• 435-644-2001 • www.bestfriends.org
Declawing: The Price of Convenience
By Judah Battista
The declawing of cats is still routinely performed in
this country, even though it is illegal or considered
inhumane in many other countries around the world.
Most people decide to have their cats declawed as a
matter of convenience to protect their furniture from
cat scratching or to guard against injury to themselves
and family members.
Many of these people, however, don’t realize the
pain that the surgery can cause. Declawing is the
amputation of each toe at the first joint. In humans, it would be equivalent to cutting off
the tip of every finger at the first knuckle – very painful, indeed! If performed on a human,
this operation would be considered a mutilation. It is as unethical as tail docking and ear
clipping in dogs.
People who declaw their cats also may not be aware that the surgery can cause more
problems than it solves. Cats deprived of their front claws may develop an aversion to
the litter box. Their paws remain sensitive from the surgery, so they avoid scratching in
their litter and may begin eliminating around the house instead.
Declawing leaves cats without one of their primary defense mechanisms, and impairs
their balance and ability to climb. Many declawed cats suffer from joint stiffness. In
certain cats, it may leave psychological scars that translate into behavioral problems.
Declawing is essentially done for the convenience of humans – to the detriment of
the cat. You are working against rather than with your kitty if you force him to endure
needless pain and put him at risk for developing negative side-effects to the surgery.
If you want to protect your furniture, there are humane alternatives to declawing. Cats
scratch things for various reasons – to slough off the husks of dead claws, to mark their
territory, and to stretch their bodies. It’s a completely natural behavior, so give your cat
an alternative place to scratch – a scratching post. You can encourage your kitty to