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The Facts About Declawing

Over the years, the debate of whether or not declawing is an acceptable practice has been an ongoing issue.

What is declawing

  • Declawing is not simply the removal of the nail – it is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat’s toes – that’s 10 amputations!
  • To remove the claw, the bone, nerve, joint capsule, collateral ligaments and the extensor and flexor tendons must all be amputated.
  • Unlike people, cats do not walk on the sole of their feet, they walk on their toes. Removal of the last digits of the toes drastically alters the conformation of a cat’s feet and causes the feet to meet the ground at an unnatural angle.  This can cause consequent back pain as the cat compromises its gait in order to walk comfortably post declawing.
  • Declawing is an unnecessary surgery which provides no medical benefit to the cat.
  • Studies published in veterinary journals concluded that “Fifty percent of the cats had one or more complications immediately after surgery”.
  • Complications can include:  lameness, post-operative hemorrhage, excruciating pain, nerve damage, painful bone chips that prevent healing, chronic back and joint pain as shoulder, leg and back muscles weaken.  Abnormal growth of severed nerve ends can also occur, causing long-term, painful sensations in the toes.
  • Many behavioural issues are associated with declawing – cats that cannot mark territory with their claws may resort to marking with urine.
  • Deprived of their natural defenses, many declawed cats become nervous, fearful, or aggressive.  This can result in excessive biting.
  • Some cats develop an aversion to the litter box after being declawed.  It is thought that they associate  the pain felt after surgery with having to use the litter box.  This can be a lifelong issue.
  • Removing claws can make a cat feel insecure.  The stress caused by feeling defenseless can lead to medical disorders such as idiopathic cystitis, inflammatory bowel disease and immune system disorders.
  • When surveyed, many vets are honest and state that if they used the word “amputation” to explain the declaw procedure, most clients would not have the surgery performed.
  • Declawing is a North American thing.  Imagine what the rest of the world must think of us!


Here are some great sites with information about alternatives to declawing

Cat Scratching Solutions

Trimming Nails

Soft Paws

This a a photo of Nigel (formerly Dudley), one of our shelter kittens – a teenager now and totally relaxed while he has his Soft Paws nail caps applied.

Photo courtesy of
Creature Comfort Pet Emporium
St. Jacobs, Ontario