The Pros and Cons of Declawing Cats: What You Need to Know

Last Updated on May 7, 2023 by Lily Connel

Declawing cats has several potential benefits, such as preventing property damage and managing behavior, but these benefits are outweighed by the cons. The procedure is painful and traumatic for cats and can lead to long-term health and behavioral problems. Declawing also violates cats’ right to physical integrity and the ability to engage in natural behaviors, raising ethical concerns.

What is Declawing?

Declawing is a surgical procedure that involves removing the claws of a cat. The procedure involves amputating the last bone of each of the cat’s toes, which can be painful and traumatic. The primary reason for declawing cats is to prevent them from scratching furniture or people, but it can also be done for medical reasons such as severe infection or injury. However, most animal welfare organizations and veterinarians advise against declawing as it can cause long-term physical and behavioral problems for cats, including chronic pain, aggression, and litter box avoidance.

Different Methods Of Declawing

There are different methods of declawing, including:

  • Resection: Involves using a scalpel, laser, or guillotine nail clipper to remove the claw and part of the bone that supports it.
  • Disarticulation: This involves removing the entire joint at the end of each toe, which is a more invasive and painful method.
  • Tendonectomy: This involves cutting the tendon that controls the claw, which allows the claw to extend but not retract. This method does not involve removing any bones, but the claws are still present and may need to be trimmed regularly.

These methods involve anesthesia and carry risks such as pain, bleeding, infection, and long-term behavioral problems.

Pros of Declawing

Here are some potential arguments that have been made in favor of declawing:

  • Protecting furniture and other belongings: One of the most commonly cited reasons for declawing is to protect furniture, carpets, and other household items from being scratched by cats. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, and they may not understand that certain items are off-limits. Some people argue that declawing is a humane way to prevent property damage and allow cats to remain indoor pets.
  • Reducing the risk of injury: Cats that scratch people or other animals can cause injury and transmit diseases. Declawing can prevent cats from injuring humans or other pets, reducing the risk of infection and other complications. This argument is sometimes made in support of declawing cats that live with young children or people with compromised immune systems.
  • Medical necessity: In some cases, declawing may be medically necessary to treat a severe infection or injury that has affected the claw or toe. In these cases, declawing may be the best option for the cat’s health and well-being.
  • Preventing abandonment: Some people argue that declawing can prevent cats from being abandoned or surrendered to animal shelters due to behavioral issues related to scratching. By making cats more manageable and preventing damage to property, declawing may allow more people to keep cats as pets, reducing the number of cats that end up homeless.

Cons of Declawing

Declawing is a controversial and divisive issue, but most veterinarians and animal welfare organizations strongly oppose the practice due to its negative impact on cats’ health, behavior, and well-being. Here are some of the key reasons why declawing is widely considered inhumane and unnecessary:

  • Pain and discomfort: Declawing involves amputating the last bone of each of the cat’s toes, which is a painful and traumatic procedure. Even with pain medication, cats may experience discomfort, swelling, and bleeding for days or weeks after the surgery.
  • Long-term health problems: Removing a cat’s claws can lead to long-term physical problems such as chronic pain, arthritis, and mobility issues. Cats use their claws for balance, climbing, and self-defense, and removing them can interfere with these essential activities.
  • Behavioral issues: Declawed cats may develop a range of behavioral problems such as aggression, depression, and litter box avoidance. Without their claws, cats may feel vulnerable and resort to biting or other aggressive behaviors. They may also avoid the litter box due to discomfort or pain when scratching.
  • Difficulty adapting to new environments: Cats that have been declawed may have difficulty adapting to new environments or situations, such as moving to a new home or being introduced to other pets. Their inability to use their claws for self-defense or balance can make them feel anxious or vulnerable.
  • Ethical concerns: Many animal welfare organizations and advocates argue that declawing is an inhumane practice that violates cats’ right to physical integrity and the ability to engage in natural behaviors. Declawing is also not medically necessary in most cases and is primarily done for the convenience of humans.
  • Alternatives to declawing: There are many alternative solutions to declawing that can help prevent property damage and manage cats’ behavior. These include providing scratching posts, training cats to use the litter box, using claw covers or nail caps, and trimming the cat’s nails regularly. These solutions are less invasive and do not carry the same risks as declawing.


In conclusion, declawing is a controversial and divisive issue in the world of animal welfare. While some argue that it is a necessary measure to prevent property damage and manage cats’ behavior, most veterinarians and animal welfare organizations oppose the practice due to its negative impact on cats’ health, behavior, and well-being.