Declawing Your Cat – Should You or Shouldn't You?

Declawing Your Cat – Should You or Shouldn't You?

That is a question facing many cat owners. Some think declawing isn’t harmful to the cat and others disagree. I strongly disagree. It is, in my opinion, cruel. Declawing strips your cat of an important natural defense mechanism. It’s not just a simple procedure; it actually involves removing the entire nail and is an amputation of the last knuckle to the nail. In many countries declawing is considered inhumane and is illegal or done only in extreme cases.


  • Takes away your cat’s main defense mechanism
  • Can hinder your cat’s ability to escape from a situation quickly
  • Makes it more difficult or impossible for your cat to jump and climb
  • Can throw your cat’s balance off
  • Might cause litter box problems because following declawing your cat’s paws will be more sensitive to litter and thus can cause discomfort
  • Can cause your cat to experience depression, due to the loss of natural defenses and diminished ability to jump and climb
  • Subjects your cat to health risks such as infection while the paws are healing and declawing requires anesthesia which always brings a level of risk

What do you do if you’re having a problem with your cat clawing on the furniture or carpet? First it’s important to understand that cats don’t scratch merely to ruin or damage our furniture and carpet. It is very natural for them. They scratch for a variety of reasons which include: to remove the outer sheath of the nail, sharpen and file the nail, and release scents on the object to mark it. So the best way to prevent your cat from scratching on the things you don’t want him/her to is to provide an alternative, such as a scratching post. There are many types of scratching posts available made of a variety of materials. If your cat likes to scratch on your carpet, then get a post covered with carpet. Experiment with different types of scratching posts to see what works for best your kitty. We find having a few different options around the house work quite well. Cat condos double great for scratching posts.

Once you purchase a scratching post you might need to train your cat to use the post instead of your furniture or carpet. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Spray catnip on the post
  • Show your cat the post and go through the scratching motions yourself while kitty watches
  • Spray your cat with water when she/he scratches where she/he’s not supposed to and reward her/him when she/he uses the post
  • Cover your cat’s favorite scratching places with something like double-sided tape

Most important, be patient with your cat while he/she learns the proper place to scratch. And they do learn. Now that doesn’t mean they don’t occasionally scratch where they aren’t supposed to – just keep reminding them where the post is, by taking them to it, and reward them when they use it.

Something else that can help is to keep your cat's nails clipped. Either take your cat to your veterinian or learn how to clip your cat's nails yourself. But, please, before you try to clip kitty's nails at home, educate yourself by asking your veterinian (or vet tech) to show you the proper way to clip a cat's nails. If you clip too far and go into the quick of the nail then you can hurt your cat and cause bleeding.

Another option is to get claw sheaths that cover the nails (like Soft Claws), but these can oftentimes be clumsy for the cat.

I find keeping my cats claws clipped and proving a variety of scratching posts around the house works very well.

Soft Claws for Kittens First Year, Size Kitten & Small, Color Clear -- Buy from Amazon
Soft Claws for Cats - CLS (Cleat Lock System), Size Medium, Color Clear -- Buy from Amazon

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This content was written by Melissa Knoblett-Aman. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Melissa Knoblett-Aman for details.