Why Cripple a Cat to Save a Couch?

Imagine that you go in for an operation and you unexpectedly come out missing all of your first knuckles? To make matters worse, you actually used those knuckles to walk on your tippy-toes all of the time.

This is exactly what happens to declawed cats. Some guardians and, sadly, veterinarians might see declawing as a little more than a manicure, but the consequences are much more than cosmetic.

The recent documentary “The Paw Project” exposes the cruelty of declawing cats. As we learn in the film, many declawed cats don’t get a happy ending after the surgery; one shelter volunteer admitted on About Cats that shelters “see a disproportionate number of declawed cats surrendered.” This is an issue that we can’t ignore, especially when over 20 countries, like Israel, have already banned declawing.

What Does Declawing Cats Mean?

Declawing, or onychectomy, is a bone amputation, but declawing sounds less painful. Our nails grow from our skin, but cats are different. Their claws grow from their bone, so the last bone has to be amputated to prevent the nails from regrowing. The cats’ tendons, nerves, ligaments, functionality and movements are also compromised during the procedure.

Declawing isn’t a manicure. It’s an invasive surgery that the The Paw Project describes as “so predictably painful that it is used by pharmaceutical companies to test the effectiveness of pain medications in clinical trials.” Comparatively, The Paw Project cites that declawing is “severely painful” while other surgeries like spay and neuter procedures are described as causing “moderate pain” and “mild pain” respectively. Despite the excessive pain that can eventually become crippling, many cats have gone home without any form of pain medication.

How Common is Declawing?

You’d think that something so painful couldn’t be so popular. Pets WebMD notes that in rare instances, like when a cat has tumor growths, declawing could help. Yet, the usually unnecessary procedure is far too common. While declawing is banned in 22 countries, The Paw Project estimates that between 25 percent and 43 percent of all domestic cats in the U.S. are declawed.

Yes, some guardians request it because they want to protect their furniture from getting scratched up or they themselves don’t want to get scratched. But a gut-wrenching reason that so many cats are declawed is because of veterinarians. Many cat guardians indicate that their trusted veterinarians recommended the procedure to them without explaining the risks.

The Paw Project cites a survey of 20 Los Angeles vet clinics that found that 75 percent of the clinics “agreed to perform declawing without question and without any attempt to establish a medical, behavioral, or any other indication to justify the procedure.”

Why would a veterinarian who is supposed to care about the welfare of an animal advocate for (usually) unnecessary pain? Sadly, it has a lot to do with dollar and cents. Some veterinarians can earn up to $1000 per hour just from a declawing procedure. Many cats come in for routine spay and neuter procedures, and a vet can make a declawing offer as a type of add-on procedure.

The Consequences of Declawing Cats

Vets might treat a declawing surgery as an add-on, but they really are taking away from the cat’s true essence. Here are a few of the ways that a cat is robbed after it has been mutilated:

Health: Like any surgery, there’s always a chance of infection. Unsuccessful surgeries can make the claw regrow with abscesses. Surgery complications aside, declawed cats can’t support their body weight the same way, and their gait completely changes. The Paw Project describes it as “a painful ‘pebble-in-the-shoe’ sensation when they stand or try to walk.” While some cats won’t show their pain (because they are instinctually good at hiding it), many cats will try to compensate for their pain by walking on their wrists (and the wrists will develop arthritis from the constant pressure and eventually cripple a cat), or, in extreme cases of pain, by walking on their elbows.

Behavioral: Many declawed cats will find that the pebbles in their litter box too unbearable to walk in. The cat’s solution: not use the litter box anymore. Coincidentally, many cats are surrendered to shelters due to soiling and spraying issues. Another common reason that cats end up in shelters is aggression, or biting, and aggression has been linked to declawing since the 1960s.

Emotional: Cats have their own priorities. (Play) hunting, climbing, fighting, scent marking and comfort kneading are important in a cat’s universe; their claws play important roles in all of these activities. While we don’t know much about the emotional lives of cats, some feel that declawed cats can become depressed, anxious, insecure, nervous, agitated and antisocial. You can read more declawed cat horror stories from the guardians themselves here.

Outside of those rare life-and-death situations where declawing is the best option, is any of this worth doing to your cat?

The Humane Society doesn’t think so. A much easier and cheaper solution might be to routinely trim their claws. Introducing scratching posts and a little bit of training could also work. There are also safer alternatives like Soft Paws (soft plastic caps that will look like your cat just got a manicure) or Sticky Paws (a tape that you put on furniture that many cats will avoid). If this was about my cat, then I’d just get furniture that I didn’t care about so much.

Take Action!

I wouldn’t cripple my cat to save my couch. Canadians agree, and they are sitting on the possibility of banning cat declawing in the country. Please sign and share this petition to let Canada’s prime minister know declawing needs to be banned now.

Photo Credit: Red Rose Exile


Jim Ven
Jim V3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Luigina C.
Luigina C4 years ago

This is horrible, anyone who does this does not love their cat. Ban it now, and ban it everywhere !!!!

En A.
Eileen A4 years ago

It is a horrible thing to do to a cat!

Jacqueline GLYDE4 years ago

I had a boyfriend many years ago that had declawed his cat,Claudius & back then never knew much about it.Since then,I found out that he had died from lung cancer.
I hope the bastard suffered every day of his selfish little life!!!!!!!!!!

Angev GERIDONI4 years ago

Thank you to all who love the animals and the planet, and who already signed the petition to protect horses from Pétropolis, if no, please help give an happy end to the sad story of those enslaved animals, and share these petitions :
1) Care 2
2) PeticaoPublica.com

To know more on poor horses from Petropolis :
3) Petropolis shame‬

Thank you for sharing

Bill Eagle
Bill Eagle4 years ago

We have a beautiful scratching post and kitty play area but our cat still wants to shred our furniture

Helga Ganguly
Helga Ganguly4 years ago

I've never had any luck with any kind of scratching post or rubbing catnip on surfaces or cat cubes or door scratching pads or sisal or even a six foot cat tree with caves and sisal and rope. Our cats have always scratched where they wanted to scratch.I cut their nails once a week but that made no difference. I've lost 2 couches and unlike some of you,I'm very fond of my " stuff." But when my kids couldn't resist damaging small things,I put them up higher,I didn't remove their feet. We have many cat and dog beds in the house and our cat can be found on 4 of them,sometimes 8. The dog has 7. The cat appropriated some-no fighting involved.She has shown kneading behavior in the dog's former bed. I was thrilled.She's feral and this is the only early cat behavior she has shown since we took her in 3 years ago. She doesn't play,only climbs the tree,never furniture or counters. I took her to the vet once after a 6-7 hour chase.She bit me.We had her fixed and inoculated and 4 bad teeth pulled plus she was pregnant.The vet aborted her kittens without our permission. They gave her back without painkillers. My daughter came and took her to her vet.Thank goodness. But I have never tried to take her in again. I usually bathe the pets once a week,clip nails,and brush teeth. I can't do that for her.So I feed her the very best food. I buy the dental and hair bail treats. And she tells me twice a day it's time to eat. I have the feeling her eyesight isn't very good.The second vet agreed somet

Floodedarea Please Help
ANA MARIJA R4 years ago

well said, Gloria p.
Petition signed.

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper4 years ago


Rhonda B.
Rhonda B4 years ago

My cat Socks has is claws. He has a scratching post.