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8 Reasons Why You Should Never Declaw Your Cats

The following article originally appeared on

Many people falsely assume that declawing is just like trimming your nails or getting a manicure. In reality, it is a painful and permanently crippling procedure. The following are eight reasons why you should never declaw your feline friend:


Cats scratch to exercise and enjoy themselves, maintain the condition of their nails, and stretch their muscles.

While we hope that your cat remains safely indoors at all times, if he or she were ever to get outside without claws, your cat would be far more vulnerable to predators and abusers.

Many people think that declawed cats are safer around babies, but in fact, the lack of claws makes many cats feel so insecure that they tend to bite more often as a means of self-protection.

Cats are in pain when they awake from the surgery, and the pain continues afterward. Nails can grow back inside the paw, causing extreme pain that you can’t see.

Without claws, even house-trained cats might start “doing their business” outside the litterbox in an attempt to mark their territory.

Our toes are crucial to our balance, and it’s no different for cats! Because of impaired balance after the procedure, declawed cats have to relearn how to walk, much as a person would after losing his or her toes.

Nearly two dozen countries—including Australia, England, and Japan—ban or severely restrict declawing surgeries. And many veterinarians in the United States refuse to perform the procedure.

What You Can Do Instead

  • Trim your cat’s nails regularly. When the cat is relaxed and unafraid, gently press on his or her toes until the claws extend. Use a pair of nail clippers, and cut only the tip of the nail, taking care not to damage the vein, or “quick.” The nail hook is what tears upholstery, so removing it virtually eliminates the potential for damage.
  • Buy multiple scratching posts. Ideally, you should have two or more scratching posts in your home. Make sure that they’re sturdy and tall enough to allow your cat to stretch (3 feet or taller). Soft, fluffy carpeted posts won’t fulfill your cat’s clawing needs, so look for rougher posts.
  • Teach your cat where to scratch and where not to scratch. Encourage your cat to use the scratching posts by sprinkling catnip on the posts once a week. Discourage your cat from scratching furniture by using a loud, firm voice whenever he or she starts to scratch—cats don’t like loud noises! Never use physical force. Instead, you might try using a squirt gun full of lukewarm water directed at your cat’s back.
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  • Chee Siew Im says:

    Treat every creature of God with respect They were beautifully made and put on earth for us to love and cherish

  • Saman says:

    Your child’s might try to bite you his or her teeth’s would you remove their teeth’s too ?? I’m completely disagree with such cruelty with animals These animals would live for their own we cannot change their nature or their body’s because we like to have them !

  • Sherrill says:

    We have a male cat who is declawed and fixed…He never goes outside his litter box, he still does the scratching motion and stretches out long when he does it…He runs around here like a kitten up and down the stairs and pounces on the dog to try and get her to play with him. He never goes outside, and he can catch a mouse in the house lickety split. I am not against declawing a cat as it is done under anesthesia and as for the pain, they have some pain afterwards while they are healing up, but they are also in pain after being fixed, so with all the homeless cats that keep on breeding and having more homeless cats..please get your cat spayed or neutered and keep inside. One cat will kill four song birds a day and have actually made some song birds extinct.

  • ChelaGJ says:

    I have a rescued cat, he is old, almost completely deaf, can’t see very well either, has severe arthritis and he is declawed. Someone put him in a zipped gym bag and threw him by the Henry Hudson Parkway here in New York City. He acts completely different than any of my other cats, he is fearful, because of his arthritis he can’t really jump very high and because he lacks his front claws he can’t grab onto things. It’s very very sad but I turned an Ikea dresser into his condominium right by my bed head (removed all drawers and put a nice high pillow). This way he can jump comfortably from there to my bed where he likes to hang out, but he is still a very fearful kitty, can’t defend himself, and he is most of the time on edge (because of the other cats). Please don’t ever declaw a cat. It is just not fair.

  • Daff says:

    I’m not a PETA nut job but I agree it’s not fair on the kitty’s just give them a spray of water if they start scatting your sofa

  • monkyingaround says:

    For anyone who has very bad problems with cats clawing things and can’t get them to stop, look up ‘soft paws.’ They’re vinyl claw caps that you glue onto your kitty’s claws, and they fall off after a few months when their claws grow longer, so it’s not permanent. My friend bought these for her cat as an alternative to declawing, and they work well.

  • Lexi Peri says:

    Declawing is barbaric!

  • Dedontra says:

    Im certainly not the DIE HARD PETA person many on here are… BUT I happened to stumble on the declawing of cats. I have never known the exact procedure and just assumed they carefully removed the claws. Thankfully, I have ALWAYS been against declawing but from an animal loving nerd perspective.
    If I were like wolverine and had awesome retracting claws and someone took them from me… I would hate their every breath forever 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful information on your site PETA

  • adelaide says:

    I can’t believe people do this! I have 8 cats,a scratched couch and I’m OK with that! People don’t do this in Brazil, at least not the ones I know.

  • JamesIGN says:

    I am against declawing, but i noticed in the article seams to speak out against letting your cat go outside. Can someone explain to me why keeping your cat locked up inside is better then letting it outside? I live in a suburban neighborhood, and all the cats in the neighborhood seem to commune outside in front of my house everyday, happy.

    Tiger, my eldest of cats is a big boi, (Going on a diet), and he is the leader of their little pride, and the head of the pecking order. (We have 3 cats) The second eldest, “Kitten” (Award for originality), is the second in command. And last but not least, little old mitzee (Mit-c) is the youngest. They all love each other and hang outside pretty much half the day. The only bad behavior i have noticed that has developed is that Tiger, and Kitten only let female cats around the house, they scare other males away. We have this adorable black stray that hangs around them. Tiger is like a little sugar daddy lol.

    I see no harm in letting them be outside. My cats love it.

  • Gi says:

    Okay so now that I’ve seen this article I think that maybe we shouldn’t declaw cats, but I must say, our family cat fluffy was declawed ages ago and never became mean or angry and never showed signs of pain beyond a few days after the surgery, and he’s still alive today and is an outside cat and can protect himself, and he loves to play and such, never makes a mess outside his litterbox, and he gets along wonderful with our lab, they even groom each other sometimes!! Yes I will say declawing looks horrible now that I see the facts, but I’m also just stating the truth about my own declawed cat.

  • lisa says:

    If you dont want your furniture clawed or get scratched dont have a cat simple as like another poster has said its banned in uk thank god one less painfull experience an animal has to go
    through have rescued cats one which was a feral when they kneed you they showing you they happy and love you one of my cats has just been diagnosed with
    bone marrow cancer dont know how long she got left but when she wants a cuddle and kneeds best feeling ever enjoy your pets let them be animals cos you dont know whats round the corner

  • Mia says:

    Please stop drug testing on cats at the Drug Giant Co.s.
    “Just Say No!” Cats don’t do drugs. Please help. SOS! Catlovers come quickly. thanks

  • Mia says:

    Kudos for this article! Thank you. I think it is harder, for cats to dig in the litter box , as they are very clean and cover, having been declawed. Also they can have bone protrusions through the skin, as they grow older. Also it’s more painful for them to jump up high, it’s slippery.

  • Kat says:

    I love my cat to pieces and abhor the thought of inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal but I must admit, though I am ashamed to do so, that I have contemplated doing this to my cat but not for the selfish reasons you might think. My boy has severe allergies and I have spent THOUSANDS of dollars on trying to make him healthy and live a stable, happy life but despite my best efforts and heart break that I have put into trying to make him healthy and sending him away for months on end when he has scratched himself to the point that he literally looked like zombie cat, he hasn’t shown any serious improvement and trimming his nails did very little to save his skin. I thought about declawing him when I saw him in so much pain from his allergies to save him from himself because I was at my wits end on how to help him. Fortunately I didn’t and found a vet who could finally help him to feep normal again but out of despiration I almost went that extreme route to keep him from scratching himself to that point again.

  • CatLover says:

    I had always declawed my cats. I never had heard anything about it being bad for them. They never went ‘outside’ the box and were very well behaved cats. But just before I bought my last cat I heard about what declawing really does and I feel bad. I did not declaw my cat who is almost two. Sure he’s ripped up a few carpets and caused some issues but he’s learning and rarely uses his claws playing with me. He treats me like I’m a cat not using my claws on him. It’s very sweet. He does have cat scratchers and uses them daily. I trim his front nails once in a great while. I won’t declaw any other cats needless to say!!! He is much more aggressive than my kitty without claws and not as huggable (not a lap cat & can’t pick him up) but he’s getting better as he’s getting older.

  • Karyn says:

    I live in UK where thank God de-clawing is banned. I wish everywhere would ban this horrific practise and cannot understand how supposed ‘animal lovers’ can subject their pets to such procedures.

  • jolanta says:


  • Helga Bayer says:

    stop for once all the cruelty towards animals!

  • tina minster says:

    to many people think oh…I had my cat declawed and it became mean….it is not mean..the cat is is in pain. my cat cant even use the litter bax….because the cat is in pain.all because the cat scratched a are some alternatives. buy a couple scratch pads…put a little ..little cat nip on it…that’s a simple salution.I don’t want to sound rude…but casts are not to be brought into a home unless the family will love it…if a cat is left in pain for the rest of its life…..why have one.its better to get a gold fish.

  • Ann says:

    What can we do to make de-clawing against the law. This is animal cruelty. It needs to be stopped.

  • Izzy says:

    My husband’s prissy aunt got one of her cats declawed once because she was tired of the cat scratching her furniture…even though she didn’t have a single scratching post for it. *rolls eyes* After she was declawed, she was miserable and angry…kept attacking his aunt and other people that visited her house.

  • Jodi Shadle says:

    When I was a kid, my folks had my cat declawed and my dad was appalled at his pain and debility when we got him back from the vet. He swore he’d never do it again. Then when I was 18 and newly married, I rescued a cat who had had all four of her paws declawed. She was deaf, so the one time she got out, I was a wreck until I found her (the same day). When I worked at a vet later (who used many alternative treatments), he refused to declaw, giving up income in the name of compassion.

  • Cath says:

    De-clawing a cat is just animal cruelty. But if you have an older inside cat then keep an eye on the length of their claws. They may need clipping occasionally as its sometimes possible for the claw to grow all the way around and dig into the paw which is extremely painful for them. Owners don’t notice until their cat starts limping.

  • LMY says:

    @ littlepigeon. Did you seriously just recommend buying a leather couch on a PETA article?

  • Jennie says:

    Declawing is a horrible, painful, debilatating procedure.

    I was horrified when one of my good friends decided that she “needed” to have her 2 very loving, affectionate cats declawed. She loves her cats, and calls them her boys, and claims she’s supports animal rights and causes. She just bought a new couch for her new place and her cats were scratching the couch instead of their scratching posts. Then she wondered why it was difficult to find a vetrinarian that would perform this awful procedure. I tried explaining to her that its a painful procedure, which will hurt hers cats even if they have the pain meds and many animal rights groups are opposed to this procedure as well as many animal hospitals. She got nasty with me when I told her it will hurt her cats, she as much said to me, well are you going to buy me a new couch when they scratch this one up?

    Honestly do people punish their human children for ruining the family furniture, I would certainly hope not! My toddler son spills and wipes all sorts of grime on the couch all the time. What will she ever do if she has human children? I’m still mad at her for this, she declawed her cats almost 3 years ago. I only wish I had more information from PETA to provide to her at that time on how truely cruel she was to the cats she calls her boys, her babies.

  • kimmarie says:

    i was against declawing before i thought it cruel now that i know they just dont pull the nail out omg ahhh poor babies! We inherited my cousins cat when she passed away from cancer i couldn’t just let her go to the pound i hate to hear of any animal there when we got her found out she has her back claws but not the front i wanted to cry for her.

  • Carole says:

    Recently our declawed cat (though no doings of mine) pushed out a screen window and was gone for 4 days. We live in the woods plus our neighbors have 4 dogs. I ate out plenty of stomach lining until his safe return. I hate declawing!!!

  • Christine Schulte says:

    Thanks for passing on this information. I had only recently heard of such procedures being done in some places and I was totally shocked. It’s like Alex writes: If we want to live with animals, we should accept them the way they are and not try to fashion them to our liking, especially not with such barbaric means. We have 3 cats, and we don’t even clip our cats’ claws – they take care of themselves best. (Though I’m aware that this may be necessary in some cases.) None of our cats has ever scratched or bitten anyone – they know that they are loved and respected.

  • Sherrie says:

    We would never declaw our cat. I feel it should be outlawed in all states. We provide scratch posts, carpet for the kitty to use for his nails and reward him with a little treat when he uses his scratch post. I place a quilt on my couches so he can use those if he wants rather than the couch cushions. Cats are smart and require smart and creative owners. Please ban declawing. It’s not right to inflict suffering on an animal.

  • Kim says:

    When i adopted my cat at the shelter she was already de-clawed in the front. I personally would never have a cat declawed though. My cat still tries to claw things… but no claws.

  • chander kumar soni says:

    i love cats.
    i am against de-clawing.

  • Lynn says:

    I have never owned a declawed cat and both myself and my family don’t like the idea. I did NOT know the details of how it’s done or it’s effects though. Thanks for sharing that.

  • Linda Szymoniak says:

    The only one of our three cats that has been declawed is Koneko, and he already had his front claws removed before we found him as a stray in our yard. Both of our other cats, Yumeko and Moko, have all their claws and I gently trim the sharp tips with a baby nail cutter when they need it. You don’t want to cut the nails too short because of the quick, but after I trim the tips, I have noticed that my cats are less likely to scratch on anything, including their scratching posts. My rescue will never declaw a cat, and it’s in our adoption contract that declawing, along with “cosmetic” surgeries, like ear and tail docking, and devocalization are NOT permitted.

  • littlepigeon says:

    Another thing you can do to avoid ruined furniture is to buy a couch with material that isn’t textured so the cat doesn’t wanna claw it. I solved this problem buy purchasing a leather couch and it still looks as beautiful as the day I got it with 7 cats. They like to claw fabrics with texture, so leather or vinyl should prevent it. I also have a scratch post, cheap throw rugs, and a cheap used couch in the family room, which they are allowed to scratch all they want.

  • Alexandra says:

    I’ve worked at over 5 Animal hospitals and all the doctors refuse to do this surgery. Thank God! One doctor even asked to keep the cat instead of having the owners declaw him (due to their new couches- JERKS!) and he did. Thats how bad the surgery is in his eyes.

  • Abby says:

    you could also use SoftPaws. it’s like putting fake rubber nails on. I’ve used them for a wile and my cat hasn’t acted an different. They will fall off naturally too so you don’t need to take them off and possibly risk hurting them.

  • Alex says:

    I’m so happy that in my country it’s unpopular procedure, people don’t know about it. But this procedure, however rare, is gross and barbaric. If we breed animals and keep them around, we should respect they nature! Dogs have tails. And they bark. Cows have horns, and cats have claws. If we use animals, or keep them as pets, we should deal with them as they are, even if it’s unpleasent, even if it is dangerous, I don’t care. We don’t need to keep animals, so every trouble coming from it is our problem.

  • Ravneet Kaur says:

    Please stop this….

  • April1too says:

    PLease get a vet to clip their claws. The nerve is very close to the tip of the claw.

  • Janet says:

    Until reading this, I had never even heard of declawing cats, let alone considered having the procedure done on my cats. It is cruel and a barbaric form of torture for a gentle little animal. Please ban it now.

  • Antonia Läubl says:

    Den Katzen die Krallen weg operieren ist gegen die Natur.

  • KatF says:

    You have all your fingers, let kitty keep all of his too. yaaay!

  • LisaLisa77 says:

    I must say I was considering having my cat de-clawed but after reading this I have chosen not to.

  • Meghan says:

    Declawed cats don’t “do their business” outside the litter box to mark their territory. It’s because their paws continue to be so sore that the litter is too painful to stand on.

  • Gwen says:

    I have never declawed my cats before (never saw any reason to) but had no idea that the claws could grow back! That would be so painful!

  • Carlos Alberto Bassi says:

    I’ve had cats for many years and never had in mind to cut their claws, same as I do not approve cutting the tails or the ears of dogs

  • Karoly says:

    Stop torturing animals

  • lola says:

    please, stop..

  • Cheryl says:

    I have nine cats that really rip up my furniture. We have scratching post but they prefer the couch, chair, etc. I am going to try clipping their nails as you suggested. Thanks so much for this information. Looking forward to hearing more from your site.