Declawing: Is It Cruel?

You may find yourself thinking, “Is it cruel to declaw a cat,” whenever your pet digs its claw into your sofa. However, this is a horrible idea because it is incredibly cruel.

In fact, declawing is an inhumane procedure with rarely, if any, medical importance. It’s painful and completely unnecessary.

Many cat owners see declawing as an easy fix to scratching. Not only is this false, but it leads to a whole bunch of other problems. There are several other ways to stop your cat from scratching your furniture, like getting a scratch post.

Moreover, declawing makes a cat more likely to bite and become hostile since you’ve taken away its only way to defend itself. It’s also likely to feel unsafe and stop using the litter box. All in all, the procedure is terrible for your cat and will make your life uncomfortable.

What is Declawing?

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Let’s go over what declawing really is. Because when people propose it as a routine procedure, they either oversimplify it or don’t have all the facts.

Declawing is the amputation of the last bone of each toe.

Imagine chopping off all your fingers up till the first knuckle because your nails hurt someone. It sounds excessive and like you’re overcompensating because that is exactly what you’re doing. The same applies if you choose to declaw your cat.

The Procedure

The standard way to declaw is with clippers or a scalpel. The wounds are closed with surgical glue or stitches. Then the feet are bandaged.

A less common way is using laser surgery. A small but intense beam of light cuts through the tissue by vaporizing it. This form of amputation carries the same risks of behavioral problems and lameness as declawing with a scalpel does.

Consequences of Declawing

Post-Surgery Pain

A cat’s feet are bandaged after the declawing procedure. Even though they’re put under anesthesia for the surgery, it is incredibly painful for them once the medication wears off.

Since cats use their paws to walk, any sort of movement will hurt. In such a case, your cat may choose to endure the pain and open its incisions or lay around and become depressed.

Both are bad end case scenarios and must be avoided.

Litter Box Issues

Regular litter types have very small particles that can enter a cat’s toe incisions. This can lead to irritation and infection, which is why cats avoid their litter boxes after declawing.

Simply going into the box and pawing around is painful. So cats start urinating inappropriately to make it more comfortable, eventually stopping going to the litter box at all.


You can try to avoid these problems by using another litter type like paper. However, that isn’t a good idea because your cat probably isn’t familiar with that substrate. So even if you do that, your pet may begin urinating outside the box.

Prone to Injuries

Cats are digitigrade walkers. This means they balance on their toes instead of their feet like we do. So when you declaw a cat, you’re taking away its ability to walk. They have to relearn how to walk, and that process takes time, especially when they’re in a lot of pain after the surgery.

Your cat is likely to fall here and there, get injured, and cost you hefty vet fees.

Prone to Violence

Your cat is also likely to become more violent after declawing. Claws are a cat’s biggest defense mechanism. When you take them away, the cat will feel insecure and unsafe. Consequently, they’re likely to start biting everyone around them to regain that sense of protection.

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Moreover, if you take away your cat’s claws, it will have to defend itself against stray cats if it ever goes outside. Cats living on the streets are used to fighting – it is survival of the fittest. Your indoor cat – someone who has always been handed things – will not be able to survive in that rough environment.

Alternatives to Declawing

One of the biggest reasons declawing is a cruel procedure is that it’s unnecessary. There are several other ways to protect your furniture from scratching damage.

1.  Nail Trims

Cut your cat’s nails regularly, and they won’t be sharp enough to tear through furniture.

2.  Nail Caps

Vinyl nail caps are available at pet stores and are excellent tools because they can protect your furniture from damage. A cat’s nails are only dangerous because they’re sharp. A cap covers the sharp part with a blunt vinyl product.

3.  Scratching Posts

Cats scratch to mark their territory, stretch their muscles, and relieve stress. None of this has anything to do with your furniture specifically. It just happens to meet this criterion.

Your cat can do the same things with a scratching post. You just need to get one and train your cat to use it.

Final Word

Declawing is a risk-filled procedure with countless complications even after the surgery is over. There are only some very rare cases where a cat’s claws are affected by a medical condition and need to be removed.

Anything other than that is cruel and inhumane.

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