Skip to Content

Is it bad to have my cats declawed?

My view on cat declawing is that every cat owner should make her own decision. Declawing a cat is not inhumane. It is a reasonable option for people who want to own a cat and nice furniture.

I don’t feel so bad for the pampered indoor cats that get declawed because I know these cats are lucky to live in homes where they are loved.

Many cats are not so lucky.

In 2010, 446 impounded cats were killed in our three local pounds located in Fargo (N.D.), West Fargo (N.D.) and Moorhead (Minn.), according to the pound stats reported by Adopt-A-Pet of Fargo-Moorhead.

I do not feel bad for cats that live in homes without their claws while so many cats are killed in pounds.

Josh and I got a new couch Friday, so now we are facing the question most cat owners ask at some point:

Should we declaw our cats or not?

Josh is all for it, and I’m on the fence so we probably will have Beamer and Scout declawed eventually.

I’ve written about the pros and cons of declawing a cat before, so I won’t repeat myself here.

Instead, I want to share my personal take on this issue because I do believe it is a personal choice for every cat owner. I’m not telling you what to do. I’m just explaining my point of view as a cat owner who loves her cats very much.

Personally, I want to do all I can to teach my cats not to scratch the furniture. If nothing works, then I am 100 percent in favor of declawing them.

So right now we are teaching them they are not allowed on the couch at all (I know, I know. Just hold off on the laughter a bit). Dogs are not allowed on the new couch, so the cats aren’t either.

It’s not just the actual scratching from cats that damages furniture. It’s years of cats “kneading” into the cushions with their claws as the get comfortable and relaxed. It’s years of jumping onto the arms and the back of the couch. It’s years of wrestling and playing on the couch.

So we’re trying a new concept: No cats allowed.

Our cats respond pretty well to a voice correction – “Hey!” or “No!” We use that if they approach the couch, and we also have a water bottle nearby. We haven’t had to use it yet. The cats have plenty of other seating options such as an old chair, pet beds and a new, two-level scratching post. Their favorite spot is Ace’s dog bed.

To keep my cats entertained, I’ve been making sure to play with them every day. We play chasing and pouncing games so they have less energy for scratching the couch. I’m also trying to rotate their scratching posts to keep things interesting, and to rotate their toys and randomly put treats and catnip on their appropriate scratching and sleeping places.

And obviously I’m keeping their nails clipped.

When we can’t supervise our cats, we put them in our laundry room (their catpartment).We’ve been doing this for months already because Beamer eats everything in sight, and Scout … well, he poops on rugs 🙂

I really don’t believe these attempts will stop them from scratching the couch, but I’ll feel better if I give them this chance.

It does help that Scout and Beamer are 6 and 8 years old – not kittens – and they sleep for a good 19 hours per day.

Isn’t it inhumane to declaw a cat?

You have to decide what is right for you and your cats. There are always going to be people who tell you it’s cruel to declaw a cat. There are always going to be people who believe that declawing an indoor cat is just what you do. Read up on the pros and cons of declawing a cat and discuss it with your cat’s vet.

It’s never made a whole lot of sense to me how some people can be so against declawing cats but so in favor of spaying and neutering cats.

People will use certain points to argue against declawing, but then they will totally ignore those same points when it comes to spaying/neutering.

Here are the most common examples:

Declawing a cat will cause the cat pain.

Yes, declawing a cat causes pain, but so does spaying/neutering a cat. Any surgery will cause at least some amount of pain for an animal.

Declawing a cat is far less invasive than removing her ovaries and uterus, a procedure most cat owners do not think twice about.

Declawing a cat is convenient for the owner.

Of course it’s convenient to own a cat that doesn’t destroy property with his claws. It’s also convenient to own a sterilized cat that doesn’t spray everywhere or go into heat.

Beamer marked in the house right up until the day he was neutered (poor bastard). He will also continue to scratch as long as he has his claws. He’s a cat!

Declawing a cat is not necessary.

Declawing a cat is not necessary, but either is sterilizing a cat.

Some people will argue that spaying/neutering is necessary for controlling the cat population. Controlling the cat population is important, but sterilizing cats is not the only way to accomplish this. Cat owners can prevent unsterilized cats from breeding by keeping them indoors and away from other unsterilized cats.

Others will argue that spaying a cat is necessary because it decreases her risk of mammary gland tumors, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. I’m not convinced this is a real reason to spay every female cat.

Removing body parts such as the ovaries is going to eliminate the chance of future cancer to those body parts. But just because a cat has ovaries does not mean she has a high risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Removing a dog’s ovaries could actually decrease her lifespan, according to research from the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation. And sterilization can contribute to certain cancers in dogs, according to the department of veterinary clinical sciences at Purdue University.

Ted Kerasote, author of “Merle’s Door,” has a book coming out in fall of 2012 called “Why Dogs Die Young,” and it addresses these very issues. I can’t wait to read it.

Pet owners need to look at the pros and cons of sterilizing their animals and declawing their cats and make their own decisions. These are personal choices. What is or isn’t necessary is debatable.

To declaw or not declaw?

Beamer and Scout destroyed one couch over time. They will likely destroy another.

I’m going to give my cats a week or two with the above “behavior modification” plan and then re-visit the declawing issue. I have made up my mind that I am OK getting them declawed if they don’t leave the couch alone.

I love my cats very much. They have a good life.

Scout the gray tabby cat sitting in the living room

Photo by Tawna Whitford

Closeup of creme tabby cat lying on a rug with green eyes - cute!

Photo by Tawna Whitford



Monday 21st of December 2015

I realize this is an OLD post but I'm going to comment anyways. I am an avid animal lover, I always have been. I now have 3 cats (had four but my senior kitty passed away about a month ago, he was 12, I got him as a kitten) All of my cats have been declawed. I always had it done at the same time as their spay/neuter so that way they only underwent anesthetic/recovery once. Do I regret it? Nope not in the least, however I didn't have it done to save the furniture etc. I am a severe diabetic, and cat scratches can cause a multitude of health issues. You are right, it's a personal choice, those who do it do it because they love their pets regardless of what some of the naysayers will say. Mine have been declared but they are also some of the most pampered loved cats you will find. They sleep in our bed, one even under the covers at our feet, they get lots of love/attention. They are well fed, love their treats. Of course they are indoor only, and have zero interest in going outside so there's no basis to the defense mechanism. I'm happy you were able to train your cats so you didn't have to declaw, I just wanted to point out that it isn't always a vanity/convenience thing..... Sometimes it's medical, so those who feel the need to put down those who choose to have this done, needs to consider that they may not know all the reasons behind it.

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 21st of December 2015

Thank you, Crystal! Good example.


Saturday 20th of July 2013

I'd like to chime in that my cat was declawed when she was fixed as a kitten. She never even licked her paws when she came home and has never even noticed she has no claws. She is confident and calm, not fearful. She has zero behavioral issues. She likes to knead and if she had never been declawed she would not be a spoiled princess of a lap cat now because she would claw my stomach, legs and chest up constantly. She has always been indoors and I love her enough to spend thousands of dollars on her for cancer that in the end is going to be fatal anyway, so don't tell me I shouldn't own a cat! It's not about the furniture it's about the humans getting clawed up. I don't know if I will declaw my next pet but if I do, I won't be feeling guilty about it. How many of these "no declaw" people had their sons circumcized in the name of religion or to fit in? Had their baby daughter's ears pierced for looks or had their Doberman's ears and tail docked for looks? got a tattoo or body piercing? It's the same difference. In fact, doing those things is even worse because they serve no purpose accept cosmetics unlike declawing that's about safety and comfort. .

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 21st of July 2013

Yep. I hear ya!


Sunday 17th of February 2013

Honestly, those who say that declawing is purely cosmetic have probably never had babies and kittens at the same time. We've got a 7-month-old baby boy, and we're constantly concerned our cat is going to scratch and seriously hurt him. Babies love to pull fur, and you never know when he might do it when we're not looking... Our baby HUMAN'S safety will always come before any of our cats - yet we love our cats, and want to give them a good loving home, and it's for this reason we're probably going to get our kitten declawed. Oh, and our older cat has been declawed since we got him when he was a kitten. He has been happy and healthy his whole life, is now almost 18, and though he's reaching the end of his life for other reasons (probably diabetes), he's never had any issues with the declawing he went through.


Sunday 17th of February 2013

I would like to add that our older cat is the most gentle, loving cat that we or any of our friends or family has ever met. We're so grateful to be able to have given him a good happy life, because he's given us so much joy!


Thursday 7th of February 2013

I''m DEFINITELY not going to touch John's ignorant comment because it will blow into an argument.

Anyway, I want to share that I own three fat, lazy bum cats who are all a part of my family and well-loved. All three have been declawed. Two were done a few years ago and the third just recently.

I, too, tried everything and couldn't get the destruction under control. I used the surgery as a last result. After reading all of the bad rap on declawing I was worried sick but the entrance of some super expensive furniture urged me onward. My last couch was so shredded it had holes torn in the back of it and the cats used it as a play gym. No matter how much I sprayed them with water they would do it when I wasn't home or at night when I was asleep. Confining them was all I could do to combat it and I didn't like doing it, they hated being stuck in one room.

Each time, the surgery went well. Nothing terrible happened and the cats still act as they did before. They were groggy and out of it when they came home but they did the same thing when they were neutered.

With the proper pain medicine ( many vets WON'T give it unless you ask. I would ask, as any remotely invasive surgery should require pain medications to ease the stress while healing ) they were utterly unaffected.

Today they act like they have their claws and have had NO change in demeanor or personality. I would do it again if I got a fourth cat.

By the way, my cats are INSIDE ONLY. If you let your cat outside it's asking for trouble. Growing up, my family's cats were always inside/outside cats. I learned very early how to deal with pet death, unfortunately. We lived in the city and people would hit them with cars. A kid on a bike even ran one of the cats over. At 16 I watched someone's loose dogs chasing our neighbors orange tabby cat down the alley. When I got home from school I saw the dogs digging in our back yard. I got out of my car and ran over to shoo them off and where I thought a hole would be, was a cat...barely alive and obviously given up. The two labs ( where the heck were the owners!??! ) had finally caught that poor cat and I couldn't even tell it was orange was matted with drool and dirt and almost dead.

It had to be euthanized.

These are just a few of the stories I've witnessed and they will stick with me forever.

As for shelters declawing? If it came to euthanasia or a warm, safe home, how could you not declaw? Some don't want their home slowly destroyed and I know people who choose not to have a cat at all because of it. If more were declawed then they'd be spoiled and happy in these people's homes. More homes=less perfectly good, loving, affectionate cats being put to sleep.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 8th of February 2013

Great discussion, Phoenix. Thank you! Your cats sound very happy!


Thursday 7th of February 2013

To all of you who think declawing is cruel...allowing your cats to run wild, is cruel. They can be shot, hit by cars, pick up diseases, dinner for a predator, target for some creepy kid to shoot at. So, stop being so judgmental, towards someone who is trying to keep her pets inside in a safe environment. I adopted a cat that was declawed on all 4 paws. She was the most precious thing, I have ever owned. She climbed as if she had claws. I played with her daily. I want to adopt another cat, but I had cancer, and I cannot take the chance of getting clawed, by the cat. Believe me, she will be spoiled, loved, and have more attention, than some cat, that is outside, roaming the streets, with their claws. A lot of people hate cats...and when they are out roaming free...they are easy targets for jerks. And, their claws are not gonna save them. So, even if you have claws on your cats, KEEP them Indoors where they will be SAFE!