can a cat be declawed

Declawing, also known as onychectomy, is the removal of a cat’s claws so they will not grow back. There’s a common misconception that declawing cats involves simply pulling out the nail and its root, but what actually takes place is an invasive surgical procedure.

Information for pet owners

Scratching is a normal behavior of cats. Stretching the cat’s muscles promotes healthy muscle engagement, conditions the claws, and acts as a visual and olfactory territorial marker. A cat can often be trained to scratch only the right kinds of surfaces. But an overindulgent or inappropriate scratching habit from a cat can become destructive or hurt household members.

Punishment is not an effective deterrent to scratching. But there are lots of management and training programs that can assist in properly rerouting scratching:

  • Having suitable scratching surfaces available, such as tall enough posts and boards for full stretching Be creative; cats have different ideas about what makes a surface or location attractive!
  • Scenting with catnip may help too.
  • Frequent nail trims – every 1 to 2 weeks
  • Nail caps – replaced every 4 to 6 weeks
  • Positive reinforcement training, beginning with kitten kindergarten if available
  • Pheromone sprays and/or plug-ins
  • Put tinfoil or sticky tape on the surface to discourage people from using it.

Educate your clients about alternative options and elective declawing with this handout. Available to AVMA members only.

What is Cat Declawing?

Declawing is a surgical process used to remove a cat’s claws permanently. It’s one way that cat owners keep their normal feline behavior in check when their cat scratches, so they don’t ruin furniture, carpets, or curtains. Declawing cats was once considered a standard procedure, but in recent years, the practice has gained controversy as more people see it as cruel and even barbaric. Declawing doesn’t just remove a cat’s claws. Their toes are partially amputated, with the remaining bones removed to prevent the claws from growing back. The cat declawing surgery is officially known as an onychectomy.

Declawing is a type of partial digital amputation in which a surgical blade (scalpel), surgical laser, or sterile nail clipper in the style of a guillotine is used to remove the distal phalanx (last bone) of each toe.

The distal phalanges, or phalanx, are where the claws are attached, so removing these bones will prevent the claws from growing back. But occasionally, the surgeon might not remove the entire distal phalanx, in which case the claw might grow back.

The cat is put under anesthesia for the declaw surgery. The veterinarian performs a surgical procedure to remove the last bone in each toe, seals the wounds with surgical glue or sutures that dissolve with time, and then bands the paws. Since cats mostly use their front paws for scratching, only the claws on those paws are typically removed.

A tendonectomy, which prevents the cat from extending its claws by cutting the tendons under the toes, is an alternative procedure to declaw surgery.

Pros of Declawing Cats

Cats may occasionally need to have their toes amputated due to medical necessity, such as when they have a tumor on one of their toes or have suffered such severe injuries that their paws must be amputated.

Furthermore, some people assert that because their owners don’t want to live with their destructiveness, declawing cats may save the lives of cats that would otherwise be put to death in shelters. Declawing a cat can sometimes make it possible for its owner to keep a pet that scratches them, whether on purpose or accidentally, especially if they are sick or have compromised immune systems.


Is it OK to declaw an indoor cat?

It is not recommended and unnecessary to declaw a cat (both indoor and outdoor). The reason for this is; the procedure itself means amputation. This operation involves surgically removing the end bones of the cats toes, in order to remove the entire claw.

Will vets declaw cats anymore?

AVMA discourages declawing as an elective procedure and supports non-surgical alternatives. Declawing is a major surgery involving amputation and is not medically necessary for the cat in most cases.

Is it cruel to declaw a cat?

Sensory and motor nerves are cut, damaged and destroyed. Recovery from the surgery is a slow and painful process. This procedure can hamper the sensations and enjoyment involved in walking, running, springing, climbing and stretching. “Declawing is an inhumane, unnecessary procedure that has many alternatives.

Can a cat be declawed at any age?

For this reason, most veterinarians recommend that a cat be declawed at the same time as their spay or neuter – or between 5 and 6 months of age. However, the most ideal period to declaw a cat can be between 3 and 6 months of age since kittens can recover quickly and the trauma experienced may not be as severe.