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Why You Should Never Declaw Cats

Author:

Liz loves animals. Seeing them ill, hurt, or killed breaks her heart. She advocates for "adopt, don't shop" and TNR programs for feral cats.

The Straight Dope

A fair warning: this article is not going to be gentle or pull any punches. I'm going to be very blunt, and put the graphic truth forward, because I believe strongly that the word needs to be spread to eliminate this practice forever.

Why Do People Want to De-Claw Cats?

There are many reasons people will put forth as an excuse for this barbaric practice. These reasons are stated in some of the following ways (although this is an incomplete list):

  • The cat might scratch me
  • The cat might scratch my child
  • Cats claw things--they might ruin my furniture
  • The cat might ruin my clothes with his claws

Not a single one of these reasons is valid. De-clawing cats is cruel and unnecessary, period. It is inhumane.

One of Our Cats in a Pensive Mood

Cats are wonderful companions, but you must learn about their habits and needs and be willing to live with them on their terms

Cats are wonderful companions, but you must learn about their habits and needs and be willing to live with them on their terms

Let's Discuss This in Human Terms

How would you like it if someone shoved you in a cage, took you to a hospital, and spoke to the doctor in a language you could not understand? Suppose the next thing you knew, you were being rendered unconscious.

When you awaken, your hands are in bandages, and they hurt terribly. When the bandages come off, you discover to your horror, that not only are all of your fingernails gone, but so is the entire first knuckle joint of all your fingers! That is what it really means to declaw a cat. It is no minor procedure, and it is a cruel, inhumane, and barbaric practice. Yes, I used three synonyms for emphasis!

This Is What Declawing Actually Looks Like

Poor Kitty!!  Imagine having this done to you!

Poor Kitty!! Imagine having this done to you!

Pulling no Punches:

People who are so worried about their furniture that they would even consider doing this to an innocent, gentle animal are quite simply not suitable candidates to own a pet.

Why Do Cats Claw and Scratch Things?

They need to, quite simply. It is exercise for their feet and legs, and it also deposits their scent onto the clawed surface, (from glands between their paw pads), marking it as their territory. Like it or not, cats are territorial. A group of cats can quite easily learn to live together in the same household, but they will still need to do what cats need to do.

It is essential for their mental health, as discussed above. Even cats who previously have undergone this horrendous surgical alteration will still go through the motions of clawing on things. It is hard-wired in, and you can no more change it than you can turn a tiger into a horse and ride it.

Furthermore, if the cat should get outdoors by accident, it has no defense against other animals or predators, for its claws are its primary weapon.

Mistaking Accidental Play Scratches as Being Malicious

Unless the animal is mistreated, it is the rare cat that lashes out and swipes at a person maliciously. If the cat is not being mistreated and this happens, then there is another cause; perhaps kitty is not feeling well, and a visit to the vet is in order to find out if she is in pain somewhere.

Kittens naturally tumble, wrestle and bite each other during play, and yes, they use their claws at times during this play. When you take in a kitten, it is going to need to be trained to play with and claw at appropriate substitutes. Just remember: fingers are not toys, and if you dangle your fingers or wiggle them on the floor to play with kitty and get scratched, you asked for it, so don't blame the cat!

Remember: Cats Grasp and Hold With Their Claws

That said, however, normally, the cat will not swipe at or scratch you; they will simply stick out their claws and hold on. So, if this happens, simply take your other hand and gently remove the 'claws-out' paw from your hand, while saying firmly, "No!" They don't have opposable thumbs, so they use both their paws and claws to hold onto anything.

If you snatch your hand away instead, of course you are going to end up with a nasty scratch, but you did it, not the cat! The cat was just holding, and you did the pulling action that caused the scratch. So again, don't blame the cat.

One of our cats was a stray whom we rescued, and I've taught her to understand the words, "soft paws; no claws," and she immediately retracts her claws.

Children must be taught this as early as possible, and for that reason, a young kitten is not the very best choice where young children are in the household. A calmer, more mature kitty might be a better companion for small children. This is explained more fully in my two other articles discussing when an adult cat is a better choice and how to care for a kitten.

Cat at Play

Cats grasp and hold with their paws and claws

Cats grasp and hold with their paws and claws

Living With a Cat And Your Furnishings

There are many ways to keep cats from ruining your furniture. First and foremost, play with your kitty every day! Wearing off energy by play sessions keeps a bored cat from scratching at things just for something to do. You'll want a variety of types of cat toys: some that kitty can enjoy on her own, if you're busy or not home, and other toys that include interaction with you.

There are various deterrents to keep cats from the furniture clawing business. First and foremost are to have plenty of acceptable scratching surfaces. These may include:

  • Cat furniture, consisting of climbing "trees,"
  • Scratching posts covered in sisal rope or similar coverings
  • Cardboard scratching mats
  • Special double-sided sticky tape, for discouraging clawing couches and other fabric-covered furniture
  • Repellant sprays

The tape goes on the corners of the furniture; the most likely area for cats to scratch. The majority of cats don't like sticky stuff on their paws. And, you want exceptions to the rule of cats? I'll give you one of my own. One of our cats (out of a household of six plus foster kittens), does not let the sticky tape stop her; she simply licks the tape until the sticky is gone, and claws away anyhow! She's weird! But in our case, it doesn't really matter—the furniture was already old and in bad shape. If company is coming, we just toss on a throw cover, and it looks fine.

I understand that there is a new type of adhesive for just such mischievous cats as mine. Instead of being sticky on both sides, it is sticky only on the side to adhere to the furniture; the exposed side is a slick plastic, giving them no purchase for their claws. I plan to look into those!

Get a Cat Tree and Scratching Post Combination

Cat trees come in sizes and shapes from simple to Holy Smokes!

Cat trees come in sizes and shapes from simple to Holy Smokes!

Remember: fingers are not toys!

Pay Attention to the Cat!

Being vigilant is important when you first bring a cat home, (especially a kitten—like little children, their memories tend to be short). Watch the cat, and be ready with a sharp "NO!" accompanied by either clapping your hands or a squirt of plain water from a spray bottle set to shoot a stream. That way, the water travels farther, and you can intercept the activity without leaving your comfy chair.

Position the preferred scratching surface within reach of the forbidden one, and re-direct the cat to the post or mat. Gradually, move the scratching post further and further away from the people furniture. Cats are not stupid. They can learn and be taught.

Spray Them Away From Furniture

There are also repellant sprays available. Just be sure you can test it in the store, to make sure it doesn't have any odor, or at least, not an unpleasant one. There are several brands available; we have used the "Scratch Not" spray with pretty good success.

You want to train the cats away from the furniture, but you don't want to repel the people at the same time. The one we use has no noticeable odor.

Give Kitty a Pedicure

Learn to trim your cat's claws at home. It is not difficult, but not all cats are pleased with the procedure, so it might take two people; one to hold the cat, and one to do the trimming.

Just please, be very careful not to cut too much claw and get into the 'quick.' That would hurt the cat, just as if you cut or tore your own fingernail back too far. It bleeds, and it hurts. It will also make it harder to trim their claws the next time—they will be mistrustful.

One other thing that can make the trimming procedure uncomfortable for kitty affects only long-haired cats. We had a big Maine Coon, and his feet were so furry, that sometimes bits of fur would get caught in the clippers, and pull a bit. He didn't like that, just as we would not want our hair pulled. However, it was an annoyance, and not damaging, so it did not put him off too much.

Claws Needing a Trim

Learn to trim kitty's claws. Firm, but gently pressure on the paw will cause the claws to extend so they can be trimmed.

Learn to trim kitty's claws. Firm, but gently pressure on the paw will cause the claws to extend so they can be trimmed.

How to Trim Kitty's Claws

You can use any of several types of special trimmers available. We use special-purpose small scissors for the foster kittens, and a regular nail clipper such as people use, for our adult cats. (In fact, this is what our vet uses!)

To trim the claws, hold the cat comfortably, but firmly in your lap. Reach around and gently press on the paw, thumb on top, fingers underneath. This will cause the claws to extend, as shown in the photo above. Simply snip off the sharp point on each claw. In the photo, a fair amount needs to be snipped, but most cats, even black ones, have a fairly light-colored claw, and it is easy to see where the pink part is. Don't cut too close to that, and you'll be fine.

Don't forget the dewclaw—it's up the leg a short bit from the main part of the front paws, but it is just as important in the grooming/trimming process. Neglected dewclaws can become ingrown, requiring veterinary intervention.

Dewclaw

so-you-think-you-want-to-have-your-cat-de-clawed

If kitty doesn't want to cooperate, have another person hold the cat, while you trim, or vice-versa. Remain firm and confident; don't let the cat intimidate you. Just maintain a firm hold, grabbing the scruff of the neck if need be. This is what mother cats do to move their kittens, so it does not hurt them at all.

If you are not comfortable doing this, you can take the kitty to the vet or the groomer to have this done, but expect to pay anywhere from a dollar a paw to a dollar a claw. At 18 claws per cat, (5 on each front paw, including the dewclaw); 4 on each back paw; (more if you have a polydactyl cat), that can add up. Some vets will charge you the full price of an office visit; inquire in advance. If kitty is at the vet anyway for some other reason, many vets will offer a courtesy trim at no extra charge.

Left: kitten claw trimmers, right: nail trimmers for humans; best used on adult cats

Left: kitten claw trimmers, right: nail trimmers for humans; best used on adult cats

Claw Covers?

There is a companion option to trimming, but it has to be repeated at intervals, as well. A product called "soft claws" is essentially akin to fake fingernails for people. They are hollow claw-shaped bits of soft vinyl that are glued to each individual claw.

As the natural claw grows, the fake 'tips' will have to be cut off and replaced. A cat wearing these will not be able to scratch, but not all cats will tolerate them, either. You have to get to know your cat and its personality. I know none of ours would sit still for having fake claws applied!

This Cat is Wearing Orange Claw Covers

Claw covers come in all sorts of 'fashion' colors.  I don't know about this look...

Claw covers come in all sorts of 'fashion' colors. I don't know about this look...

Remember: Your Cat Depends On You

Adopting a cat is like adopting a child—a child that never grows up and remains dependent upon you for its care for all its life.

Just as you would not cut off the ends of a child's fingers for continually reaching into the cookie jar or for drawing on the wall, please, never, ever even consider declawing a cat. If after reading this, you still feel that is an acceptable practice, then please, never adopt a cat!

The organization with which I volunteer, H.A.L.O. (Homeless Animals' Lifeline Organization) has potential adopters sign a paper promising to never declaw. If they seem inclined to insist, we show them the door and decline to place any of our kitties with that person. It is that important.

Please help spread the word, and join the Cat Support Network in their efforts to have declawing banned by law.

Love your cats; play with your cats; pet your cats, and you will have wonderful companions as long as they live!

Many More Enlightened Nations

This practice has been recognized as cruel and unnecessary in all of these countries, and they have all banned the practice:

England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand.

New York State has banned the practice, as have a few individual US cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkely, and Beverly Hills.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2012 Liz Elias

Comments

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 22, 2015:

Hello Lynn Savitsky,

Yes, I saw that post as well. Woo-Hoo!! WTG, New York! Many European countries have banned this horrible practice already. It's time for the USA to play catch up.

Thanks much for your comment and support.

Lynn Savitzky from New Jersey on May 21, 2015:

Last week I found out New York may be the first American state to ban declawing. Go, New York!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 10, 2015:

Hello, Lynn Savitsky,

Thank you very much for your kind words and support. We do need to get the word out to end this horrific and barbaric practice. In fact, it has been banned in many European countries; the USA needs to catch up!

Lynn Savitzky from New Jersey on May 09, 2015:

Beautiful. I completely agree with everything you've said here.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on March 07, 2013:

Hello again, Julie,

Thank you again for your caring and compassion. It raises hope for humanity that there are at least some of use on the side of those furry critters who cannot speak for themselves.

Julie Lowe from Rochester, New York on March 07, 2013:

Txs DzyMsLizzy, I have been rescuing these poor lost souls since 1995 or so. I truly wish the day will come when I don't have to do this anymore...imagine a world full of responsible, caring people! Oh, what a pipedream. And I do find that the declawed cats I've taken in have just been so damaged they've barely been able to hold their own until re-homed. Thanks for the great article --- if it changes ONE person's mind and they decide not to declaw, you have done your job!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on March 06, 2013:

Hello Julie Lowe,

What a horrible kind of person to toss kitties from a car! I cannot think of anything truly ladylike to say about people who would do such a thing. On top of that, the cats were already de-clawed?? This shows they were at one time someone's loved pet. It could be, indeed, that the surgery caused some other behavioral issues, prompting them to give up the animals...but in such a way! Grrrr!

Blessings upon you for working with TNR and caring for the ferals. People don't realize how that stabilizes the cat population in the area of the colony.

I'm sure your poor rescued fosters would be terrified of the other kitties... I do hope she finds a home, soon, as well. We had a senior, previously de-clawed kitty given over to our rescue group, and the poor fellow languished in the cage for nearly 8 months before one of our volunteers just could not stand it any more and adopted him herself. He is a very sweet cat, but I guess some people were afraid because he was 12 years old...but seniors need love too.

Thanks very much for stopping by and sharing your story.

Julie Lowe from Rochester, New York on March 06, 2013:

There was a person seen throwing 2 cats out of a car in a feral colony I'd been TNRing for a couple of years now. It took six months of trapping to finally get ONE of them --- and she is declawed ! Terrified of all of my other foster cats that do have their claws. Feel so badly for her, hope she gets a home soon.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on January 11, 2013:

Hello again, Rose,

I know--it is a horrible practice, and I wish we would just outlaw it in this country, as I know several European nations have done. Meanwhile, all we can do is spread the word and make people aware.

You are so right--if your furniture is more important than the well-being of your pet, then you are not a suitable pet owner. Such people should go get a pet rock instead!

Thanks very much for the votes!

Riviera Rose from South of France on January 11, 2013:

I'd never heard of declawing a cat until I started working with Americans - it's just a non-existent practice in Europe. Cats scratch, deal with it, I say! I'm unhappily cat-less at the moment and when I look at my sofas and all the scratch marks I just laugh - it reminds me of them and if you can't laugh off a bit of damage to a sofa then just don't get a cat! A terrific hub, voted up and awesome!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on December 07, 2012:

Hello again, RottenLab,

For the most part, those sites are heavily text-based. The couple of videos I've seen have not been graphic--but I cannot guarantee the entire site is free of such images; I've not had the time to delve into their archives, nor can I predict what may appear in the future. But, for now, for the most part, I'd classify them as 'safe.'

This video is about 12 minutes long, and gives the history of the movement, showing that no-kill IS very possible: http://vimeo.com/48445902

RottenLab from Canada on December 07, 2012:

Hello DzyMsLizzy,

You are probably right - I shouldn't have added my last comment. I'm a bit passionate about that topic. Sorry, I will try to use discernment!

I have to remember that there is a "a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;"

A question: do those sites/links have graphic images? I do not like seeing gruesome pictures!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on December 07, 2012:

Hello, RottenLab,

Thanks for your support of not de-clawing cats.

As far as docking and cropping, just because it doesn't have "as many side effects" is no excuse for people to perform these "cosmetic" alterations on their pets. As you pointed out, it could be that the dog would have a bit of trouble communicating properly. I don't find this to be an acceptable practice. The analogy is, what if you were taken into a hospital, without any ability to resist, and had your outer ears (pinnae) removed?

It is not true that "a lot of animals would have to be killed to start the process of becoming no-kill." That, sadly, is already being done. The real answer is in spay/neuter programs, and in the shelters living up to their names and actually sheltering and finding homes for the dogs and cats that come their way, instead of just murdering them out of "convenience."

I suggest you read the entire story at these websites:

http://www.thenokillnation.org/ and http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/

I'm not going to respond to your final comment. This is not the proper forum for that issue, and not the focus of this article.

Thank you for your input.

RottenLab from Canada on December 07, 2012:

I would have to agree with you about declawing your cat - it has too many side effects.

On the note of docking and cropping:

Docking and cropping usually does not have any of the effects that declawing does in cats. Personally,I would prefer if people didn't dock/crop their dogs, but it's no big deal if it's done properly. The only problem that results, is that the dog will not be able to communicate as well.

Another side tracked remark about becoming a "No kill Nation."

To do that, you will have to start by killing a lot of animals, and spaying and neutering many as well.

And to beat it all, North America will have to stop killing thousands of babies every year.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on December 06, 2012:

Hello again, Nellianna,

I always try to reply to the folks nice enough to leave comments after reading my articles. It just seems like the right thing to do. ;-)

You could be right about the texture they got accustomed to. I know we have a problem with our clawing up the carpet...probably our fault for covering the cat tree with scrap carpeting...how is a cat to know the difference? Oh, well...one of these days, we'll replace the carpet with that do-it-yourself hardwood flooring. ;-)

Have you tried using a black light to find where the "accidents" are? It works really well, but it does have to be pitch dark in the room--even the light from the TV will interfere. But cat pee glows yellow under black light, so you can easily find where "that smell" is coming from.

I know what you mean about missing them...I've been down that road, and it's not a happy place.

All the best to you and yours.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on December 06, 2012:

Thank you, Lizzy. How nice of you to respond.

What's puzzling about our kitties was that they used their litter box properly & regularly for all that seemed their output over all their years. Their accidents were never solid deposits, which makes it almost seem they each had some need to wee-wee somewhere else occasionally. I figured that Toulouse's was probably as I mentioned, to 'mark his territory' on furniture, especially that green chair. His wasn't ongoing except when that issue flared up.

When they were first born (in the bottom of my closet), & while their momma was tending to them there, I kept their basket super-clean, with a folded fresh sheet and terry towel which I changed frequently. Their momma tended to their messes (which must be natural instinct), but perhaps the nappy towel left a lasting impression on Camille. When she became active, she ruined a fur rug with her urine, & all her life, sought out fuzzy carpets, settling on a shag carpet in the living room in this house. I never caught her at it, but discovered lingering odors in out-of-the-way corners which she probably thought were undetectable. Her personality was a perfect lady's - - with a slightly sneaky side. :-)

Perhaps another explanation for their behavior was recompense for being declawed. Maybe it was 'bottled up' & expressed itself in the misdemeanors. In any case, they were beloved pets. They've been deeply missed, misdemeanors and all. Ours was the more serious - declawing them.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on December 05, 2012:

Thank you so much, Nellieana, for sharing your experience. We humans too often end up in the 'sadder but wiser' box.

I can relate to "accidents." One of ours hasn't seemed to figure out how to bury her deposits...and trying to show her results in her bolting from the litter box double-time. Oh, well..at least she uses the box, so I can't gripe over much!

I appreciate your comment and your story.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on December 05, 2012:

I appreciate your work, MsLizzy.

I was determined to raise indoors the two beautiful kittens we chose from the litter we'd arranged with their parents, who were outdoor, virtually alley-cat-siamese.

But I regretted having them de-clawed and wished it could be undone. I agree fully that it's a terrible choice which, of course, can't be reversed. We could've provided them clawing means to sharpen their 'tools' and taught them when & where it was OK, just as we kindly taught them several other good manners.

There were a couple of other bad habits that weren't overcome, but - - they were cats, after all! Their non-housecat-mother wasn't able to teach them good litter manners, so it was up to me to do the honors for all 5 kittens. I'd take them to the bathroom with me, where their litter box was located; no one got to leave till the 'do' was done!

But limits to my expertise on litter-use left loopholes! Over the years, a few non-accidental 'accidents' just went with having cats, I suppose. Some furniture & carpet paid the price, like Dolores said. It was that pretty soft green velvet rocking chair. Green was the key, I realized. He'd observed a stray cat 'marking' a green Kamado clay cooker on our patio; & though he was 'fixed', his instinct was to try it himself. As you say - cats are territorial, and this house was "his" territory!

Animals have natures, just as human animals do. Our interference in theirs is only slightly appropriate, at best, and we must observe their best interests. Declawing an animal who's been equipped for survival with claws is a sign of our own short-sightedness. Your illustration of a human hand 'denailed' is visceral proof. At the very least, one never can be sure the cat won't become subject to outside dangers without protection. It happens, I'm sure. I'd never ever declaw again.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on November 14, 2012:

Hello, midget38,

Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom, and I'm glad you liked the article. Thanks for the share!

Michelle Liew from Singapore on November 14, 2012:

Declawing a cat is indeed inhumane and so is debarking a dog, because these are the instincts the animals were born with and should not be taken away from them. Thanks for raising the awareness here, and I'll help by sharing too!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 27, 2012:

Hi again, MNLady,

Thanks very much for staying in touch. I agree...I often wish for a "Like" button, and in the forums, as well. On FB, I also often wish for a "dislike" button... LOL In fact, there is a small group lobbying for such,

( https://www.facebook.com/groups/412391345442150/ ) but it doesn't seem to draw much attention...only has about 20 members....which surprises me. Oh well, that's rather off-topic, eh?

Anyway, thank you again for stopping by.

NMLady from New Mexico & Arizona on October 27, 2012:

I like keeping up with this one.....anyone else wish there was a "Like" button on HUB as FB has ?

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 27, 2012:

Hello, Hyphenbird,

Thank you very much for adding your voice of strong support in favor of our kitty friends. I certainly agree that it should be illegal, though it pains me to think that we have come to such a pass that laws have to be passed to cover what ought to be common sense and compassion.

Thanks very much for your input!

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on October 27, 2012:

Hello DzyMsLizzy. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Declawing cats is cruel and should be illegal. My heart aches to know people do such things and indeed even more awful acts of horror. Good for you that you made a stand! I am here with you girl, side by side.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on August 11, 2012:

Hello there, prairieprincess,

Thank you so much for your strong support on behalf of our furry friends. It is cruel, barbaric and needless. Your mom sounds as if she was a very well-informed lady and ahead of her time on this one. Brava!

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on August 11, 2012:

Dzy, I am in 100% agreement with you. I am very glad you wrote this, and I hope that it gets seen. I can't believe that there are still people that practice this barbaric procedure. Yuck! You made a very solid case and I applaud you.

My Mom always said the same thing, too, but she had people argue with her. I can't even stand to think about cruelty to animals; it bothers me so much.

Have a wonderful day, my friend!

Perry the Cat from Mouskin, Texas on August 07, 2012:

We all run to mom when she calls us... most of the time. I, of course, will only saunter.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on August 06, 2012:

Hi again, Dolores,

Banjo sounds like a wonderful, personable kitty. Given a chance, most cats are very social, and not at all the haughty, aloof creatures they are so often portrayed. There are those, however...divas are divas, regardless of species. ;-)

Most all of our cats come when called, even if on a bit of a time-delay. LOL I'm so glad you were given the opportunity to love a cat.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on August 06, 2012:

Well, bringing Banjo into our home has certainly changed my opinion of cats. Banjo meows when he wants to show us something, like a moth up high he can't get at and wants me to chase down for him. He comes when he's called when we are outside. He is the Lassie of cats!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on August 03, 2012:

Hello, Dolores,

Your kitty sounds as if he has become a wonderful companion. Thank you for rescuing him: you made him into one of the lucky ones.

I don't have a problem with supervised outdoor playtime--but ours are so accustomed to being indoors-only that they kind of freak out if I try to take them outside without them being in their carrier. (They don't especially like THAT, either, as it usually means a trip to the vet.) I do have harnesses and leashes that allow them to be safely outdoors, though.

Thanks so much for your comment.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on August 03, 2012:

Never had a cat, never wanted a cat until we found a starving little kitten, literally on a dark and stormy night. I could not imagine de-clawing our Banjo. The whole idea seemed just awful. We've never had a problem with destructive behavior and he only slightly messed up one chair cover - but we got it out of a dumpster so who cares?

We do let him go outside - he goes in the yard when someone is there with him for about 1/2 an hour twice a day. There, he can run around like crazy, scratch at trees, etc. If someone told me I could never go outside again, that it would decrease my life span, I'd say, okay - decrease it. Just let me outside to play!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 25, 2012:

Hello, SweetiePie,

Thanks so much for your support kitties. I agree--people that worried about the fact that cats have claws should opt for a different companion, rather than mutilating the animal. (BTW--dogs also have claws, and can scratch, even easier by accident, as their claws are non-retractable!) You are right--worried about getting scratched? Get a fish!

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on July 25, 2012:

Declawing a cat always felt mean to me. I grew up with cats, had a few scratches, and I am fine. Cats scratch, it is in their nature, and people overly worried about this might want to get a dog or fish instead.

Perry the Cat from Mouskin, Texas on July 23, 2012:

Thank you for your understanding.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 22, 2012:

@ buckledupdorothy--Thanks for your contribution to the discussion. I agree, and I did mention the 'soft claws' rubber caps as one alternative. Personally, I don't think I'd have the patience or the manual dexterity to apply those--I'd rather just be sure to keep my kitties' nails trimmed properly.

@ Perry the Cat--I am sorry to hear that you were unable to find the source of Smokey's allergy problem. It could also have been an imbalance somewhere in the internal "workings" of the cat--I'm not a vet, so I can't say whether it would be thyroid, or hormonal, or what, but I know my daughter's cat has a bad habit of pulling his fur out with his teeth (chewing at himself), and they traced it to a thyroid issue.

I did not mean to imply that booties or a cone should be a permanent 'for the rest of her life' solution--only a temporary deterrent while the underlying problem was investigated and treated. I understand that this, then, was a considered and probably painful choice to make, and I'm so sorry it had to come to that. I wish you well.

Perry the Cat from Mouskin, Texas on July 22, 2012:

I appreciate your comments on Smokey's allergies, but we were unable to address her allergy problems. She is 13 years old and we feel it would have been cruel to put a collar on her or mittens for her entire life. The vet we have is anti-declawing, but agreed that in this case it would be the best solution. Smokey had nearly clawed her own ears off. They had flaps on the edges where the skin had come loose from her head. I know that the pain of those open wounds over her lifetime would cause more, continuous pain than a very professional surgery done by a competent vet.

Before I learned about declawing, I had a cat declawed by an incompetent vet. Instead of going to the trouble of going in and removing the toe bone at the joint, he went in and just broke it off between the joint and the toe. This left Wizzar with sharp bone ends and empty, floppy toe pads which caused severe pain each time she jumped. You could watch her considering each time whether it was worth the pain to jump up on anything or worse, jump down. That was the last time (until Smokey) that I ever had a cat declawed. So you can see that my decision about Smokey, made with the vet, was difficult. At first we just did the front feet, hoping it would solve the problem. But eventually we had to remove the back claws as well. The decision was not made lightly. We believed that she would lose her ears. And a life wearing protective clothing is no life for a cat.

buckleupdorothy from Istanbul, Turkey on July 21, 2012:

De-clawing is such a cruel practice - and entirely unnecessary. If you're really worried about it, there are rubber "caps" you can get for your cats which still allow them to flex, and release their scent from the base of their nails, etc. I've never felt the need to use them, but I've heard that for those who are concerned, they're a great way to go.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 21, 2012:

@ lulu16--Thank you very much for your input and for the votes and shares; much appreciated.

@ Perry the Cat--I am very sorry to hear about your kitty's allergies, and even more sorry to learn that you (and your vet!) thought that de-clawing was the solution to this problem. I do not believe there is any "for their own good" reason, with the possible exception of a severe injury that would require amputation of the paw. Skin allergies can be anything from flea allergies, to serious problems with commercial flea-control products (see the website at ( http://www.TinyTimmy.org ) for more information on that issue. It is more widespread and serious than people think. Not only allergies, but also neurological problems and even death can result from flea drops, sprays, shampoos and collars.

Barring those reasons, many allergies stem from food, and the cat may have to be put on a special diet. We had a cat come into our rescue facility with very similar skin problems as you describe, and like your cat, was scratching herself silly. It was traced to food allergy, and once her diet was corrected, she stopped itching, her hair grew back, and she is once again the beautiful Siamese she was meant to be.

In the interim, while the investigation process is going on, there are other alternatives, including the "soft claws" product mentioned in the article, and also "mittens" or "snow booties" to cover the claws to prevent the cat from damaging herself. In the case of ear-scratching, there are also the "cone" collars to keep kitty from being able to reach the ears to scratch. Sometimes, a mild tranquilizer can also be prescribed for a short time, to help calm the cat until the issue is discovered and solved.

Please read the comment above from "KathyH" with her direct quote from a veterinarian about the pain of this procedure. I am so sorry your kitty went throuth this, and it sounds to me like you need to find a new vet, who is more patient, or better educated in tracking down the cause of the allergies. This is a terrible "solution" that does not address the underlying problem.

As for your closing statement, that is correct--claw trimming on a regular basis IS necessary, and can be done easily, especially if you have raised the cat from a kitten and gotten it accustomed to having its feet handled. Thank you very much for your input.

Perry the Cat from Mouskin, Texas on July 21, 2012:

No cat should be declawed except for their own good. We have a cat who has such serious skin allergies she was scratching the skin off her head. It was so bad we were afraid she was going to lose her ears. We had her declawed for her own safety.

The cure for the other reasons for declawing can be done simply: every week or two sit with your cat and use a baby nail clippers to snip the sharp point off each claw. As long as you don't clip deeply into the claw, this will cause no harm to the cat and will blunt the claw enough to keep from scratching furniture and human skin.

lulu16 from T & T on July 21, 2012:

Great info on cat grooming! I have this website on natural balance cat food. Its theme is cat care. Consequently, I will be sharing your hub on cat de-claw on my website. Also, I have shared it with my HubPages followers. Voted up and useful.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 20, 2012:

Hello, KathyH,

Thanks so very much for your contribution. It is great to have the backup of information directly from a veterinarian. Everything we can do to get the word out and end this horrible practice for once and for all is a positive thing. Thank you for keeping your kitties' feet intact!

Hopefully, while the word is getting out, we can also eliminate useless, outdated and equally barbaric practices such as ear cropping and tail docking of dogs!

We have 6 cats, so that's a total of 54 claws to trim about every month or sometimes less. The younger ones' claws seem to grow faster, just like the rest of the cat. ;-) Thankfully, none of them are polydactyls, or we'd really have lots of claws to trim. ;-)

Thank you so much for your support and the votes.

KathyH from Waukesha, Wisconsin on July 20, 2012:

This is excellent information that needs to be out there! We took both of our cats to a "cat only" veterinarian from when they were little, and she told us exactly what you've put in this hub, that de-clawing is barbaric and cruel. She told me you have never heard a sound in your LIFE like a cat waking up from a de-claw surgery. The painful howling is like no other pain sound you've ever heard an animal make.

She told me that it IS just like amputating a humans fingers just so you won't have to clip fingernails. Both of our cats have their claws, and I wouldn't have it any other way. :) We just trim them about once a month (ONLY the tips! You have to be VERY careful not to cut down too far). Voting UP and awesome! Thanks for sharing!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 20, 2012:

@ NMLady--You are absolutely correct--it is mutilation! You are also correct in your training methods. Cats CAN be trained. They can be naughty and stubborn at times, but so can dogs and children! Thank you for your support of the kitties!

@ K9keystrokes--I agree, it should be illegal. At the very least, vets should refuse to perform this surgery on ethical grounds. As "Made" pointed out earlier, it IS illegal in Finland and many other European countries. It's past time for the USA to play 'catch-up!'

Yes, the cats love the corrugated sratchers--especially when sprinkled with catnip! Our 6 tear through one of those about every month and a half. ;-) Thanks so very much for the share! HubHugs 'backatcha.'

India Arnold from Northern, California on July 20, 2012:

It is just plain mean! Poor kitty cats. It should be against the law to de-claw a cat. If people don't want their cat to scratch up the furniture, get a cat scratching post, furniture protector, or scratching incline like the Kong supplies you have listed in your hub. They have cheap replacement parts made of corrugated cardboard that work fantastic and cats can't resist! My cats love these things. Great Hub DML! Sharing it with my FB cat-lovin' friends!

Cats everywhere are "paws-up" in approval!

HubHugs~

NMLady from New Mexico & Arizona on July 20, 2012:

Absolutely against de-clawing. We train our cats w/sticky tape on furniture and water guns at finger tips..."No!" squirt squirt "No" We take them to the scratching kitty condo often. De-clawing is mutilation.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 20, 2012:

Hello, Ruchira, Thanks very much for your comment and support for the kitties.

Ruchira from United States on July 20, 2012:

I get it...it's just darn cruel. Heart rendering indeed.

Thanks dzymslizzy!!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 20, 2012:

@ carzoy--Thank you very much for sticking up for the kitties!

@ Lucky Cats--I agree with you; there is a reason why these poor little rescued darlings are overly defensive. Poor babies! I'm glad you've given them a good home away from whoever did that to them!

Ah, cardboard boxes--the ultimate cat toy! We remodeled our bathroom back in February, and here it is the middle of July, and the box the sink came in is still in the dining room--claimed by the cats as their personal property! Thanks very much for the votes!!

Kathy from The beautiful Napa Valley, California on July 20, 2012:

never never never never would I ever do this. There is so much wrong with this....I'm not going to go into great detail because, of course...you know, MsLizzy....What a service you've done by writing this hub. Al the kitties say "thankyou!!!" It is , IMHO, barbaric and selfish. I actually have 3 rescued declawed cats....they did survive and seem to be fine except all three are overly defensive....for obvious reasons..they know they cannot probect themselves as they should...and those who do 4 paw declawing are horrible people...the poor cats can't even scratch an itch...this is ridiculous.

My cats still stretch and position themselves as if they had claws...and they scratch on the scratching post, etc. My friend has built several tripod scratching posts that are fantastic...the cats shread these and leave everything else alone...or they use cardboard boxes..they seem to love these, too

Thank you, DML, and my kitties thank you, too. All ups but funny!!!!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 20, 2012:

@ Nell Rose--I know--it is a shudder-inducing concept, and it should be. I really don't understand the mindset--anyone so unwilling to accept a cat for what they are has no business owning one. You are so right--it's a living, breathing creature, a mammal, just like ourselves, and deserves humane and loving treatment. Cats are for the most part very sweet and affectionate animals. Thanks very much for the vote and share!

@ Peggy W--It is true--former outdoor cats can learn to be indoor-only and be happy about it. One of our rescues came to us, marching up our driveway with a hole in his side. At first, my husband thought someone had shot him with a bb-gun, and was livid. On examination by the vet, however, it turned out to be a ruptured abcess, likely caused from a cat fight. We think someone dumped him in the area, as none of the neighbors had lost a cat, so we took him in. Now, he gets very nervous if I try to take him outdoors, even while holding him securely. He's very content to be an indoor-only kitty.

Thank you so very much for the votes and the share!

carozy from San Francisco on July 20, 2012:

Yay for sticking up for kitty claws!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 20, 2012:

You are right on the money with this advice about not having cats declawed. It is inhumane and leaves them defenseless should they ever get out by accident. Our two cats are also inside cats now (they came to us as full grown cats from the outside) and one of them prefers the cardboard to scratch his paws and the other one likes the sisal type of post...so we keep both. Hope that more people read this hub. Will do my part by sharing. Also voted up and useful. Thanks!

Nell Rose from England on July 20, 2012:

Hi, It made me shudder to think of someone de clawing their cat, why on earth would anybody want to do something so barbaric? actually you answered the questions very well, and to me, if someone wants a cat then they should understand what they are taking on, its not a toy, its a loving living creature, as for the furniture, well, I won't go there! lol! nice dzy, voted up and shared, nell

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 17, 2012:

@ Angelo52--Thank you for sharing your experience with your wonderful kitty. What a bittersweet ending. It must have been quite a shock to your wife to awaken and find kitty had crossed the Rainbow Bridge as they slept--but all in all--what a wonderful, peaceful way to go. We should all be so lucky when our time is up.

I agree there is also some detriment to small wildlife from feral cat populations, or by cats whose owners allow them to roam free. They are so much safer and so much longer lived indoors, though...so, while I thank my neighbor's cat every time he catches a gopher....I also worry about him, and hope he manages to avoid the usual outdoor-kitty fates. I'm pleased you liked the article.

@ Natashalh--You are so correct that this is barbarism for the sake of "convenience." Declawed cats are indeed quite defenseless, and theya re also quite sneaky, and oportunists with a high level of curiosity. If some guest leaves ad door open a hair too long, or if workmen are going in and out, it is so easy to lose your cat. Anytime we have guests or work going on, I make sure to collect all the cats and confine them to the master bedroom.

The practice is shocking, and needs to be outlawed. It needs to start with the verterinarians--ALL of them--refusing to perform this surgery! Thank you so much for your comment and for the votes!

@ PegCole17--Wow--what a perfect example of what can happen when people (apparetnly a caretaker in this case?) are careless. I'm so glad to hear there was a happy ending, though, and that your aunt was reunited with her beloved "Sugar." Just when you think womething cannot possibly happen to you, BAM! There it goes and DOES!

Thank you so much for sharing and contributing to the discussion and information.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 17, 2012:

Absolutely, MsLizzy. This is inhumane. For a fact, my elderly Auntie's cat got out and was lost while Auntie was confined to a rehab facility. When she returned home Auntie constantly walked the fence (with her walker) calling out to her lost kitty who had been declawed before she adopted it. She was distraught over the fact that her poor Sugar was defenseless against predators or even unable to catch and kill her food as she wandered around looking for home for several weeks.

Happy ending. Just before Auntie was about to move from that apartment, the cat found its way to their dining room window and was reunited with her humans.

Natasha from Hawaii on July 17, 2012:

I love it! Declawing cats is just another thing humans do to pets for their convenience while pretending it's somehow better for the animal. I like that you point out a declawed cat is defenseless. You never know when someone will let your cat out - what will he or she do without claws? They can't even climb to get away from something!

Voted up and awesome.

Angelo52 on July 17, 2012:

Great article. We had a cat that was declawed on the fronts but not by us. That's the way the shelter had received it and that's the way we got it. It was a great indoor cat that we had a lot of fun and loving times with. She lived to be 21 years before quietly passing away on my wife's chest as they slept together on the couch.

I agree that the cutting off is inhumane and so is letting the cats run loose outside where they can get hurt or pick up disease. Outside cats are also destructive of the local wildlife that is smaller than they are. Perhaps we don't care if they hunt mice, but how about all the song birds they kill?

Great article. Thanks for bringing this important information forward.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 16, 2012:

@ Victoria Lynn--Thank you for sharing your rant. You can get up on that particular soapbox any time, as far as I'm concerned. I agree with you 100%--I'd bristle, too, if someone suggested my little stub-tailed kitties had been altered at my request! Thanks very much for your input and for the share!

@ Made--It sounds to me that Finland and other European countries are more humanely advanced than we are here in The States. It SHOULD be against the law to disfigure and cripple animals for convenience' sake! I appreciate your comment and the information about the European "take" on the matter--it adds to our weaponry against this torture.

Madeleine Salin from Finland on July 16, 2012:

I have never heard of people de-clawing their cats except in the US. Here in Finland and in many other European countries it's against the law to de-claw cats. This hub is very informative. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on July 16, 2012:

I'm so glad you wrote this hub! I have 5--did have 6--cats, and have had from 3 to 6 over the years. Yes, I have had some furniture scratched up, but I could never have part of their "fingers" cut off. It's illegal in some countries, and it should be everywhere. It's awful. I agree with those who said that dogs' tails and ears shouldn't be cut. Why do people do that?? It makes no difference in looks.

My little dog was born with a little stumpy tail. I don't know why. Sometimes people ask me if I had the tail cut, and i bristle. I would never do that to an animal for my or other people's preference. I agree in that if I'm going to torture animals by cutting off their appendages, then I shouldn't have them.

Furniture is inanimate. Pets are live creatures. People should think about that. Okay. Off my soapbox now. Sharing this!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 16, 2012:

@ Ann1Az2--Hello again, and thank you for that additional comment. I agree with you wholeheartedly on those issues, as well. I find ear clipping and tail-docking to be just as barbaric and unecessary as de-clawing. If we are going to invite companion animals into our lives, we must learn to love them just as they are! The AKC does, indeed, need to come up out of the bad old days and dark ages!

@ Dexter Yarbrough--Thank you for your honesty in admitting that cats are not your favorite "people." However, I appreciate that you agree that even as a non-cat person, you are against this practice. It speaks volumes about someone's character when they can admit to not liking something, yet still refuse to cause harm. Your commment is appreciated and I gather that you will speak up for those who cannot speak.

@ hawaiianodysseus--Thank you so much for stopping by; I'm pleased you found the article worthwhile. Please give "Kona" some extra pets and ear rubs from me. She sounds like a well-loved and cared-for kitty. I will stop by and check out your hubs.

@ SantaCruz--Hi again--thank you so much for the share on Facebook--much appreciated.

SantaCruz from Santa Cruz, CA on July 16, 2012:

Thanks for looking out for the powerless!

I will share this on my cat's Facebook page. She has lots of friends :).

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on July 16, 2012:

Thank you very much for your well-written article, no holds barred tone and delivery, and obvious passion and compassion for our feline friends. If our cat, Kona, could join our human conversation, he'd be giving you a very loud Meow-Amen!

You've certainly added to our Rolodex of how to live in successful, strategic, and peaceful coexistence with our animal companions.

I extend an open welcome to you and our fellow Hubbers to drop by and enjoy a Hub or two when you have some free time.

Aloha and mahalo!

Dexter Yarbrough from United States on July 16, 2012:

Great hub full of important information, Dzymslizzy! I must admit that I am not a cat lover and just found out about de-clawing a few weeks ago. I do find this act to be unnecessary.

I like how you put it in human terms. I certainly would not want this done to me. Thanks for continuing to educate us!

Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on July 16, 2012:

Something I forgot to mention. I feel the same way about declawing as I do about ear and tail docking. It's so stupid to me. I've seen long eared dobermans and they are just as attractive. There was some talk awhile back about the AKC dropping their qualifications for ears being clipped. I'd like to see it, because I think it's senseless.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 15, 2012:

@ mecheshier--Thank you so very much for your input. I, too, hope people wake up and that this horrible practice becomes as much a faded part of history as the Spanish Inquisition. Thank you very much for the votes!

@ SantaCruz--Thanks for your comment. I probably should revised the article to mention a bit further about the "fake nails" for kitties. You are right that an elderly person's skin is very thin, and what would be a minor scratch for anyone else could be more serious for them. Best bet: keep the claws trimmed well, and/or covered. If the senior citizen is not mobile and wants to hold the cat, it might even be a good idea to try to put 'snow booties' on the kitty. Naturally, the cat would have to be taught in advance to tolerate this....

I am so sorry to hear of your experience with your kitties before. That is really sad, and it illustrates perfectly how mistrustful and 'changed' it makes them. I can certainly imagine the flood of emotions the first time they extended that paw to you.

Thank you again so very much for your well-thought-out comment.

SantaCruz from Santa Cruz, CA on July 15, 2012:

I'm glad you noted the "fake nails" for cats. That seems to be a good compromise despite the slight ridiculousness. My grandma's thin skin could be terribly ripped by a pet cat, and that would be life-threatening -- so there's more to think about than furniture or careless kids.

My cats were declawed. It was the normal culture where they were born. I couldn't touch their paws for TEN YEARS! When they finally extended their paws, I almost cried. I would never declaw a cat.

mecheshier on July 15, 2012:

Fabulous Hub. Well said. Yes, de-clawing a cat in in-humane. Love the first pics of the hand. I do hope this wakes people up. Thank you for sharing. Voted up for awesome and useful.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 15, 2012:

Hello, Ann1Az2,

Thank you so much for adding your experience to this information; it is a very valuable first-hand witness account of the horrors of declawing.

I agree with you--I'd rather have a few things a bit scratched up than give up my kitties or subject them to such a torture!

Thanks very much for the vote.

Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on July 15, 2012:

here, here! I've learned the hard way about declawing. I've had both, and will not ever have a cat declawed again. I have 4 and they all have their claws. They claw on things they shouldn't sometimes, but I'd rather have that than unhappy cats. Cats that I've had declawed just didn't act like these do. It's like it takes away their dignity or something.

Well done and voted up.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 15, 2012:

Hello, Chris Hugh,

Thanks for adding your comment, but I still vehemently disagree with declawing.

It is true that there are too many kitties killed for lack of homes, and each life is valuable. That is why I'm also a staunch advocate of spay/neuter your pets, and "adopt, don't shop."

One day, we WILL succeed in becoming a "No Kill Nation," ( http://www.nathanwinograd.com/ ) and in the meantime, I will stay ten-thousand percent against declawing, and maintain my position that if anyone thinks their furniture is more important than their pet, their priorities are in the wrong place!

Chris Hugh on July 15, 2012:

If it's a choice between a cat being declawed and a cat not being placed in a home, I'm gonna go with declawed each time. Millions of cats are killed every year for lack of homes. Each of those lives is important and worthy.