Declawing

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Cat declawing and dog declawing (onychectomy) is an operation to remove an animal's claws surgically by amputating all or part of the distal phalanges, or end bones, of the animal's toes. Regardless of the tool used to perform the surgery, tendons, nerves, and ligaments are severed in the process.

Cat declawing is banned across Europe, the UK and many countries around the world.

In the U.S., more than 1 in 5 cats are declawed!


 

Image by Timo Volz

Healthy Claws, Healthy Cats

Cats' claws are not just for scratching. They use their claws to stretch and exercise their back and forelegs, which is also crucial for healthy organs and elimination.

 

Without claws, cats are less able to escape harm and their sole defense is biting. (More about that below.) Cats also use their claws for balance, communication (scenting), to display assertiveness and express excitement.

Declawing

Toes are for dancing and jumping for joy.

 

More than 1 in 5 use cats are declawed...for human convenience.  Many people just don't know that declawing means amputating the cat's toes up to the first knuckle and aren't informed that it will debilitate the cat for life. 

 

In addition to preventing the cat from effectively escaping predators, it also hinders the ability to stretch, walk and jump properly. This may lead to chronic foot pain, back, pain, tissue death and lameness. 

 

Behavior problems may result. Tender paws may cause a cat to find other places for evacuation. The reduced ability for self defense can lead to increased fear and anxiety, biting or other unwanted behavior

 

THERE ARE OTHER OPTIONS! Numerous options exist to prevent unwanted claw use, including reward-based training, rubberized nail caps, hormone spray and, of course, strategically placed scratching posts.

Science Reveals that
Declawing
CAUSES Behavior Problems

Less Convenient

Cats are often declawed to save furniture and to make their activities more convenient for the owner. But owners often don't know the level of mutilation involved and may not be informed that the surgery could increase, rather than decrease, undesirable behaviors.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery found that declawing resulted in significant increases in the odds of numerous unwanted behaviors including house soiling (7x), biting (4.5x), aggression (3x), back pain (3x), and barbering (excessive fur licking or chewing, 3x) when compared with non-declawed cats. 

Image by NINA PASCAL

Aggression

Following claw removal, a cat’s only defense when upset or fearful is biting. When touched, a painful, fearful or stressed declawed cat may react by attempting to bite as it has few or no claws to scratch with. During the physical examination of the cats in the 2017 study, many biting attempts occurred when cats were lifted, creating an arched back; when they were touched or petted on the back; or in anticipation of pain when a handler was reaching to touch the lower back or tail.

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Inappropriate Elimination

Declawing can lead to back pain associated with inappropriate elimination. Also, the act of walking on or digging in a gravel-type substance may result in pain and avoiding the litter box. Many cats that eliminate outside of the litter box choose a soft surface such as carpet, clothing or a location next to the litter box like a mat.

 You know how you're always saying I'm smart?...

 

Declawing is cutting off my toes up to the first knuckle. So, heck yeah, I'm definitely up for training!

Declawing means I could be in pain the rest of my life. It also means that I'd be more likely to avoid my litter box, bite,  and get back problems. Not to mention that the surgery could actually kill me. 

Life Threatening
Elective Surgery

Why?

Declawed cats suffer the savage pain of losing weight-bearing flesh, bones and tendons in their feet.

This debilitating surgery poses immediate risk of death and significant life-long risk for persistent lameness, behavior problems, back and other chronic pain according to the  Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

Image by Gift Habeshaw
Image by Antoine GIRET

Raw Bio-Waste

Do we really need more waste?

In addition to widespread feline suffering and loss, declawing also contributes tons of raw bio-waste and used surgical supplies to landfills and other disposal

every year.

Effective Alternatives to Declawing


There are many ways to stop unwanted clawing without surgery.

Reward-Based Training

Cats are highly intelligent and respond to reward-based training with high value treats. Chicken anyone?

Scratching Posts

Tried and true, scratching posts are designed to attract cats. Catnip, hormone spray and other enticing options can make them even more appealing. To be fully effective, posts need to be positioned in a prominent area. Scratching structures come in a broad range of shapes, sizes and price ranges, from designer options to thrift store bargains.

Nail Caps

Developed by a veterinarian, rubberized nail caps look like a cat's nail but are hollow inside. The nail caps easily fit over the cat's nail and are secured with a safe, non-toxic adhesive. Soft Paws blunt the claws so that when a cat scratches, no damage occurs.

Hormone-Mimicking Products

Hormone-mimicking products guide cats to appropriate places to scratch. As a bonus, the pheromones also reduce stress.

Some content on this page is excerpted from the

Pet Professional Guild Statement on Cat Declawing