Safe Alternatives to Declawing Your Cat for Declaw Awareness Day


March 29 is Declaw Awareness Day – Please take a moment to read and share the facts on declawing.

Cats are declawed for a variety of reasons – primarily to prevent them from sharpening their claws on furniture and household items. What many people might not realize is that declawing is actually an invasive procedure that involves the amputation of each of the ten front toes of the cat’s paws (something that would be equivalent to us losing the entire tip of every finger at the first knuckle) and can cause serious, lifelong changes to the cat.

A cat has claws for a reason – without them it affects their health, well-being, personality, and behavior. Removing the claws changes the way a cat’s foot meets the ground, so walking for them would be comparable to the painful “pebble-in-the-shoe” sensation we feel when they stand or try to walk. This condition can lead to abnormal posture and movement and may even produce arthritis in the legs, which, in turn, may cripple the cat further and cause it more suffering. Since cats tend to hide symptoms of pain, much of the pain is masked by behavioral tendencies that could unfortunately lead to litter box problems, which often lands them in a shelter as a result.


This diagram makes it very clear why declawing is so invasive.

There are alternatives to such drastic steps. With some behavioral and training corrections, such as a few well-placed scratching posts, declawing does not need to be an option. I know at our house we have a simple mindset to declawing that was born of the everyday joy, love and companionship our cats give us – if you can’t take it to the grave with you, does it really matter in the long run? And I know in my case, I don’t plan on taking any couches to the grave with me…

Providing a cat with proper scratching boards and cat condos can eliminate the need for dangerous declawing

One the best ways to deter your cat from scratching your furniture is to provide them with lots of scratching options. This multi-level cat condo that we use in our house is sturdy and has lots of vertical posts that allow the cats to stretch their muscles while scratching.

Providing a cat with proper scratching boards can eliminate the need for dangerous declawing

If your cat doesn’t immediately take to a scratching board like Kizmet, try sprinkling it with catnip to entice him.


Another alternative to declawing is Soft Paws. Soft Paws are vinyl tips that are designed to prevent cats from harming furniture or humans when they scratch. Photo courtesy of Pet Radio

I think my friend and fellow cat advocate, Jackson Galaxy from Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell” sums it up the best in this video he did to help spread the message about the inhumanity of declawing in conjunction with the Paw Project, an organization devoted to ending the inhumane practice of declawing through education and legislation. It’s informative, easy to understand, compelling, and the best argument I have seen to help illustrate why declawing should be banned.

Along with the Paw Project, several organizations such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States are strongly opposed to declawing. Certified cat behaviorists such as Marilyn Krieger are against declawing and  many U.S. veterinarians such as  Dr. Christianne Schelling of Schelling Veterinary Services in California and Dr. Kirsten Doub owner of Union Park Veterinary Hospital in Utah will not practice the procedure at all. – A dedicated site authored by Veterinarian, Dr. Christianne Schelling that offers in-depth information on what declawing entails, declawing alternatives, and a list of veterinarians that do not practice declawing.

Pet Radio ShowCat Fancy Past Editor, Susan Logan-McCracken; certified behaviorist, Marilyn Krieger; and Veterinarian Dr. Christianne Schelling elaborate at length in a shared conversation on everything related to declawing. They offer suggestions that range from how to stop a cat from scratching furniture to how and why declawing is so debilitating to cats. Click here for the full podcast.

This video from Ingrid Johnson of Fundamentaly Feline who is a certified Cat Behavior Consultant is extremely well made –  it is easy to understand and offers a quick “how to get your cat to stop scratching your couch and use a scratching post instead” visual.

If you are still considering the procedure for one of your cats, I ask that you please do your homework first before you make the call to your vet. It is important to keep in mind that all veterinarians are NOT created equal and the policy of each clinic or hospital can be different. Read the links I have provided and watch the videos to help educate yourself. A little knowledge can make all the difference in the world and if it means you don’t have to subject your cat to an unnecessary surgery, then isn’t it worth it in the long run?

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  1. Wonderful post. Thank you for spreading the word against declawing!

  2. I just figure scratched furniture comes along with having a cat! Seriously, it’s just a couch or chair. My kitties are pretty good about not scratching the couch – they have a couple of posts right by the couch they use instead.

  3. Two French Bulldogs says:

    I don’t want to declaw no buddy. Yikes
    Lily & Edward

  4. jmuhj says:

    Fortunately, my folks were intelligent and compassionate enough to know that spay/neuter is a must and that declawing is a NEVER. Grew up from day 1 “with cat” and have lived with cats most of my lfie (including currently). Living beings are FAMILY and FAMILY is for LIFE. We have lots of scratching posts and pads all over the house, and have chosen furniture that they do not have any interest in clawing. I trim the claws of everyone who will let me with cat-specific clippers. We use catnip liberally. Our most recently adopted cat came to us declawed, and he was the most well-adjusted declawed cat; he did not have litterbox issues, and he loved to “claw” on a banana-leaf footstool, but he could not climb or jump very far, so I had to provide “steps” up to beds for him. I was appalled that his former family had had him declawed!

  5. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    guys…sad lee…me claws was all reddy ree moved when eye was adopted…..
    sauce’s were two….awesum post two day with a grate message !! ♥♥♥

    tuna of moon

  6. Flynn says:

    This is a great post, but I will say again as I have many times before, I will never for the life of me understand why in a civilised country like the US, why it is still legal! Vets are supposed to help animals, not cause suffering.

  7. We can’t believe the US is still so far behind other countries and allows declawing. It should be illegal.

  8. I’m with Flynn on everything. Superb post, and it should be illegal in EVERY state in the U.S. Kudos to the Vets who refuse to do it.

  9. Ellen Pilch says:

    Excellent post. Declawing needs to be banned everywhere. I agree with you, if you can’t take it to the grave then it isn’t that important.

  10. Wonderful post. Declawing is strictly forbidden in Switzerland, and we wish it could be everywhere.

  11. meowmeowmans says:

    We so agree! Declawing is barbaric, and should be outlawed everywhere!

  12. Thank you so much for speaking out on this issue! It’s so important to educate people about this!!!

  13. Such an important post. So very, very informative. Everyone needs to read this, for sure.


  14. Peyton says:

    The two shelters were we get our cats make us sign an agreement that we can not declaw our cats. I had always heard that this was really a no-no.

  15. Just read this, Deb. Great article and I’ll pass on to my friend.