To Declaw or Not to Declaw?


by Heather Legg

A big dilemma of cat owners is to declaw or not to declaw. Why do some decide to let their cats keep their claws while others think declawing is the only way? Some owners fall in the middle, and this can be a tough decision to make. Think about the pros and cons to do what is best for the cat, the owner, and the household.

To Declaw…

The best reason to declaw a cat is if the owner has a medical condition where her health could be compromised if the cat scratches and breaks the skin. There may be bacteria under the cat’s nails that can get under the owner’s skin and cause serious infections. Those with a health condition where this could be dangerous or life threatening may choose to declaw a cat.

Do the right thing for me!

The other reason many people choose to declaw a cat is if the cat is being destructive and ruining furniture, carpets, drapery, and more inside the home. Often cats are happy with scratching posts (they do have instincts to scratch, don’t forget), but some cats may be more destructive than others. If it is getting to the point where the owner wants to get rid of the cat because of destruction, declawing may be an option.

Not to Declaw…

Declawing a cat is major surgery. It is not just a cat manicure! Cat claws are attached to the bone and declawing entails surgery, recovery time, possible complications, and pain management. Any surgery has risk involved, including the procedure for declawing.

A declawed cat should never go outside. They can’t defend themselves, and it can be life threatening to put a declawed feline outside. Though some people believe a cat should not go outside anyway because of dangers, claws or not, a declawed cat won’t even have the option.

Claws are part of the cat. Cats are born with their claws and many believe that is enough reason to keep them. It is often considered inhumane, unnatural, and selfish of the owner to declaw a cat.

Solutions to scratching issues do exist. Kittens can be trained to use a scratching post and usually won’t attack the furniture. Careful, consistent nail clipping can help the problem.

Some owners use Soft Paws, lightweight nail caps that are glued on to the cat’s nail. These last a few weeks, and then the owner just replaces them when they come off. If using these, the cats should stay indoors. Another option is if the cat has a favorite piece of furniture, some owners choose to cover it with a blanket or sheet to protect it unless company is over. It may deter the cat enough to use his scratching post instead.

Some countries have banned declawing as they deem it inhumane. This is something to think about…

To declaw or not to declaw is a serious decision. If a cat claws one piece of furniture one time, don’t rush him to the vet for declawing. Weigh the reasons and the individual situation to do what is best for the owner and the cat.

Heather Legg is a blogger who writes about healthy lifestyles and pets.


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi worked in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions. Retired, she currently lives with her spoiled dog and four chickens (who are, interestingly enough, also spoiled).


  1. I think if people want to keep cats, they have to accept the whole package. My rabbits nibble my home and wreck havoc! I try to give them toys and such but occasionally, they can’t resist the walls or doors. That’s just something I have to accept, because I chose them. They didn’t choose me.

  2. You will sometimes hear the disclaimer, “It’s better than putting him to sleep.” This is a fallacious argument, and usually offered only to soothe the owner’s conscience. Only the cat’s owner can make the decision to kill her cat because of scratching problems. He or she can also make the decision to let him keep his toes. Unlike neutering, which does benefit the cat, both healthwise and behavioralwise, declawing simply does nothing positive for the cat.

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