Declawing Cats. The Facts

Declawing cats is offered by some vets as a solution to scratching. However, there are a lot of associated negative effects which I firmly believe far outweigh the benefits.

It's much better to let your cat keep her claws and train her not to scratch the furniture. For advice on preventing cat scratching, click here.

You may have already had your cat declawed, not realizing all the implications at the time. If you are in this situation, I'm definitely not trying to lecture you or make you feel guilty. I'm just hoping that once you know the facts, you'll decide against having any future cats you own declawed.

To understand why declawing cats isn't a good idea, you firstly need to understand the functions of Kitty's claws.

Why Do Cats Have Claws?

climbing ginger kitten

Kitty's claws are important to her for several reasons:

1) Climbing

Cats love climbing. It's a natural, instinctive thing for them to do. It also helps them to escape danger. Without her claws, Kitty can't climb, so she becomes more vulnerable to predators and she loses one of her major fun pastimes.

2) Balance

Cats are among the most graceful and agile creatures on the planet. Their ability to do this depends on several factors, a major one of which is their claws. Declawing cats reduces their balancing skills, agility and ability to escape danger.

3) Grooming

Kitty uses her claws as part of her grooming routine. She uses them on areas of her body that she can't reach with her mouth. Claws are used to remove dead skin, hair and other potential skin irritations. If she loses the ability to do this, she may become more prone to skin disorders, and won't be able to keep herself as clean.

4) Self-defense

Kitty's claws are her primary self-defense tool. Without them, she's much less able to defend herself effectively.

5) Playing

Kitty uses her claws during play. Removing them reduces the amount of pleasure she gets when she's playing.

What Does Declawing Cats Involve?

Declawing is the complete removal of the cat's front claws. However, cats' claws are very closely attached to the toe bones. So removing the cat's claws also involves removing the toe bone that the claw is attached to.

Effects Of Declawing Cats

In addition to the cat's reduced ability to climb, balance, defend and groom itself, other negative effects of declawing include:

1) Pain

Unfortunately, cats can't tell us how much pain they're in. But I'd bet my last dollar that a cat that's having to walk on feet that have just been subjected to a claw and partial toe amputation is in pain. Does the pain lessen over time? Yes, probably. Does it ever go away completely? No-one knows.

2) Increased biting

Some declawed cats feel a lot more vulnerable, because they've lost their major self-defense mechanism. To compensate for this, they may start biting instead. Some declawed cats will bite for virtually no reason, because they are over-compensating for the loss of their claws.

3) Frustration and stress

Declawed cats may become frustrated and stressed because they've lost some of their key natural abilities. This can manifest as physical disorders such as skin conditions, infections and even heart problems.

4) Increased vulnerability

A declawed cat that goes outside is at risk, because it can't defend itself very well and can't climb to escape danger. In addition, if a declawed cat escapes from a house by mistake and ends up straying, it can't catch food and is therefore at a high risk of starvation.

Mother Nature gave Kitty her claws for good reasons. I strongly believe that declawing cats is the wrong solution to cat scratching. The best solution is training Kitty to scratch appropriately. You can also reduce damage to furniture by regularly clipping her claws. Click here for advice on the correct way to clip cat claws.

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