Debunking Declawing

Onychectomy is a word that many cat owners might be unfamiliar with, but it is one that we all need to learn more about.  It is a surgical practice more commonly known as declawing, and for us cats, it’s a procedure that we like about as much as sharing a travel crate with a Chihuahua. 

The main reason declawing occurs is because cat owners don’t like their cats scratching their furniture.  Supporters of declawing are clearly attempting to resolve the furniture scratching issue with what they feel is a permanent solution – “fix” the cat, and “fix” the furniture problem.  What they may not have considered is that there are effective solutions that have been developed and are offered in today’s marketplace that avoid the need for subjecting the cat to surgery (see, Cat Furniture and Scratching and Behavior).

Research has shown that declawing procedures can have several damaging effects on cats.  Contrary to public perception, declawing is not anything like a human getting their fingernails cut.  In fact, onychectomy most closely resembles digital amputation, where the last bone of each digit is cut off.  Studies show that the practice can result in lameness and behavioral issues that make declawed cats equally if not more likely to end up in shelters.  Once in shelters, research from San Francisco shelters shows that because of their behavioral problems, declawed cats are twice as likely to be euthanized instead of put up for adoption.

In most of Europe, declawing cats is illegal, and movements are being made in the U.S. to have similar standards.  Legislation was introduced this past August to ban the declawing of cats in San Francisco except when it is medically necessary.  The passage of such a ban would result in six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine for anyone who attempts the procedure.

At, we oppose declawing simply because we couldn’t bear to put any of our pets through a painful process that would potentially lead to behavioral and physical problems for the rest of their lives. 

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