Is it cruel to declaw a cat?

  • Date: June 22, 2021
  • Time to read: 5 min.

The debate over whether or not it is cruel to declaw a cat is one that has been ongoing for decades. It is an issue that stirs up strong emotions in both cat owners and animal rights activists. The practice of declawing cats is often seen as a cruel and inhumane procedure, as it involves the amputation of the third phalanx bone in a cat’s paw. Proponents of declawing argue that it is a necessary procedure to protect furniture and preserve the health of both cats and their owners. Regardless of which side of the debate one falls on, it is important to understand all aspects of the issue before making a decision. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of declawing cats and the potential risks that come with the procedure.

The Debate Over Declawing Cats

Declawing cats is a controversial topic that has been debated for years. The procedure, which involves amputating the last joint of a cat’s toes, has been banned in many countries, while some animal lovers argue it is a necessary practice. Although it is sometimes seen as a necessary step to protect a cat’s owner from scratches and bites, animal experts and veterinarians suggest there are other ways to prevent cats from scratching and biting that do not involve declawing.

What is Declawing?

Declawing is the surgical procedure of removing the last joint of each toe on a cat’s front paws. This procedure is also known as an onychectomy and is typically done on cats under general anesthesia. Declawing a cat can be done for medical reasons, such as a tumor on the paw or an abscess. However, it is more commonly done for behavioral reasons, such as to prevent cats from scratching furniture or people.

Pros and Cons of Declawing

Proponents of declawing cats argue that it is a safe and necessary procedure for protecting cats and their owners from scratches and bites. This is especially true for owners with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or AIDS, who are at a greater risk of infection if scratched or bitten by a cat. Additionally, declawing can prevent cats from scratching furniture and carpets, which can be expensive to repair or replace.

On the other hand, opponents of declawing argue that the procedure is cruel and inhumane. They point out that declawing a cat is the equivalent of cutting off a person’s fingers up to the first knuckle. Additionally, some veterinarians argue that the procedure can cause long-term complications, such as chronic pain and lameness.

Alternatives to Declawing

Many experts suggest that there are alternatives to declawing cats. For example, owners can trim their cats’ nails regularly and provide scratching posts so cats can scratch without damaging furniture or carpets. Additionally, owners can provide soft paw covers or booties to protect their skin from scratches.

Another option is to use a product such as Soft Paws, which are vinyl nail caps that can be applied to a cat’s nails. These products are designed to reduce the risk of scratches and bites without the need for declawing. Additionally, these products are relatively inexpensive and easy to apply.

Finally, owners can also use aversive techniques, such as spraying cats with water or making loud noises, to discourage scratching and biting. These methods are generally seen as the least intrusive and can be effective in preventing cats from damaging furniture and people.

Ultimately, the decision to declaw a cat should be made on a case-by-case basis. Owners should weigh the pros and cons of the procedure and explore all available alternatives before making a decision. If a cat must be declawed, it is important to ensure the procedure is performed by a qualified and experienced veterinarian.

## Common Myths About Declawing Cats

1. Declawing a cat is the same as cutting off its toes – Declawing a cat is actually done by removing the last joint of the cat’s toes. The cat’s toes remain intact and no part of the toe is removed.

2. Declawed cats are in pain – Declawing can be painful for cats, but there are ways to minimize pain by using anesthetic and pain medications before, during, and after the procedure. Proper aftercare can also help reduce pain and ensure a quick recovery.

3. Declawing a cat is cruel – Declawing is not cruel if it is done for the right reasons, such as for medical necessity or when the cat’s behavior is causing a threat to humans or other animals.

4. Declawing is a quick and easy procedure – Declawing is a surgical procedure that should only be done by experienced veterinarians. It can be a long and complicated procedure and can take multiple visits to complete.

5. Declawed cats cannot use a litter box – Declawed cats can easily use a litter box if it is properly maintained and the litter is not too abrasive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cruel to declaw a cat?

Yes, it is cruel to declaw a cat. Declawing a cat involves the surgical removal of a cat’s claws and the last bone on each toe. This is an extremely painful procedure and can cause lifelong physical and emotional problems for the cat.

What are the alternatives to declawing a cat?

The best alternative to declawing a cat is to provide them with an appropriate scratching post and/or trim their claws regularly. Providing cats with a scratching post encourages them to use it rather than furniture and other objects in the home. Trimming their claws regularly is also an effective way to prevent scratched furniture and carpets. Additionally, you can use soft plastic caps that cover the cat’s nails and provide them with toys and other activities to keep them occupied.


Declawing cats has long been a controversial topic, with some arguing it is a necessary practice and others insisting it is cruel and inhumane. Alternatives to declawing such as trimming nails, providing scratching posts, using soft paw covers or booties, and applying vinyl nail caps can help protect furniture and people from scratches and bites. Owners should carefully weigh the pros and cons of declawing and explore all available alternatives before making a decision. If a cat must be declawed, it is important to ensure the procedure is done by a qualified and experienced veterinarian.

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