Sunday 27 March 2011

Cat Declawing

I want to write about cat declawing but I don't want to alienate people who keep cats and who are good cat caretakers except for the fact that we disagree about declawing cats. As you might know I strongly dislike the operation and its sister operation the cutting of the tendon to the claw (tendonectomy).

I'd like to explain why I dislike declawing. I hope that people with the opposite view or people who are wavering in the middle ground, will listen and present their alternative ideas in comments.

There are numerous reasons why cat declawing is wrong. I'll present just the main ones here. I'll also present the reasons why vets support and encourage (yes, lots do) declawing. Actually there is only one reason that they can come up with. The cat owners who declaw also can only come up with one reason to declaw. Some cat owners may have a misunderstanding about the operation, so I would first like to show you the bits of cat that are cut off after the operation and it is not just removing the claws:

Set of ten toes and claws of declawed cat -
copyright protected. Don't breach copyright, please

I hope you are as shocked as me. As you can see that cat declawing is the removal of the last phalange or phalanx of each of the front toes of the cat. It is usually only done to the front paws as it is these that scratch. They are the primary weapons with the teeth that protect the cat.

Video above: this is me doing a spur of the moment video on cat declawing. See my Flickr photostream.

The first reason why cat declawing is wrong is because it is a major mutilation of the cat that does not benefit the cat's health and welfare - quite the opposite.

Think what we would feel like if the last joint of each of our fingers were amputated for no good reason. We would be massively distressed and physically disabled.

As you might expect ten amputations cause a lot of pain and blood and distress and confusion etc:

As I said, pain, fear and confusion reign after the operation

And all this controlled brutality befalls little kittens in the first months of their lives. Yes, kittens are the primary target for the vets in respect of this operation.

There have been numerous studies as to the effect cat declawing has on the cat, both physical and psychological. If you have declawed your cat you might well, justifiably argue that your cat looks and acts fine after the operation. He might be but he might not. You can't be sure because cats are damn good at hiding pain and discomfort - it is a survival thing and a declawed cat has a massively reduced chance of survival in normal life. They have to be permanent indoor cats for the rest of their lives.That entails greater responsibilities for the cat owner (caretaker is a better word, I think). Here is a story about how two dogs played tug-o-war with a declawed cat. And here are two more stories: Declaw Cats (please scroll down when you get to the page)

There are many potential and actual complications of declawing and many myths and truths. Please click on the two last links. One is the onset of arthritis. Here is an individual example - a semi-domesticated CANADIAN LYNX gets a haircut!

There are also many easy alternatives to declawing so it is not necessary to put a cat through it.

A good scratching post and the right expectations about cat behavior from us will take us 99% of the way to avoiding declawing our cat. Please see this example Free Cat Scratching Post and this advice: Will my cat use a scratching post?

So what reason do the vets give for cat declawing? Answer: It saves lives. They argue time and time again in defence of an operation that is banned in over 30 western countries that the operation saves lives. A new country is about to join them: Banning Declawing in Israel.

They argue that if the cat is not declawed the owner will abandon the cat. This is emotional blackmail isn't it? And it simply misses the real point. That cat owners who need to declaw their cat before acquiring it should not really adopt a cat at all. Or as mentioned they should explore alternatives. The vets also like to muddy the water by introducing distorted so called "facts" about the consequences of cat declawing. Their purpose is to reassure the cat owner. Please be aware of this. And please note that laser declawing is not what it is made out to be by the vets. Vets like to fudge the reality and they even deceive themselves.

Vid above: Vet presenting the usual reassuring blurb to adoring customer! There are actually some vets who never declaw. There are not that many but I have listed them and mapped their location on this page: North American Veterinarians Who Never Declaw - please use them if you can.

People who declaw shamelessly declare that their sofa is more important than the cat and it has to be declawed to protect the sofa. At least that is honest. The vets, I regret to say aren't when in comes to cat declawing.

I don't think a piece of furniture is more important than a living creature. If a person thinks that they can't be the ideal cat caretaker can they?

See over 150 visitor articles on declawing cats.

Michael Avatar

From Cat Declawing to Home Page


  1. A very informative article about the cruelty of declawing, thank you Michael.
    There is never justification to declaw any cat or kitten for convenience sake.
    The simple truth is that cats are born with claws because they need claws to stay healthy.
    A declawed cat is a disabled cat and any person who thinks declawing is acceptable is not a fit person to have a cat.

  2. Excellent! Another point to the vets claiming they mutilate cats to keep them in their homes is that it is just an assumption on their part and not the truth, most often the vets haven't even had a conversation first with the caretaker. The caretaker calls the vet clinic and the receptionist schedules the surgery w/o knowing what it is. To the vet, that justifies slicing up the cat because the caretaker will kill the cat otherwise. Really? If vets were honest & tracked how many of their declawed patients end up abandoned, killed, and relinquished AFTER surgery they would immediately see the real truth, that de-clawing does not save lives, but that would cost them money, and that is what they care most about.

    There is an interesting blurb about this in Dr. Jean's "Declawing and Science" article:
    "While veterinarians have opined that up to 75% of people who request declawing would get rid of their cat if surgery couldn’t be done (thus providing the rationale that declawing somehow “saves” cats), a survey of their own clients found that only 4% would euthanize or relinquish if declawing weren’t an option. (It is a well-known tendency among veterinarians to vastly underestimate both the resources and the compassion of their clients. They don’t know, because they don’t ask.)
    *In a survey of Canadian veterinarians, only 102 were willing to venture a guess as to how many of their clients would have given up their cats if not for declawing (their estimate was 57%). This brief (1-1/2 page) article has become the foundation for claims that declawing “saves” cats’ homes or lives. The entire argument rests on this flimsy excuse that was proved completely false by the next study by the same author. (Landsberg GM. Declawing is controversial but saves pets. A veterinarian survey. Vet Forum 1991;8:66-67.)
    *A survey of 276 clients (of those same veterinarians who guessed that 57% of their clients would have gotten rid of their cats) found that a whopping 4% would have seriously considered doing so. Because this study was published in a journal that few vets even know exists, it has remained obscure, and most vets who favor declawing use only the flawed and 99%-wrong figures. (Landsberg GM. Cat owners’ attitudes toward declawing. Anthrozoos 1991;4:192-197.)"

  3. Thank you for the comments. Comments help to promote the page in a Google search and so promotes the truth about declawing.

    I chose to write this on this blogger site because Google likes it!

    The pages are being ranked high. And I would like to exploit that in the name and in the interests of the cat!

  4. Great article covering a lot of good points. I especially like the link to where to obtain a free, quality scratching post! It's important for people to understand how to put the humane alternatives to declawing to work for them, and so many people have no idea what makes a good scratching post that cats will actually use. I also noticed in the photo of the severed claws and toe bones that one of the digits even has part of the paw pad still attached, which will cause that poor cat even more trouble in his or her recovery. The paw pad is not supposed to be cut into during the procedure, but it is not at all uncommon. This is a good example of what happens when the vet is in a hurry, which is not at all uncommon, either.

  5. Thanks for the comment, Kathleen. I did this post on a blogger site to see if it would be more visible in a Google search.

  6. Thanks for the useful information. I am against it. I think all decent people should be the same.

  7. Declawing cats should be banned or better still the vets should just stop doing it voluntarily - fat chance!


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