soapbox : care & well-being

a declawed cat is a MUTILATED cat


Photos used with permission from

The truth about declawing.When I say "mutilated," I'm not being extreme. Rather, I'm understating the problem. What happens when a cat is disfigured in this way? In the words of noted veterinarian, Dr. Nicholas Dodman:

"The inhumanity of the procedure is clearly demonstrated by the nature of cats' recovery from anesthesia following the surgery. Unlike routine recoveries, including recovery from neutering surgeries, which are fairly peaceful, declawing surgery results in cats bouncing off the walls of the recovery cage because of excruciating pain. Cats that are more stoic huddle in the corner of the recovery cage, immobilized in a state of helplessness, presumably by overwhelming pain. Declawing fits the dictionary definition of mutilation to a tee. Words such as deform, disfigure, disjoint, and dismember all apply to this surgery. Partial digital amputation is so horrible that it has been employed for torture of prisoners of war, and in veterinary medicine, the clinical procedure serves as model of severe pain for testing the efficacy of analgesic drugs. Even though analgesic drugs can be used postoperatively, they rarely are, and their effects are incomplete and transient anyway, so sooner or later the pain will emerge." [Emphasis added]
~ from The Cat Who Cried For Help

If you still have a difficult time understanding that this is an amputation, Dr. Richard Pitcairn, author of Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, writes that declawing "is the equivalent of removing the first joint of all your fingers."

Still missing the point?

"Declawing in cats is a surgical procedure in which the animal's toes are amputated at the last joint. Contrary to popular belief, bone — not just nail — is removed. Declawing may result in permanent lameness, arthritis, and other long-term complications. It is actually illegal in many countries. Great Britain's Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons goes so far as to declare declawing 'unnecessary mutilation.' "
~ Jennifer Conrad, DVM, Director, The Paw Project

Physical Effects

In her book The New Natural Cat: A Complete Guide for Finicky Owners, Anitra Frazier reports that the physical effects of declawing include:

  • a gradual weakening of the muscles of the legs, shoulders, and back
  • impaired balance
  • irrevocably altered posture
  • abnormal walking ability, since declawing makes the cat clubfooted and forces the cat to walk with his weight back on the rear of his pads
  • reduced defensive ability; a declawed cat is left 75% defenseless — cats don't use their teeth for defense, they use their claws

Psychological Effects

Frazier lists the emotional toll of declawing as:

  • constantly living in a state of stress, since they're defenseless (which affects their immune system, rendering them more vulnerable to disease)
  • increased tension and nervousness, which often results in them biting sooner and more often than intact cats

Rebuttals to Declawing Proponents

Common excuses people make to justify declawing include:

  • "Declawing does nothing to harm the cat."
  • "If I don't declaw my cat, I'll have to surrender her and she'll likely be euthanized."

To read factual, logical, and ethical rebuttals to these and other excuses, see Declawing of Cats from Feline Future.

More Information and Resources

What I've presented here is but a small description of declawing and its results. There are many excellent articles and resources available — for more information, see the following:

Declawing: Disclose and Wait
Written by Franny Syufy, Cats Site Guide. No one should ever have a cat declawed before being fully informed of the procedure and the consequences. Syufy describes the problem of declawing and offers solutions and ways to take action.

Declawing: What You Need to Know
Veterinarian Christianne Schelling explains what you need to know about declawing and provides detailed, factual, in-depth information (graphics of the procedure are included).

The Paw Project
Wonderfully informative site. "The Paw Project exists to increase public awareness of the painful and crippling effects of feline declawing, to abolish the practice of declaw surgery, and to rehabilitate big cats that have been declawed."

A Personal Look At Declawing
Internationally published photographer and writer, Diane C. Nicholson, shares her experience and views regarding this mutilation. "What I watched stunned and sickened me ... When I realized that a good deal of her paws had to be amputated, I had a hard time assisting with the surgery. But perhaps the worst part was when she awoke from the anesthetic, sitting up like a frightened raccoon, waving her bandaged paws in the air and howling non-stop. I had worked at a Children’s Zoo for 5 years, raising and healing all types of injured and orphaned wildlife. I had never heard such a plaintive cry from any creature. [Her] eyes were wide and frightened, and she tried to stay off of her throbbing paws as much as she could, in spite of the lingering effects of the anesthetic. It was apparent that she was in exquisite pain but also, that she was intensely frightened."

The Problems With Declawing
What exactly happens when a cat is declawed? Veterinarian Paul Rowan outlines the most common procedure used to remove claws and the traumatic results. The Declawing Information Site
Extensive links and resources condemning declawing. Graphic photographs of this grisly procedure are included.

Surgical Claw Removal ... An Extreme Solution
This article by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) describes the physical and psychological effects of declawing, and the ethical problems it raises.

Veterinarians Who Don't Declaw
List of US and Canadian veterinarians who refuse to declaw or who declaw only under extreme duress, after strongly discouraging it and actively working with cat guardians on humane alternatives. A no-declaw policy is an excellent indicator that a veterinarian is caring and respectful of all creatures.

Why Cats Need Claws
Written by Gary Loewenthal, this is a wonderful, fabulous article that anyone even remotely considering declawing should read.

Why Kuja's Kept Her Claws
Read a personal testimony of why Rochelle decided not to declaw her cat, Kuja.

Why You Shouldn't Declaw Your Cat
The Oakland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Alameda County suggests alternatives.

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