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Declawing Cats = Amputation!

How would you feel if you were taken to a doctor’s office, put under anesthesia, and woke up to find that the tips of all your fingers had been cut off?

That is what declawing is like for cats. Although statistics are hard to find, by some estimates over 20% of companion animal cats in the U.S. have been declawed.

Human holding knife to fingers to demonstrate what it feels like for cats to be declawed
For cats, declawing is like having the tips of your fingers cut off.

History of declawing cats

Why did humans start inhumanely declawing cats in the first place?

In 1950, it became popular to declaw cats across the U.S. and Canada. It was around this time that kitty litter was invented, and more people began to keep cats indoors.

From the 1970s until the 1990s, many veterinarians falsely believed that cats were not suffering from the procedure.

Cats are excellent at hiding their pain. It is important that cats evolved to hide their pain because showing it can make them an easy target for predators. But now, it’s clear that cats suffer immensely from declawing.

3 cats on an indoor cat tower
Cats need their claws!

Why would anyone want to declaw cats?

Unfortunately, some people believe declawing cats is a good way to keep cats from damaging furniture, or to prevent them from scratching people or other animals.

Cats’ nails are very sharp, and a scratch from a cat can leave a painful wound on a person.

Scratching is an instinctive behavior in cats. They cannot control it. Cats scratch to express emotions like anxiety or excitement, and they also do it to mark their territory and spread their scent. Cats scratch as a form of protection and self-defense. They may use it to fight against an animal who is attacking them, or to climb a tree to escape from harm.

Trying to prevent their natural behaviors through a surgical operation is abusive!

Declawing is painful for cats.

As humans, we can only imagine what other animals feel. But the pain that cats feel when declawed is undeniable.

While it’s commonly known as “declawing,” the operation does a lot more than just remove claws. In fact, declawing surgeries cut through a cat’s bones and ligaments. In essence, declawing is actually an amputation because the entire bone is removed.

Some cats will immediately suffer from pain, difficulty walking, and other complications. For other cats, it may take years before the damage inevitably sets in. Many cats are left unable to walk, and suffer from painful arthritis, irreversible nerve damage, bone spurs, tissue death and more.

Have you ever paid attention to the way a cat walks? Cats walk with their toes, which carry the bulk of their body weight. When a cat is declawed, the simple act of supporting their body weight becomes incredibly painful and difficult.

Because of the pain from the declawing, cats will compensate and walk improperly. The operation forces cats to essentially walk on their “wrists,” which leads to even more complications. In some severe cases, cats have been reported to walk on what would be their “elbows.”

Diagram of declawing procedure for cats
Diagram of declawing procedure

Personality changes from declawing cats

The experience of declawing is also emotionally damaging for cats. Without their first line of defense, cats may become more afraid, which can lead to an increase in aggression. And since the cat can no longer use their nails as a way to spread their scent, some cats will turn to spraying urine instead in order to mark their territory.

Declawing cats is abuse!

Many countries in Europe have recognized that declawing cats is animal cruelty and have made the procedure illegal.

Some big cities in the U.S. have realized that systemic changes are needed to bring an end to the brutality of declawing. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and other cities have banned the procedure. New York became the first state in the U.S. to ban it altogether.

To learn more about the New York declawing bill, and to learn how to work with local legislators to get a bill passed in your area, please visit

Here is the bill that passed in New York state:

Close up image of deformed cat paws on a cat who has been declawed
Deformed paws of a cat who has been inhumanely declawed.

How to control cat scratching…without inhumanely declawing cats

Cat guardians may be wondering how to best manage their cats’ scratching behaviors.

Nail trimming is the most straightforward way to manage scratching. It is also essential that cats have plenty of designated toys for scratching, such as a scratching post.

Thankfully, the world is waking up. Large organizations such as the International Society of Feline Medicine and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association have come out to oppose declawing cats.

A cat using a scratching post
Scratching posts are one way to help manage a cat's scratching behaviors!

Looking for more ways to advocate for cats?

Thank you for taking the time to learn about why declawing cats is abusive. If you’re looking for more ways to advocate for cats, consider supporting 600’s mission to end the greatest cause of suffering facing stray dogs and cats: overpopulation.

The stray cat overpopulation issue has been out of control for decades, and cats are suffering and dying because of it. Cats can reproduce extremely quickly. Cats can have multiple litters every year, with an average of 4-6 kittens. Because cats can have so many kittens, the population can quickly increase.

In many countries around the world, horribly inhumane methods are used to manage the stray population. Cats are often poisoned, drowned, or shot.

600 Million Dogs is working on creating the world’s first One-Dose Spay and Neuter Cookie! Our nonprofit science-centered mission is to significantly reduce animal suffering on a global scale by developing a safe, edible, one-dose, permanent-lasting birth control Cookie for stray dogs and cats.


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