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 don’t want to declaw my kitty but NOBODY AND I MEAN NOBODY can trim his nails, he has been wrapped in blankets, we have tried putting a cone around his head to stop him from biting the groomer all to no avail. My furniture i don’t worry about all of my body parts I do worry about. The nails have to be trimmed or there will be issues with overgrown nails. He has a great scratching post that is not the issue. The issue is being able to trim the nails so he can walk and function properly. Any advice

    • He can condition his claws in other ways. There are sisal scratching surfaces which you could sprinkle cat nip on. You can get plastic claw covers that are supposed to be good .I have an out door cat so he doesn’t need any special care but he does have a scratching post/ climbing house. I put cat nip on it and he scratches it like crazy and it helps him shed those old claw layers. Your vet could probably trim them. If you declaw your cat you will make him miserable. Cats need claws. They love their claws. Please read for all the reasons you should NOT declaw your cat.

    • Although tricky, some volunteers have had luck with someone scruffing his neck and then someone else trim his nails very quickly, or the vet could also sedate your kitty and do the nail trim.

  2. OK. How to explain this? Cat declawing is a cosmetic procedure. It is not done for the welfare of the cat. Cat declawing is banned in many countries like the United Kingdom, many European countries, Israel, Australia. Now , ask yourself why that is. It is because it is cruel, unnecessary and does not benefit the cat. There are short and long term undesirable (for the cat ) side effects and complications. I could go on but I think I have said enough.

  3. we took a cat from a shelter and today that cat jumped our daughter she is now hurt on the head and almost lost one eye , its 2 times we get attacked . by it . no, one want sto adopt the wild cat and we are left with the option of sending it back to a shelter where no one will take it , cause he is 2 years old and will be euthanised or have it declawed any advice ?

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