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. We have had 3 cats over the last 40 years ,the last guy was 17when he passed,each one was declawed, never an issue with any of the cats after the surgery. I certainly would not debate the pain aspect, I am sure it is painful ,like any surgery your animal may have. However as total house cats the damage done to people and property by all 3 cats there was not really a choice. We tried training, trimming(that’s always fun for the average untrained person) we used scratching posts, we even tried those nail caps( another impossible job for the untrained). We spent a lot of time trying everything but in the end the declawing was the only solution. I think the issue is whether they are going outside or not. The people who allow their cat outside are the ones that should be banned, talk about abuse and or the certain knowledge of danger to their cat, that is a real problem!

  2. Don’t worry – I have 5 cats and 3 are declawed. You can have the cat declawed as long as the Vet will do it. It’s more important for the cat to have a good home and be neutered/spayed, than to worry about declawing. The reality is that a lot of cats would lose their homes if they weren’t declawed. Animal rescues should discourage declawing, not recommend banning the practice. I am more concerned about people breeding cats than I am about declawing.

  3. So let me get this straight..
    Cats paws are more important than children’s faces…
    I think the times have changed, and it’s disgusting.

    • No one is saying that cats paws are more important than children’s faces. Only that people who want to adopt a cat should educate themselves on what cat guardianship entails. Perhaps it would be better for them to get a small animal like a pet rat or a hamster especially if the pet is for the children in the house hold. This argument that if people aren’t allowed to declaw their cat there will be more cats in shelters just doesn’t hold water. It just isn’t true. Cats come with claws just like they come with whiskers and paws. Declawing is a cosmetic procedure. It does not benefit the cat in any way. It is purely for the benefit of the owner.
      Declawing is mutilation. The procedure is extremely painful and often vets do not give adequate analgesia following this surgery. There are many long term complications. Some are physical and others are emotional. Cats cannot tell you that their paws hurt but they might stop using the litter box due to pain. Declawed cats are more likely to bite as well. I cannot think of a single good reason to declaw a cat and indeed 40 countries agree with me because in many countries around the globe, declawing is banned. The vets in these countries are not permitted to declaw cats.
      I sincerely hope that the times have changed. I hope that soon there will be a ban in North America on cat declawing. There are many people who are turning against this practice. They now are realizing through public education that “declawing” is not just the removal of claws but also the removal of bones and tendons. It can be likened to having your fingers amputated to the first knuckle. Indeed, declawing is actually toe amputation. So it’s time to stop fooling yourself . It isn’t a small, insignificant procedure. It is agonizing and it is life-changing for the cat in a very bad way.
      If you would like more information about cat declawing go to I have found them to be an excellent resource. They seem to be doing good work towards educating people about the real issues surrounding the declawing of cats both the small variety and the big cats.

      • Pet rats can also bite. Dogs bite. I do not understand the paranoid reasoning of someone who declaws because “the cat might scratch a child” should really not get a live animal. Do they remove their pets teeth, too?

    • Peebs a cat who is aggressive can easily bite a child’s face. Do you take out the teeth too?

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