Declawing Turns Good Cats to Bad

by Lisa James
(Green Cove Springs, FL)

Michael added the picture - Declawing Turns Good Cats to Bad

Michael added the picture - Declawing Turns Good Cats to Bad

I am a cat rescuer. I have worked in the rescue field for 19 years. In that time frame we have had cats from domestic to purebred come through our doors.

99% of declawed cats are turned into animal shelters for one of two behavioral problems. The more rare one is biting. The major one is litter box aversion. Of these cats who will no longer use the box, some can be re-trained, but it takes time, patience, creativity in the owner's imagination, & quite possibly confining in progressively smaller spaces till the cat "gets it" again. Others will never be able to be retrained, despite these methods, & are put to sleep. Ultimately, who's fault is it that these cats who were perfectly behaved BEFORE this paw mutilation surgery turn into "bad" cats? It is NOT the cat's fault, it is the owner's fault who did it to them.

Our rescue, I will come right out & tell you, has put cats down for litterbox problems that could not be retrained after MONTHS of working with them. Why would we put cats down if we are a rescue? Because NO ONE will adopt a cat that will not use the box, no matter how pretty it might be.

We use foster homes, & it is NOT fair to the fosters to have to continually clean up after a cat like this, especially when they have their own personal pets, & most of them have children as well, & that is unsanitary for the children.

The cats could be caged, but it is also NOT fair to the cat to live the rest of it's life locked in a cage with no contact other than to clean a cage floor, change food & water, & give it an occasional bath when it soils itself.

We have a Persian here now that is a front declaw. She will not for the life of her use any sort of regular litterbox, but she WILL use newspapers on the floor. I have her listed on our websites as adoptable, & paper trained like a toy dog. Hopefully someone will be willing to deal with her paper quirk, & adopt her anyway.

Europe has a wonderful policy. It is ILLEGAL over there to declaw cats. The AVMA needs to quit worshipping the Almighty Dollar & do what's BEST for the animals in their care, which would to promote banning of this horrific practice. It would result in many LESS cats in shelters, & with many less in shelters, the country-wide euthanasia rates would go down.


Declawing Turns Good Cats to Bad

Comments for
Declawing Turns Good Cats to Bad

Click here to add your own comments

Nov 16, 2009 Declawed Cats DO SCRATCH!
by: M West

I could not agree more about how horrible this common procedure is. What's more, I had an Aunt with the most psychotic cat I've ever known. What would you know, the poor thing was declawed. Because he was most likely in pain and didn't have normal behavior after this mutilation, when he felt threatened he would roll over on his back and show his belly.

My grandmother, thinking he was being playful and wanted to be petted, reached out to give him a tummy rub. The poor thing, not having any normal way to warn her that he wanted to be left alone, grabbed her arm and raked the bottom of my grandmother's forearm over and over again with his back claws.

As any cat owner is aware, these back claws are often significantly longer, duller, and dirtier than the carefully sharpened front claws of a healthy cat. The wound was horrific. Far worse than the typical swat an antisocial cat would deal when cornered, if they would even stay rather than leave the bed to avoid conflict.

Declawing won't save your kids from a cat scratch or bite, let alone all the physical, psychological, and behavioral problems you are forcing on your pet. Its simply a matter of teaching your kids and cats some guidelines and manners!

Oct 03, 2009 The Paw Project
by: Susan

We do thankfully have the Paw Project, an organized group in California that campaigns against declawing lead by veterinarian Jennifer Conrad.

Their grassroots efforts have led to sucessfully banning domestic cat declawing in W.Hollywood, CA and making it illegal to declaw big cats under USDA jurisdiction.

Dr. Conrad actually exposed the crippling effects of declawing big cats on a popular prime time TV show (Extreme Makeover) a few months ago, it was quite powerful. She showed a declaw repair surgery for a tiger whose paws were completely mangled from being mutilated.

But we need more exposure! More people yelling from the rooftops! None of the big Animal Welfare Organizations (HSUS) or Animal Rights groups have made it a priority to protect cats from this blatant animal cruelty. Disgusting!

Oct 03, 2009 Comes to Mind
by: Michael

You know what comes to my mind? It is that as far as I know there is no coordinated body of people (a committee or action group) who are campaigning against declawing. There are individuals but not a body of people that I know of. On the opposite side there is the AVMA, a well oiled and wealthy machine.

I think there is a need for a committee and a campaign which starts with irrefutable data collected scientifically so no double talking vet can wriggle out of it.

And then we get it on TV and on to the street.

One last thing. There are vets who oppose declawing. Some voted against their own organization CVMA California Veterinary Medical Association on the ban. Shouldn't we tie up with them? They should have good insider knowledge.

Oct 03, 2009 There are no bad cats - they are victims
by: Barbara

I think maybe we want a high profile person who DOESN'T support declawing to help us, though who I wouldn't like to suggest, you just can't get to them!

I agree that US citizens need to do practical things like get out on the streets (that's one thing we can't help with) but I think Everycat's idea is really, really good. One of the strongest pro-declaw arguments is that available data is years out of date, if we could fight them with 2008/9 statistics it would be a veritable golden hand grenade to lob at them.

I for one, and I'm sure Kattddorra for two, would be willing to help in any was I could with the project because it would be huge but oh so valuable.

Oct 03, 2009 Come on Lumley
by: Michael

Come on Lumley the cats of the United States of America need you....

Who else likes cats who is really high profile?

Oct 03, 2009 High profile cat lover
by: Ruth aka Kattaddorra

Where are you Joanna Lumley ?????
We've tried since last November to get high profile cat lovers on our side,a few have signed our petition but that's it.
A few of us have emailed Oprah Winfrey too but no results. It would be great to have declawing education featured on her show.

Oct 03, 2009 More clout
by: Michael

I agree we need more clout. I think a high profile person who supports declawing and who is willing to stick his/her neck out should be recruited! If we can get him or her.

Such a person can get heard and listened to and get on TV etc.

We certainly need to (a) make more noise (b) produce solid irrefutable evidence as it is muddy (b) get a high profile person (c) do work on the ground protesting and (d) support the beginnings of a change in the law in the USA. I believe things are just beginning to change but it needs support to grow.

Oh, I forgot, we could clip the ends of the fingers off a few vets while we are at it.

Oct 03, 2009 Litter Types I've Tried for Declaws
by: Lisa James

I personally will not use a pellet based litter for a declawed cat or a silicon crystal type. The size, shape & texture is too hard for them, especially if they are a non litterbox using declaw that comes in. Heck, even my normal cats can't stand the feel of pellets under their feet. I did try Yesterday's News, once, years ago. YUCK. It smelled awful, & it was nasty to try & clean. No thanks, but I appreciate the recommendation, LOL.

I have used puppy pads, which are both soft & absorbent, as well as easy to clean up & dispose of. I have used Feline Fresh, which is super soft, absorbent, & has absolutely NO smell, which is what I'm currently using for all of my cats in all of my boxes. I have used small animal bedding, which is soft & fluffy, absorbent, & lightweight. Inconvenient because you really can't scoop it. I've used cedar shavings, excellent for odor control, soft, absorbent, lightweight, cheap, & relatively easy to clean. I have used Cat Attract litter, which is specially formulated for cats with litterbox problems. That I've had "iffy" results with. Plain newspaper on the floor works not quite as well as puppy pads, because it's not absorbent, & it smells when it's wet, as well as having the annoying tendency to fall apart when you're transporting it to the trash bin.

Ultimately I think you just have to experiment, & see what works best for your particular declaw, & above all, BE PATIENT when you are working with a cat like this. Sometimes you have to try for months before you give up & resort to putting them down.

I would love to see a study done, & would be more than willing to participate in it.

Oct 03, 2009 How can we help ?
by: Ruth aka Kattaddorra

I understand what you are saying Jane and I agree but I'm totally lost as to how we'd go about it ! I'm willing to do anything at all to help.

Oct 03, 2009 How were battles won in history?
by: Anonymous

Yes to protest, but how? I am in the UK, so are Ruth, Babz and Michael. Street protest in America? Yes. But who is going to do it? I am getting weary of the confusion that abounds and directionless nature of what we do. How were battles in history won? Not from one single approach surely? I'm no historian but I know that Generals who adopts a multi-pronged attack have more success than those who just fire one gun at the temple from one direction.

I'm offering to set up and run a scientifically valid study (because no one has done one using a significant population size for this issue before - if anyone knows of one, please show me?) I have a scientist here who would help me.

Why am I bothering to offer to do this? Because I cannot get out on the streets of America to protest. Even if I could, there's such a dearth of scientifically valid data on the damage declawing does to cats, that street stalls we set up would have a very big gap in what we could offer people. Yes, people respond viscerally to the issue, but many need more than photographs and anecdotal reports of the barbarism.

I notice how savvy the average punter has become when we comment against declawing making our "internet noise" - we get requests, nay! demands! for actual data - valid data, data that is devoid of emotion - it's hard to find, it's hard to present. To be able to point the doubters and the pro-declaw brigade to a valid study using a large population sample would surely be persuasive - both at street level and at the higher eschelons, which is where we really need to be present too.

I am not decrying any of our efforts, but we need a bigger hammer to make a bigger clout.

The AVMA isn't a governing body, it's a trade body. Yes they can set the environmental practice culture, but at the end of the day, they are still openly, just a trade body. I believe they are subscribed to by some 30 odd university veterinary schools in America, we need to make inroads into the birthplaces of veterinary careers. We need those universities to take notice of the horrific outcome of declawing cats. We need them on board.

Attack from the bottom.
Attack from the top

My offer isn't just ramping up the signal to noise ratio on the net. It's a genuine offer, but I can't do it alone, nor can I do it when we are like a diaspora with purpose, but no agreed method.


Oct 03, 2009 Protesting !
by: Ruth aka Kattaddorra

Yes Michael you are right,I've said that before too, that's exactly what is needed,the anti declaw people in the USA to get out on the streets educating everyone and protesting about the lily livered AVMA, but not many will do it !
It's no good us doing it in England and we can't just go off to the USA and do it for them.
Having stalls set up on the streets does work, we've done it here for protests against vivisection, fox hunting, etc etc. Lots of people come to the stall and ask what it's about, sign petitions,etc.
It's so frustrating it's not happening there !No one dares stand up against the AVMA and the corrupt vets,not even people with cats killed by declawing.So they get away with it and so it goes on ...and on ...and on ...

Oct 03, 2009 Evidence
by: Michael

Jane has a good point. There is a lot of misinformation used by vets to support declawing and the classic story is that declawing helps to save the lives of cats.

If that can be disproved with sound evidence it would help. It wouldn't be enough though because these people, the ones who worship the god money and who disrespect nature and cats need their backsides kicked.

We need to protest in the streets, I think. March - create some on-the-ground noise rather than just internet noise.

Oct 03, 2009 Great article, thank you.
by: Everycat

Lisa, this article really brings home the awful truth of the reality for so many cats who have been crippled by this reprehensible surgery. It carries so much weight because you are on the front line, you are dealing with the end result of the hateful apathy of pet carers who cannot be bothered to even consider the needs of their animals above their own.

Would a formal six month study run over say 100 shelters/rescue organisations, keeping records of every cat relinquished, reasons for relinquishment, behavioural issues observed and declaw status along with a record of those cats returned, reasons why and the final outcome for those cats help in the battle to get this surgery banned?

If there's any way we could organise this, I'd be willing to put together the record system and collate the results for analysis. I'm in the UK, but I have a scientist as a partner who knows about putting together formal studies.

Surely a properly run study would be fine evidence to present to the AVMA and every State Board in the states?

What do you think?


Oct 03, 2009 Pain from declawing
by: Ruth aka Kattaddorra

Michael is right ! Also cats never forget the first agony of walking and of digging in their litter tray with their stumps just after declawing.They have no choice but to go on walking of course, but they do have the choice to use the carpet or soft furnishings to soil on rather than use the litter tray.That's why so many declawed cats end up in Shelters, because the very people who created the problem by having them declawed, then call them 'bad dirty cats'
A person who had their finger ends amputated would be doped and nursed through the terrible pain and the phantom pain afterwards and would be classed as disabled for life. Some cats don't even have pain medication after coming home from declawing, which is multiple amputation of their 'finger ends' because some vets charge extra for this and many people don't know that cats hide their pain, as to a cat it's a sign of weakness.
It's heartbreaking to think of cats every day suffering and bewildered as to what has happened to them.
Declawing cats is a very very cruel operation and needs to be made illegal worldwide.

Oct 02, 2009 Litter and declawing
by: Michael (PoC Admin)

As I understand it declawed cats don't like using regular litter because it plain hurts. This is because fragments of bone are left in the paw after declawing that make walking on a rough surface such as litter, painful. Newspaper is smooth and they can avoid discomfort.

Declawing is a totally hopeless concept at every level and cynically cruel.

P.S. to the person suggesting that this should be on Yahoo Answers, I reject that because this site is about cats and it is a cat charity. It gave $400 USD away last month to a rescue centre in Malta (see donations). Yahoo don't do that. They use people to produce content for them for profit.

Oct 02, 2009 declawing
by: kathy

I too had a similar experience with my sons cat. We had her declawed because we were not educated on this subject. When we brought her home she was so mad she hid behind the refrigerator and hissed at us as if she didn't know us. her whole personality changed. We were sorry and know I know better. I hate the thought of any cat being declawed.

Probably declawed cats don't like the feel of the litter on their feet without their claws. Have you tried any paper based cat litter such as yesterdays news?

Oct 02, 2009 Makes me cry.
by: Kelly Baez

I still don't get it. I can't understand if you are not willing to train, to deal with eventual scratches in your furniture, etc... then you are not ready to have a cat.

Is like having a baby and expect the baby behaves as a totally educated adult.

this is nonsense!

Oct 02, 2009 Thank You Lisa!
by: Susan

Thank You for exposing this tragedy. I agree 110% with everything that you say as the founder of my own TNR rescue network.

The help requests for de-clawed cats with issues far outweigh the requests for clawed cats from owners.

We have vets here that encourage de-clawing & actually have rescues that de-claw their cats prior to adoption because it's what the "adopter wants", only concerned with the short term view of "getting" a cat out of their rescue and into a home, not "keeping" them there, which creates a burden on us all in the long term.

None of our big shelters (NONE!) give out education about claw care, even a pamphlet on nail trimming would go a long way. No one is (purposely) tracking how many declawed cats end up relinquished or killed. Even the National Council of Pet Population doesn't track how many clawed vs. declawed cats end up in shelters in their relinquishment surveys.

And we know it's not in the best interest of a vet's back pocket to track how many of their declawed patients end up relinquished or killed, cuz the TRUTH HURTS!

It's due time for a national education campaign about this (I've asked HSUS many times to do this w/no response) although I don't believe that education is enuf, legislation has to happen.

The euthanasia rates have dropped significantly with the huge national spay/neuter campaigns, but nothing has ever been done for de-clawing - the numbers speak for themselves - currently 3 to 4 million pets euthanized in US shelters (I think 2.5 are cats) and 14 million cats declawed (although I think that is a gross under-estimate & a number the AVMA manipulated).

On a pawsitive note, the anti-declaw movement has made GREAT strides since I've gotten involved in the fight yrs ago, and The Paw Project is leading the way, plus many other devoted advocates who want this needless suffering to end. Bless you for getting the word out! Check out my websites if you have time:


Celebrate ~^..^~ Claws!

p.s. I am not making light of how many pets are killed in shelters, I've worked in humane shelters myself & have seen the darkness, plus have credit card debt up to my eye-balls from spaying & neutering other peoples cats!


Oct 02, 2009 People don't know
by: Ruth aka Kattaddorra

Liisa, you didn't know did you? And that's the trouble, if people aren't told what declawing really means and the dreadful consequences it can have, they have no way of knowing.

Most people have no reason to mistrust their vet, so if he/she recommends declawing, people naturally think it's no big deal. A person trained to help animals wouldn't do it if it was cruel, is an argument many pro declaws use. But these money grabbing unfeeling vets WOULD do it and they DO!

You are a HUGE asset to us to educate people before they have their cat declawed, you can tell people from personal experience how you regret it. AND you do as I've seen your brilliant posts on declaw questions!!!

You'll save many cats that way I'm sure!
I wish we had a way of reaching every single cat owner in the USA,to educate them. I wish we had more people like you, educating people out there where you live, as well as here online!

You are doing great work, DO NOT beat yourself up any more !!

Oct 02, 2009 I'm just beside myself here with such shock!
by: Loca Liisa A.K.A. Liisa

I get more and more ashamed of myself damnit! I wish I could take back time and I would have never ever have declawed my little one. I can not believe the outcome of most of these cats who get this amputational surgery. Actually, all of the Cats...excuse me.

They all suffer so terribly. Somethng needs to be done. What... I don't know but we need to turn the heat up on our government to see such cruelties done to our Feline friends. We need articles like these for people to understand the outcome of this surgery and the fate of our Cats. I could not imagine being a cat and having this done to me. It would be so devastating.

I don't even know what else to say. Just so very very sad. Pour little babies. Nice article Lisa. You should post this on Yahoo Answers.

Oct 02, 2009 A strong argument
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Thank you, Lisa, for this article, which makes a very strong argument against declawing. I believe most here already agree that this cruel practice should be outlawed everywhere, but in the light of what you just told, let us considered it's practical value once more.

1) Declawed cats do not scratch their owners, but there's a increased risk they will bite instead. I'd much rather have a few scratches than a cat bite. Also see 'Declawing? Why not detoothing as well?'

2) Most cats have no problem using a litterbox - from what I've heard even ferrals will instinctly know what it's for. To declaw and risk spoiling this most useful instinct is plain stupid.

Declawing should be advertised like this: "This operation may cause your kitty to bite your children and s*** in your sofa"

Oct 02, 2009 Declaw & Shelter Statistics
by: Lisa James


Thank you for the opportunity to present the real side of the story. Those organizations that you speak of that promote declaw as a way to KEEP cats from being abandoned don't see the increasing numbers of owner surrendered cats that ARE declaws.

In my local animal control alone, outside of the ferals, which are the VAST majority of cats in shelters, comprising fully over 90% of shelters' country wide of their cat population & therefore padding the euthanasia rates, the remaining cats are owner surrenders.

We've learned to interpret the "reasons" for surrenders. With a declawed cat, the reasons are always the same. Either "won't use the box", or "can't take care of". Can't take care of is another euphemism for won't use the box, but those people don't have the balls to admit up front what the cat's problem is.

When we retrieved Thomas after 3 years, the people who dumped HIM had declawed him, & the reason on his surrender sheet was "can't take care of". He didn't use the box when he first came home, but he's started using it again now.

The new girl down there that was surrendered 2 days ago is a declaw, & her reason for surrender is "can't take care of". How much do you want to wager that outside of the little cage she's currently in, that when she gets into a home, they will find that she won't use the box?

I firmly maintain that if we do away with declawing, that people will find that they will have many less behavioral issues with their cats, & more cats will stay IN their homes.


Oct 02, 2009 Terrible !
by: Ruth aka Kattadorra

That is terible, what sort of people work at those vets surgeries ? There was only one time when I was vet nursing someone asked me about declawing their cat (before it was illegal here) and when she wouldn't believe me that it was a cruel mutilation I called the head vet through, he soon put her wise, being a very forthright Scot he didn't mince his words!

I don't know how any person who professes to love animals enough to work with them can stand by and let it go on!!

We had another alert this week from a lady who had phoned to book in her 2 cats for neutering at a clinic in Florida and was offered declawing as a package deal. Thankfully she'd done her research and refused. I advised her to find another vets practice where they never declaw because we've heard of cases where the vets are so used to declawing while neutering they make a 'mistake' and declaw the cats anyway.

I've also read that some of these vets prefer declawed cats as when they go in for treatments they only have biting to worry about while examining them, they won't get scratched too.

What sort of people prefer treating disabled cats!!! It is disgusting!!! But no one will speak out, the AVMA are so very powerful that people are scared to make a complaint. We always ask them to, but so far no one has.

There needs to be a far reaching education programme over the whole of the USA. We have saved 69 cats on Yahoo Answers but that's a minuscule proportion of the cats suffering and about to suffer because people just don't know what declawing really means.

Oct 02, 2009 Why Do Vets Still Promote This?
by: Lisa James

Just this week, I was at the vet with a friend's diabetic cat that we are keeping for her while she's on vacation. A phone call came in, & one of the girls answered. It was a person wanting to know how much a spay/declaw surgery cost.

Instead of attempting to educate the person against declawing the cat while they had them on the phone, she had the other tech who was at the computer look up a price, then quoted the person about $100 higher than the price actually WAS, then hung up.

When I asked her why she didn't educate them on the hazards of declawing, she said she was hoping that the exorbitant price she quoted them would make them change their minds, because she doesn't approve of the practice either.

I told her that the person wasn't going to change their mind if they weren't educated, they were simply going to call every vet around until they found someone that would do it at a price they were willing to pay. An aggressive anti-declaw education promotion is what this country NEEDS.

Oct 02, 2009 Declawing is cruel !
by: Ruth aka Kattaddorra

What a brilliant article Lisa and so very true !Even from another country, where declawing is illegal,we are able to find many statistics and true stories of cats suffering from being declawed in the USA and Canada. Anti declaw advocates in the USA have been battling for years to educate people and get it stopped and the truth is so plain to see, yet the AVMA won't see it ! Or they do see it and ignore it.Now even some people who are anti declaw are fighting the cities in California who want it banned.They say they don't want another law.Well there wouldn't have to be another law if vets adhered to the AVMA policy that declawing should be a last resort.The AVMA are apparently above the state laws and could enforce it, so why don't they ?
I know little about UK laws never mind USA laws but I do know that it shouldn't be about politics, it should be about the welfare of cats !
You do a wonderful job Lisa,. it must be heartbreaking to see so many cats through no fault of their own, ending up in your shelter because of the ignorance or cruelty of their 'owners' and we in England won't ever give up helping our USA friends who want this cruel mutilation of cats banned !

Oct 02, 2009 Great article
by: Michael

Lisa thanks for sharing - a great article which is very welcome coming first hand from you who is "on the front line".

Many organisations (even the ones who are supposed to help cats) say that declawing is meant to stop people abandoning cats but you explain why it does the opposite. I'll get back on this again. Thanks Lisa.

This entry was posted in Declawing and tagged by Michael Broad. Bookmark the permalink.

About Michael Broad

Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please try and upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks. Comment rules: (1) respect others (2) threatening, harassing, bullying, insulting and being rude to others is forbidden (3) advocating cat cruelty is forbidden (4) trolls (I know who they are) must use real name and upload a photo of themselves. Enforcement: (1) inappropriate comments are deleted before publication and (2) commenters who demonstrate a desire to flout the rules are banned. Failure to comply with (4) results in non-publication. Lastly, please avoid adding links because spam software regards comments with links as spam and holds them in the spam folder. I delete the spam folder contents daily.