Declawing: When to do it and when not to do it

Written By: Alex D. – TCR Volunteer.

If your attention span is very short, I will stick the main point of this article – there is never a right time to declaw your kitty. I know most of us already know the process and the risk undertaken with such surgery procedures, but for those of us that don’t or need a refresher here are some facts.

We cannot show you any relevant declawing pics here, so we have replaced them with happy kitty shots. (Note: they are happy because nobody cut off part of their bones). Seriously though, do not Google image search “declawing”… it’s not cool and once you see the images, you cannot un-see them.

Huey doesn't want to be declawed

Feel free to share this information with any other kitty owners. Umm, make that, as a TCR helper it is your duty to share this information with kitty owners out there. Ok, now to the facts:

• It hurts – a lot. It is a painful surgical procedure with a very lengthy recovery time. Period.

• Recovery time is longer than you think; sometimes the cat never fully recovers. Unlike humans who can reason and who are pretty much at the top of the food chain (as long as that Jurassic Park thing never materializes), cats on the other hand have somewhat limited brain power. They can’t, and won’t, understand what happened to them, and why their primary method of defense has been removed. It’s like someone chopping off your arms and throwing you in the middle of the jungle.. with a lobotomy to boot. Now you will be in the same situation as a freshly declawed kitty.

• It is NOT the same process as trimming a pets nails. If you have ever given your pet a mani/pedi then you probably observed that it doesn’t bleed as long as you don’t cut too short. Click here for steps on clipping cats nails.

• A cat’s claw is not a simple nail like you have on your fingers and toes (ideally 10 on each). A cat’s claw is part of the paw’s bone structure. When the vet declaws, part of the bone has to be cut off. Now, think of the feeling if someone cut off part of your bones.

• Recovery time is exacerbated by the cat’s need to walk, stand up, and pretty much live their daily life. Cats don’t have hospital beds, wheelchairs, nor rehabilitation centers. Although some cartoon cats are the exception.

• Cats don’t have an infinite supply of pain meds, muscle relaxants, sleeping aids etc. We don’t yet have the technology to translate the different tones of ‘meow’ into “something hurts”, “something hurts over here”, “I can’t sleep”, “I have a migraine” – last one applicable only to female kitties, after their life partner goes tomcatting around the neighborhood.

Austin playing with Pierre vs. scratching your couch

All of the above translate into tremendous psychological trauma for the kitty. And for the sake of time we’ll ignore all other problems that may also occur, such as post-op infections, litter box issues, hissing. If your sofa is that much more precious to you than your companion, then make a decision and only keep one: the kitty or the sofa. Try to find someone who will adopt your cat that won’t put him through so much hardship.

So, what can I do sir vs. declawing? Searching the internet can yield numerous solutions from special scratching posts to elastic claw caps. Kitties with a play-friend or sibling are also less prone to scratching furniture. Whatever option you try, it is most important that you actually spend time with your cat. Like all training, you need to dedicate time. It doesn’t take long and only your physical presence can ensure the best results.

Learn & Share:

1. Talking to your vet is strongly recommended. They will be able to confirm all the points above.

2. More Information: Read TCR’s one pager on DECLAWING CATS. Check out, which has useful links for alternative solutions to declawing.

3. If you want a declawed companion, please adopt a cat that has already been declawed by their previous owner, see our Available Cats section.

Toronto Cat Rescue believes the practice of declawing is a form of mutilation. We DO NOT declaw ANY cat.

43 Comments on “Declawing: When to do it and when not to do it

  1. I would be inclined to take this article a little more seriously if it wasn’t so sensationalized: “It’s like someone chopping off your arms and throwing you in the middle of the jungle.. with a lobotomy to boot. Now you will be in the same situation as a freshly declawed kitty.”

    • This article is not sensationalized. But try to put yourself in the cat’s position. Claws are an important part of a cat’s life. I believe that declawing is cruel & unnecessary. Please look at the website of They are a group who work in California and are trying to get declawing banned in the U.S. They also see the big cats:Lions & Tigers in captivity who are often declawed and become crippled by the procedure with resulting years of pain & handicap. Declawing is just plain wrong. There is no good reason for it. And by the way , there are lots of declawed cats in shelters.

    • You are funny Kelly-Ann! Very dramatic!
      Anyhow this article rings true for me, having adopted and known both declawed and clawed cats, and having worked at a vet once who did the amputations. Often it was done for people who did NOT really understand cats, who wanted to “sanitize” them. Did not want to mess their house with scratching pads. Did NOT want to attempt alternatives. Some of the most stressed cats I met have been declawed. Ok, not all! I had one who was lame for years due to recurrent abscesses in the feet – many have a “funny” gait that I can pick out. And can they ever learn to use those back legs and teeth!!!
      It is not like cutting off an arm and throwing it in the jungle (your words) but kind of like taking out a dog’s canine teeth as a puppy – in CASE he bites! Rather than bother to train the dog.
      Just my opinion!

      • If declawing is barbaric, isn’t spaying the same as it removes all reproductive organs and no hormone replacements are given. We would never do that to a woman. My point is that both are medical procedures that affect the animal. I believe the next generation will think that spaying is barbaric too. We have always declawed our cats over the last forty years and have never had a problem ever! Where are all these psycho cats?

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