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The Truth About Declawing

By Stephanie Sivula Published: July 10, 2012

Our Take On:


Declawing cats is a relatively commonplace procedure in veterinary medicine. We regularly receive questions from owners who are curious about what the surgery entails. Most have been led to believe that it's an easy, routine process... but this isn't the case.


Owners choose to declaw their cats for a number of reasons; some are frustrated by shredded couches or curtains. Others are worried about being scratched themselves. Some just think that declawed cats are easier to live with.

In most cases, cats are preemptively declawed as part of a spay or neuter package. Many veterinarians are comfortable in performing this procedure and stand behind it as both ethical and desirable.


At Dancing Paws Animal Wellness Center, we do not advocate declawing except in instances where 1) an owner has tried every means to curb the scratching related behaviors and 2) the alternative is imminent euthanasia.



Why are we so against this procedure? We have three primary concerns that add up to one big aversion.


Often times, declawing involves removing the last digit of each toe. If performed on a human, this would be the equivalent of cutting off each finger at the last knuckle. The acute discomfort associated with the surgery is profound, and very difficult to manage with even the most aggressive medications.


Surgical procedures involving the feet are very prone to infections, especially when a cat is stepping in and out of a litter box, which is often laden with bacteria.


Some techniques of closing the incision may result in long term problems - for example, if a veterinarian uses tissue glue to seal the site, using just a little too much can cause pooling of the excess glue in the wound. When this glue hardens, it can mimic a pebble in a shoe and cause your cat pain with every step.


Because of the very high volume of nerve endings in the feet, some cats can suffer chronic, nerve-related pain, which is both difficult to manage and can last long after the surgery site itself has healed


Most importantly, declawing just isn't necessary for most cats! Behavior problems associated with scratching can often times be curbed, eliminating the need for surgery altogether. 



Don't worry - we're not abandoning you to a shredded home. 


Provide your cat with appropriate places to scratch!   Though in might not be the cutest thing your cat does, scratching is both NORMAL and NATURAL. Because of this, it's imperative that owners provide acceptable outlets for this fun feline activity.


Keep your cat's preferences in mind: does he normally scratch on horizontal or vertical surfaces? Mimic this preference when choosing a scratching post for home. Does he prefer soft surfaces, like carpet? Or rough surfaces, more comparable to woven rope? Scratching devices come in a variety of textures, shapes and sizes, so try a few different kinds to find your cat's favorite.



Keep your cat's nails trimmed!   We cannot stress enough the importance of making sure your cat's nails are short and manageable. Many cats will NOT destructively scratch if their nails aren't too long. If you're comfortable in learning, your veterinarian can teach you the proper way to trim your kitty's claws from the comfort of your own home. 



We love Soft Paws!   Soft Paws are blunt, acrylic caps that are glued over your cat's nails. They prevent your kitty from causing damage when she scratches. There are generally replaced every 4-6 weeks, and come in a variety of fun colors! These caps are very well tolerated by most cats and are a pain free way to manage scratching. They're simple enough to put on at home if you have an extra helper, or we're happy to do that for you at our office! You can order them direcly online at or



Dancing Paws Animal Wellness Center is an integrative medicine veterinary clinic providing care for dogs and cats in Northeast Ohio! It is our mission to provide compassionate, holistic care to not only ensure your pets are free from illness, but enjoying optimum health. We offer holistic services such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage therapy, rehabilitation, nutrition counseling and more! Check out our website at

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