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To cats, clawing is a natural, healthy, and important behavior. Cats claw to exercise and enjoy themselves, to maintain the condition of their nails, to stretch their muscles, and to mark their territory—both visually and with scent.

Declawing is not like a manicure. It’s a serious surgery that involves 10 individual amputations—not just of the cats’ nails but of the last digit of each toe as well.

Cats often experience extreme pain when they awaken from the surgery and often have difficulty walking. Declawing results in a gradual weakening of leg, shoulder, and back muscles. Because of impaired balance caused by the procedure, declawed cats have to relearn how to walk, much as a person would after losing his or her toes. After the surgery, the nails can grow back inside the paw, causing extreme pain unbeknownst to the cat’s guardian.

Without claws, even house-trained cats might start to urinate and defecate outside the litterbox in an attempt to mark their territory. Declawed cats might become morose, reclusive, withdrawn, irritable, aggressive, and unpredictable. Many people think that declawed cats are safer around babies, but, in fact, the lack of claws (a cat’s first line of defense) makes many cats feel so insecure that they tend to bite more often as a means of self-protection.

Nearly two dozen countries—including England, Australia, and Japan—have prohibited or severely restricted veterinarians from performing the painful, permanently crippling, and mutilating procedure.

Many compassionate veterinarians refuse to declaw cats, even in areas where the procedure is legal, because declawing is cruel and of no benefit to cats—and it violates veterinarians’ oath to “do no harm.”

With a little bit of patience and effort, it’s easy to keep cats from shredding couches and curtains—without resorting to cruel declawing surgery.

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  • Sam Scriver says:

    I unfortunately declawed my last cat. He started as an indoor cat but soon insisted he wanted to be outdoors. He readily adapted to climbing trees with only his rear claws and lived a very happy nineteen years with no problems. My present two cats, not declawed have destroyed furniture, door trim and drawers. I am trying to use a product called Soft Paws which cover the nails temporarily but require repeated applications. And yes my furniture is taking a besting but I love them too much to declawed. I will never do that again after reading this article.

  • Gaz says:

    What is all this? I’m very angry at Stephanie.

  • Stephanie says:

    I’m a Canadian who’s moved to England. I’m completely shocked that over here declawing is viewed as something so despicable and inhumane, when in North America it is common practice. I find it very, very hard to believe that veterinarians can have such divergent opinions, especially as it isn’t like North America is such a god-awful, cruel, animal-hating place – is it?
    I grew up with seven differetn cats (4 still alive) and every single one had its front paws declawed, usually by the vet practice my mom worked for. Every single one of our darlings was alright: no personality changes, no walking problems, no pain a bit of anaesthetic couldn’t help for a couple days, no problems playing or climbing. Now, granted, they have all been indoor pets, but that has been more an issue of how much traffic our neighbourhood gets and how many skunks/raccoons there are to fight with.
    We adore our pets and would never do anything to deliberately harm them. No one has once raised the issue, and I find it so bizarre that the UK feels so strongly about this. I just don’t get it!

  • Virginia says:

    We declawed our cat when I was 4 years old, and we only took off his front claws. I feel so bad now that I know about this, and with the next cat I have (which most likely will be when I’m living on my own, I’m 17 now) I won’t declaw him/her and I’ll make sure that he/she will live a happy and healthy life. My current cat is healthy (for a 12 year old cat!) but I wish that we could help him be even healthier.

  • Vlora says:

    Always a good job right here. Keep rloilng on through.

  • Barbara Mieirs says:

    My mother got a kitten after my father passed away for some companionship. She had the kittten declawed after about 5 or 6 months. My mother put more value on some old furniture than on how much pain and truble the cat would endure. With a little effort she could have provided alternative places for the cat to excercise its clawing needs. As an adult I have always had cats. I have three now. I just provide the scratching Mats and posts with carpet on them. My cats don’t “claw” the furniture.