’s cruel. My half dozen or so cats in life have never clawed furniture, just the scratching posts I’ve provided for them. In those first couple of days, they easily learn a stern “No.”

    My mom, on the other hand, has always declawed her indoor and indoor/outdoor cats. Her cats have never had any issues as described above. Those that went outside defend themselves by laying on their backs and using their back claws. Saw this thrice with two large dogs and one coyote. That said, her last cat she got was a rescue already declawed, as she has changed her mind and thinks it’s cruel, too, so didn’t want to be responsible for doing it.


    We have 1 declawed cat (came that way from the pound) and one clawed cat (found her on the street).

    Every issue Lena has mentioned about declawed cats we have with the declawed cat. :(



    With the exception of the last few years, I have never NOT been cat owned.

    Two of the 6 felines that I have shared time with were declawed (one came that way, the other my partner at the time had done) and never did we experience any of the symptoms described above.

    Both were 24/7 indoor beasts and very well loved.

    However looking back on them after reading all the others input, I realize that the cat that came clawless had sore paw issues during the last few years of its life but at the time didn’t realize that that was probably the problem.

    Would I do it again? Tough question, but probably not.

    With the exception of one responder here, this is a very insightful post, one I’m glad was brought up.

    I guess there is always a ‘butthead’ in every crowd.



    the claws come with the cat. but if you keep the points of their claws blunted, they can’t do too much damage. of course, they’ll want a scratching post and will try to sharpen them again, so it’s best to have one handy lest they start eyeballing the leather chair.

    they also need tall scratching posts, as most cats use this as a way to stretch their backs, too.

    speaking of claws, though, grog, you should also learn how to trim a cat’s nails before bringing one home. i think most vets will do it for a modest fee, but packing cats into carriers for something so trivial isn’t a pleasant or convenient prospect.

    there are a number of other ways to discourage cats from clawing furniture. shelf/contact paper, sticky side out, is a great deterrent. once the cat steps in the sticky stuff there’s instant negative association.

    what you’ll find out pretty quickly, though, is that cats’ claws are usually retracted until they feel like they need them.



    It’s also not necessary to vilify those who have the audacity to speak out against cruelty. Caring about the welfare of powerless animals does not justify name calling, such as “butthead”. Just saying.

    Declawing is not just akin to pulling out fingernails, but as Lena and Elikapeka mentioned, involves removing the first segment of the digit – a truly horrific procedure. I’m really surprised it’s still legal. When a cat’s nails are trimmed on a regular basis they eventually become thick and blunt and can do no damage. Most pets, including dogs, require some kind of nail trimming as part of their regular routine of care. It’s part of the responsibility of being a pet owner. I trim my cats nails about every other week; it’s not at all difficult.

    The product that Mike mentioned is an option, although I’ve heard mixed reviews about performance. You have to trim the cat’s nails before applying anyway, and they tend to fall off. I’d be a little worried that the cat would chew them off and swallow them.



    I don’t think the OP was calling people who care about animals buttheads, that is a huge stretch. It’s great that they asked and that they got good info. If I asked that question in this forum I would want to mitigate some of that too by saying “please don’t be automatically upset with me for asking, I just want to know.” And it’s happened anyway, so I guess that’s the way it goes. Sorry, OP. Personally, I have never had a declawed cat and I would have a very hard time doing it. I too have seen those nail caps and that might be a good option – mine wouldn’t stand for it, but that’s just them.



    Hi Grog-

    Glad you asked before have the procedure performed. While it is (IMO) an absurd and unkind thing to do to a pet, the side effects (if you read ACTUAL LITERATURE on them and not uncited studies on web pages) occur in about 16% to 35% of individuals. They are, I’ve found, generally as listed above, with deformities, limping, and inappropriate urination topping the list.


    While these side effects certainly don’t occur in “most” cats (as stated above and according, again, to actual published and reviewed studies), you certainly wouldn’t risk doing something that causes deformities in 35% of humans, right? I hope you decide against it.



    I adopted my two cats as adults from a shelter; their previous owner had them declawed (front). While, thankfully, no urination issues, one of them is a wicked biter. I don’t know if that’s due to the lack of claws, but think it likely. They do have their back claws and so my leather furniture and fabric bedcovers are still damaged from being used as traction. I trim their back claws periodically which cuts down on the pain since they also use me as traction.

    When these boys are gone in a few years and I get new pals, I would not declaw them.



    I am a volunteer with the Seattle Humane Society and we consider this to be an inhumane proceedure, for the reasons well outlined above.

    I get asked about this a lot from the public and many people are simply unaware of what de-clawing really is and the physical and behavioral ramifications.

    I thought I saw something on a TV program (probably Animal Planet) about some plastic tips that can be put over cats nails – but I dont know much more than that. There would be questions about that kind of product as well, but it might be worth looking into. Or perhaps someone here might know more..



    Oh also, I wanted to mention to Grog, that there are a good selection of de-clawed cats at shelters already. Please consider 2 already de-clawed cats before amputating healthy young cats.



    Lisa M, excellent suggestion about adoption. Also, while most or all urban cats should ideally be indoor only, it’s absolutely essential for declawed cats.



    i have another tip for the OP that’s kind of off-topic (if he/she is a first-time cat surrogate). thinking about cat scratches and claws…

    do not use your hands as a substitute for toys.

    cats need structured play time with toys that they can catch and eventually (after 15 minutes or so) “kill.”

    if they think that your hands are those toys, they will most likely become biters, and they might turn vicious.

    for the uninitiated, cats are not just toilet-trained dogs, and they shouldn’t be treated as such.

    but given the right environment, they can be awesome and forgiving roommates, and they can give you back much more than you give them.



    do not de-claw; in the event the cat gets outside it needs a defense


    HMC Rich

    Just don’t call me Beavis, either.

    My 18 year old cat was de-clawed by the previous owner. I didn’t realize how destructive de-clawing was when I was younger. He was a biter. He mostly sleeps now. Our other cats still have their claws thankfully.

    I would never let a cat be de-clawed. Please don’t do it.



    Besides reiterating the above comments to please not de-claw your kitties I wanted to add if your reasons to de-claw are to fit in with your lifestyle or household, maybe a feline just isn’t a fit. Instead of altering an animal to work for you, why not find one that naturally has the qualities you seek?

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