Declawing a Cat – Everything You Should Know

Declawing a Cat

When you hear the phrase ‘declawing a cat’, you really get a lot of strong opinions from pet advocates.

There are some people that choose to have their cat declawed, and it is something that is regularly done in veterinary clinics and pet surgical centers across the world. One of the biggest questions that pet owners have is whether or not they should declaw their cat.

The key is to make sure that you learn everything that you can about it before you decide if it is right for your cat. There are a lot of people that have strong opinions on both sides of the fence. Where do you stand with it? Let’s learn more so that you can make an educated decision when it comes to your feline friend.

Here’s what Dr. Courtney Campbell DVM has to say about the process:

Why Do Some Cat Owners Choose to Declaw?

First, we are going to take a look at some of the reasons why cat owners choose to declaw their cats. One of the main reasons that we get from cat owners that have opted for the procedure is that it keeps them from scratching up furniture and people. Not sure if you have ever had a cat scratch, but if you love cats it is safe to say that you probably have dealt with a few of them in your lifetime. They can be painful, and they can lead to infection, and many people declaw their cats just to avoid these issues.

Then, think about how much furniture your cat is likely to tear up by scratching, and the costs can make it seems like declawing is the all around best option. Did you know that declawing cats is really something that is only practiced in America? It is more of a convenience factor than anything else, and in certain European countries it is even illegal.

Why Are Some People Against It?

Now that we know why some people choose to go with declawing their cat, let’s take a look at why people are against it. It seems there are a lot more people out there that actively speak out against having their cats declawed. First of all, you have to think about the facts- declawing your cat is not natural. It is typically something that is only done to benefit the humans, not the cats. Most people feel that cats are born with their claws and that they should stay.

Other reasons why people are so against declawing:

  • it is considered inhumane
  • it can be painful and uncomfortable
  • there can be complications
  • they lack defense tools if they get outside
  • it can be traumatic
  • it isn’t an easy procedure

As you can see, it definitely seems like the reasons why people are against it far outweigh the reasons why people are for it. This is something to consider when you are making your decision about whether or not it is something that is right for your cat.

About the Process of Declawing a Cat

There are several different ways to go about declawing a cat, but what they actually do to your cat may come as a surprise to you. To get rid of a cat’s claw and keep it from growing back, you can’t just take off the claw. You have to have the small piece of bone removed that is attached to the claw. If you don’t then the claws will continue to come back. When cats are declawed, typically there is a machine that basically works like a small guillotine and cuts through the joint.

If you consider what it would be like for a human, it would be like having your finger cut off right at the first joint closest to the tip of your finger.

The Process of declawing a cat
Image: Wikipedia (Turn685)

Click here to learn more about the process of declawing.

Does Declawing Hurt?

One of the biggest concerns that cat owners have when it comes to having their cat declawed is whether or not it is going to hurt them.

Truthfully, the procedure will be done under anesthesia, so it won’t actually hurt while they are having it done. The problem is that once the anesthesia wears off they will likely experience a great deal of pain. It is a major surgery for them, and that is something that not everyone understands about it. If you were to have all of the tips of your fingers cut off, then you would probably feel some pain and discomfort afterwards.

Now, your veterinary clinic should prescribe something to help them with the pain, but the problem is that they will have a hard time walking comfortably for a few weeks after the procedure. They may even have a hard time walking, because walking will be very different for them. Sometimes, this discomfort never really goes away, and that is a risk that you take when you choose to declaw your cat.

The Pros

Now that we know a little bit more about the process, it is time to weigh the pros and cons. First, we will take a look at the advantages that come along with declawing your cat. These pros include:

  • it can save your furniture
  • your cat won’t pose a threat to other animals or people in your home
  • it can be beneficial for elderly people with cats

Honestly, this list of pros is looking pretty short, but let’s move on to the drawbacks.

The Cons

Sure, there are a few advantages that come along with declawing a cat, but that doesn’t mean that it is the best option. Here are the disadvantages, and you are sure to see that this list is a whole lot longer:

  • it can be painful
  • it removes one of their joints
  • it can lead to behavioral problems
  • it leaves them defenseless
  • it is irreversible
  • it costs a whole lot
  • it may affect their ability to use a litter box
  • there are other options available that are more humane

Close-up of a cat's claw

The Costs Associated with Declawing a Cat

Even if you are willing to deal with the long list of cons and have your cat declawed, you should be aware of the costs that come along with it.

You will likely pay upwards of $400 to $500 for the procedure, and this will only remove the front claws. It is not typical for them to remove both the front and back claws. So, let’s get down to brass tacks – you are going to spend a huge chunk of change to put your cat through something that is potentially torturous to them. Doesn’t make too much sense, does it?


If you have decided that having your cat declawed just isn’t the best idea for your cat, then you are not alone. It is safe to say that a majority of pet advocates are against this procedure. There are far more people against it than for it, that’s for sure!

The problem is, how do you keep your cat from scratching up people, furniture and other stuff in your house? It isn’t always easy, but there are a few alternatives:

1. Scratching Posts

First, you need to be aware of the fact that it is second nature for cats to scratch. It is just about as imperative to them as breathing. Your cat just needs to scratch. When it comes down to it, if you have a scratching post available for your cat, chances are they will steer clear of your furniture. If you have problems with it, you can use double sided tape, aluminum foil, plastic sheets, and other coverings to protect your furniture. You can also use a spray bottle to help discourage them from scratching in inappropriate places. It is best to use positive reinforcements to get them to take to their scratching post. If you can get them to take to it, then scratching won’t be an issue and you won’t have a reason to declaw.

2. Nail Caps

Another alternative is to use claw covers for your cat. There are many different brands, sizes and colors to choose from. To affix these covers to your cat’s claws, it does take a bit of effort on your part. It isn’t likely that you will be able to get them to sit still for you to put the covers on each claw, but it will be well worth it for you in the long run. They are stylish, and they last for weeks at a time.

They can be a bit pricey, at around $25 a pack, but if you think about it, you will save your cat from the pain and discomfort that comes with declawing and the covers are completely reversible. They are made of a rubber type material, and they help to prevent your cat from scratching you or your furniture.

3. Laser Declawing

If you do want to have your cat declawed, you don’t have to stick with the ‘guillotine’ method. You can opt for a less inhumane procedure known as laser declawing.

Some people may argue that there really isn’t much of a difference, but there really is. With laser declawing, you cut down on the risk of bleeding, are able to seal the nerve endings, and reduce the swelling that is accompanied with the older methods. The laser cat declawing method will usually run you anywhere between $250 and $400, depending on where you have it done.

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2 Responses

  1. I’m never going to de-claw my cat, mainly because I feel that it’s actually more dangerous. Plus I have an outdoor cat who likes to spend her time outside, and keeping her protected is much better than no protection.

    Anyways, I know why some would do it. My cat has clawed our old couch to oblivion, but it’s not bad, it’s old anyways. The couch that is.

  2. I purchased a six foot carpeted gym for my cat. She loves it and scratches on it all the time. It’s about an $80 dollar investment. Declaring is painful and much more expensive .
    Good luck everyone with your kitties but try to do whatever possible not to declaw them .

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