Declawed cats do not have more behavioral problems than cats with claws. Discuss.

It is claimed in a series of studies around 2015 that declawing did not alter the behaviour of domestic cats. In fact, the operation pleased the owners and it helped to prevent the abandonment of those cats to shelters. I would like to quote a few of those studies and then discuss the results.

Please read the whole article. I am publishing this to provide a balanced viewpoint. Personally, I hate the operation as it is anthropocentric (human-centered) and cruel.

It is an operation of convenience and it is degrading for the cat BUT I respect the views of others and must represent them. There are many declawing articles on this site; all are against it 💔. The cracked heart emoji represents the broken relationship between cat and owner when the cat is declawed by the owner.

Not prone to more problems

The title to this article more or less comes from a study published in 2015: Feline Behaviour Problems: The Influence of Declawing by Melanie Morgan and Katherine Houpt.

The interesting point that comes out of this study is this: “A significantly greater percentage of declawed cats, as compared to intact cats, was reported to jump on counters or tables.” I don’t know if this is significant and I can’t think of a connection between declawing and jumping on counters.

The other major finding in respect of declawed cats was “that declawed cats are not prone to have more problems than do clawed cats.” Thais appears quite definitive. These scientists are saying that declawed cats behaved entirely normally and there were no negative consequences from declawing in terms of bad cat behaviour.

Not prone to biting

In a write-up of “Feline behaviour and welfare” by Garry Landsberg BSC, DVM, there is a segment on declawing and how it affects behaviour. He refers to studies conducted in the late 1980s. He says that “Studies performed to date, whether declawing causes an increase in behavioural problems has been examined. In each study, declawing was shown not to alter the cats’ behaviour. In fact, cats continue to scratch furniture after declawing, but did not cause substantial damage. In a study of more than 850 cats, declawed cats were no more likely to bite than were clawed cats. Results of declawing successfully met or surpassed the owner’s expectations for all cats, and more than 70% of the cat owners indicated that the cat-owner relationship improved following declawing. In a study of veterinarians in Ontario, it was estimated that more than 50% of owners of declawed cats would not have owned or kept their cat had those cats not been declawed.”

Comment: that paints a very positive view of cat declawing. There is nothing but benefit there for the owner and even for the cats because it prevented the abandonment of those cats. Being naturally cynical I wonder is this vet is biased in favour of declawing in order to support the practice and thereby assist vets make more money.

Declawed shelter cats not adopted

A further study titled: “Declawing has no effect on biting behaviour but does affect adoption outcomes for domestic cats in an animal shelter” is worth referring to.

This study makes the very interesting observation that shelters did not have a lot of declawed cats as might be expected if the declawing had caused behavioural problems in those cats and the cats abandoned as a consequence. And they found that there was “no significant correlation between declawing and biting behaviour”. They are saying that when a cat has been declawed, they do not bite more than a cat with claws, which is a claim made by people who object to declawing.

Also, they found that declawed cats stayed a lot longer in shelters than cats that were not declawed. Comment: this indicates that people who go to a shelter to adopt a cat object to cat declawing. This might be because they don’t like it on principle by which I mean moral issues or they have read about declawing and how it affects cat behaviour and come away with a negative viewpoint.

Owners of declawed cats are happy

A further study entitled: “Cat Owners’ Attitudes toward Declawing“, has some more interesting observations. All of them are positive about declawing. They said that, “Of the 276 owners of declawed cats surveyed for the study, all stated that declawing successfully met their objectives, and in many cases additional benefits were listed as well. Ninety-six percent of owners had a positive a very positive attitude about declawing and 70% reported that they had an improved relationship with their cat. Forty percent of the cats were allowed outside without problems after declawing but they found that cats declawed after one year of age had higher incidences of postsurgical discomfort and took longer to recover.

Back pain and botched operations

A further study contradicts some of his earlier findings. This study is titled: “Pain and adverse behaviour in declawed cats“. The conclusions were that, “Declawing cats increases the risk of unwanted behaviours and may increase risk for developing back pain. Evidence of inadequate surgical techniques were common in the study population. Among declawed cats, retained P3 fragments further increased the risk of developing back pain and adverse behaviours. The use of optimal surgical technique does not eliminate the risk of adverse behaviour subsequent to onychectomy (declawing)”.

Comment: this study reinforces the belief that declawing does affect behaviour and it can result in long-term pain. It also confirms what I’ve been told before that many declawing operations are botched living fragments of bone in the paw which cause pain and therefore affects their behaviour and their gait. It has to be said that it is very hard to reconcile this study which was published in 2017 with the others because if a cat is in pain it must affect to some extent the behaviour.

For example, it might make the cats averse to using the litter tray because the substrate is rough causing pain in their paws. This may lead to inappropriate elimination. And if a cat has to alter the way they walk it can have knock-on effects throughout their body’s joints and muscles.

Veterinarians want a ban

In a further study entitled: “Cat Declaw Bans Help Both Cats and Veterinarians“, the author of the study came to the conclusion that “a majority of 1200 veterinarians surveyed support legislative bans on declawing”. The survey found that most veterinarians in America want a ban on declawing which I find extraordinary bearing in mind that it takes a ban the stop declawing. If most veterinarians disagree with declawing, why don’t they just stop of their own volition? The study was published in 2023.

I think it is reasonable to believe that over the past six or seven years, there has been a change in attitude toward declawing and I would argue an enlightenment about the operation. This enlightenment has led to a greater number of cat owners in America and veterinarians disliking the operation.

Ethics

More importantly, and this is something that the scientists have never addressed, it is an immoral, unethical operation because it’s in violation of the veterinarian’s oath not to cause harm as the operation is conducted nearly every time for non-therapeutic reasons.

The moral dimension to declawing is a far greater factor in deciding whether it is right or wrong than any other aspect of the operation. If it is simply cruel, immoral and unethical then it must be bad and it must be banned.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

63 jurisdictions specifically ban cat declawing (Dec 2023)

There are 63 jurisdictions where cat declawing is specifically banned in their legislation. You can almost certainly count in many more because umbrella animal welfare laws would ban cat declawing for non-therapeutic purposes. The 63 jurisdictions where declawing is banned would allow declawing for therapeutic i.e. for health reasons. That’s an important point.

Tacoma, Washington is the latest jurisdiction to ban declawing. It is the first Washington city to do it. Their addition to the list makes 15 US cities where cat declawing is banned. By ‘jurisdiction’ I mean a municipality where administrators have the authority to make laws that don’t conflict with federal laws or they are the federal law.

“I’m incredibly proud that the City Council has passed this ban on nontherapeutic cat declawing and that Tacoma takes animal welfare issues seriously. We have received an incredible outpouring of support from the community for this ban.”

Tacoma Council member John Hines

You can’t simply ban all forms of cat declawing because exceptionally rarely it is required in the interests of the patient. 99.9% of cat declawing is conducted against cats for nontherapeutic reasons and at the convenience of the owner in order to protect furniture or because they are frightened of claws.

I will do my best to update the page as when required.

  • 1-16 – Cities and towns in the USA
  • 17-54 – Countries
  • 55-63 – Provinces in Canada

List

  1. Allentown, Pennsylvania
  2. Austin, Texas
  3. Berkeley, California
  4. Beverly Hills, California
  5. Burbank, California
  6. Culver City, California
  7. Denver, Colorado
  8. Los Angeles, California
  9. Madison, Wisconsin
  10. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  11. St. Louis County, Missouri
  12. St. Louis, Missouri
  13. San Francisco, California
  14. Santa Monica, California
  15. Tacoma, Washington
  16. West Hollywood, California
  17. Australia
  18. Austria
  19. Belgium
  20. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  21. Brazil
  22. Bulgaria
  23. Cyprus
  24. The Czech Republic
  25. Denmark (does not apply to Greenland or the Faroe Islands)
  26. England
  27. Finland
  28. France
  29. Germany
  30. Greece
  31. Ireland
  32. Israel
  33. Italy
  34. Latvia
  35. Lithuania
  36. Luxembourg
  37. Macedonia
  38. Malta
  39. Montenegro
  40. The Netherlands
  41. New Zealand
  42. Northern Ireland
  43. Norway
  44. Portugal
  45. Romania
  46. Scotland
  47. Serbia
  48. Slovenia
  49. Spain
  50. Sweden
  51. Switzerland
  52. Turkey
  53. Ukraine
  54. Wales
  55. Alberta
  56. British Columbia
  57. Manitoba
  58. New Brunswick
  59. Newfoundland and Labrador
  60. Nova Scotia
  61. Prince Edward Island
  62. Saskatchewan
  63. Québec (effective February 2024)

The sad aspect of this list is that is has to be a list. It would be so much better if the US federal government banned cat declawing in one fell swoop. Over done with. Sadly that is not going to happen. The vets continue to fight teeth and claw (excuse the pun) to retain the right to mutilate kittens at the convenience of miguided cat owners.

The list is courtesy PETA who extremely helpfully keep it up to date. Many thanks. It will need up dating as bans spread out across America.

What is cat declawing? A lot of people are unsure but if they knew how cruel it is they’d not do do it. Here is a picture which explains it. It entails 10 amputations! Yes, 10. Imagine what that’s like for a kitten. Totally shock. A kind of hell when you consider the claw is a vital part of the cat’s anatomy. And they walk on their toes as digitigrades. Horrible and many vets support the operation for non-therapeutic purposes in a complete derogation of their oath which is in tatters.

Image by MikeB.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

The good human face of an anti-declaw politician

I’m speaking about Gwendolyn Wallace Gooditis. She is an American real estate agent and politician. She is a Democrat and was elected to represent Virginia’s 10th House of Delegates district in the Virginia House of Delegates. I bet she is a good real estate agent because she looks so honest.

It’s nice to have a politician representing you who has a good face. This article is about the anatomy of a “good face”. And Gwendolyn has proposed a new law for the state of Virginia which bans the declawing of cats. A good face behind a good deed.

Gwendolyn W. "Wendy" Gooditis
Gwendolyn W. “Wendy” Gooditis. Image: Change.org/Paw Project.

This woman is involved in all kinds of good deeds so her desire to ban cat declawing in Virginia is just one string to her bow.

The soul shines through the face

But looking at her photograph – and I have also watched her talk on video – she undeniably has a kind and yet determined face.

It is hard to pin down how personality comes through in a person’s face. But in my opinion, it does. I’m hardly relying upon research for this article because it’s difficult to find hard facts on the topic.

I’m not talking about a symmetrical face or a smiling face. I’m not talking about a temporary adjustment to a face’s anatomy but something much more profound. Something that comes from within, and which is the person’s character made visible in their face.

You’ll see the opposite effect in equal measure. People who are mean and nasty have faces which do not hide this characteristic.

I discovered one thing this morning which is this: there is a science called Physiognomy which is about determining through the analysis of facial features a person’s personality.

I didn’t know that so clearly science agrees that there is a connection between facial features and personality.

Jordan Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist and philosopher who is all over YouTube, believes that successful people are often disagreeable. They don’t mind being disagreeable. Perhaps they have to be disagreeable. And testosterone can be seen in facial features I believe in producing a squarer face which is associated with dominance.

And the concept of dominance is not going to be interpreted as kind. So perhaps testosterone plays a role in a purely physical way. And I guess, too, the kind of facial expressions that a person habitually makes in their day-to-day life affects how their face is interpreted by those who see it.

But you don’t have to be disagreeable to be successful as evidenced by Gwendolyn.

But I do believe there’s more. As mentioned, there is something deeper which is intangible, and which perhaps can’t be explained by science. Perhaps it is to do with the soul of a person which can be glimpsed in their face.

And Gwendolyn Wallace Gooditis has that kind of face. She isn’t the only one! I just happened to immediately notice it when I wrote an article about banning cat declawing in Virginia. You can read that article if you wish by clicking on this link.

Banning declawing no hugely popular in American politics

To propose a ban on declawing in an entire US state is not the most popular piece of legislation that you can introduce. Cat declawing in the US is very entrenched. Many people don’t see anything wrong with it despite it being barbaric, brutal and entirely unnecessary in 99.9% of cases. These are cases when it is carried out for non-therapeutic purposes. It is much more than ‘declawing’.

Horribly harmful declawing

But Republicans are business orientated and they would support veterinarians who want to declaw cats as it turns a good profit, whereas, as you might expect, Gwendolyn is a Democrat. The shocking thing about cat declawing is that the veterinarians want to do it. Not all of them but a huge number. They’ve completely forgotten their oath to do no harm to their patients.

And believe me, cat declawing does a lot of harm to a young cat which lasts throughout their life often. And there are tens of thousands of botched declawing operations because they are carried out too quickly leaving shards of bone left in the paw causing constant pain affecting gait, causing depression, causing arthritis, ruining lives actually.

A lot of people don’t know this, and a lot of people don’t care but Gwendolyn knows this, and she cares because she has the personality to care about these things and it shows in her face.

Attractive faces

There appears to have been something that I missed when I first wrote the article. It’s whether the attractiveness or otherwise of a face has an influence on the impression that it makes to others.

Along those lines, there is an interesting article in The Sunday Times today by Dominic Lawson who suggests that Rishi Sunak’s appearance (UK Prime Minister) will help make him successful at the next election in two years’ time.

Apparently, attractive people tend to get better assessments if they are a teacher and teachers give attractive schoolchildren better assessments than those that are less attractive. It seems that success is partly dependent upon the attractiveness of appearance.

Knowing that, and accepting that it is superficial, I wonder whether a ‘good face’ as I have called it need to be an attractive face. Can an unattractive face be a good face? I would say definitely yes, and I certainly hope so because I wouldn’t like to think that the world is that superficial.

P.S. Please share your thoughts on good human faces.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Infographic on US state of Virginia poised to ban cat declawing (the third state)

Virginia poised to ban declawing Nov 19, 2022
Virginia poised to ban declawing Nov 19, 2022. Infographic by MikeB.

To anyone who cares anything about animal welfare this is great news. Great credit must be given to the politician who is introducing the proposed legislation (see infographic). The declawing of cats, for non-therapeutic reasons, in America and to a lesser extent in Canada is one of the world’s greatest examples of violence against animals, in all of the planet’s history. Millions of kittens have been brutally injured. It is horrendous and the world’s greatest veterinarian/author, Dr Bruce Fogle, bravely describes it as ‘barbaric’ in one of his many excellent books.

Other British veterinarians keep quiet about it to their shame. If vets keep quiet about it, they are unwittingly supporting it. They are accomplices to the crime and believe me it is a crime in over 30 countries. It is just that America is out of step with the world. But they are gradually catching up. In the meantime, millions of kittens continue to be brutally injured, and it is legal. The exact same operation would be entirely illegal (criminal) if it was carried out for non-therapeutic purposes (99.9% are) in other countries.

Please sign the change.org petition.

This is the woman who is proposing the Virginia ban:

Gwendolyn W. "Wendy" Gooditis
Gwendolyn W. “Wendy” Gooditis. Image: Change.org/Paw Project.

Here are some more articles on the complications of cat declawing:

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

California is going to ban the declawing of cats for non-therapeutic purposes (God willing)

NEWS AND COMMENT-CALIFORNIA, USA: The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the legislature of California is debating a ban on declawing cats for non-therapeutic purposes. In other words, if this bill passes into law the citizens of California will no longer be able to take their cat to a veterinarian for the removal of their cat’s claws at their convenience. Veterinarians will only be able to declaw a cat if it is in the interests of the cat’s health and welfare. At the moment, as you no doubt know, nearly every declawing operation in America is for non-therapeutic purposes. The necessity of declawing a cat for therapeutic purposes is very rare.

California Legislature
California Legislature. Pic in public domain.

For years, animal activists and animal advocates have been pressing lawmakers in any state of the USA to enact laws which ban declawing. It has been a struggle from the onset because of the continual resistance to a ban on declawing by the American Veterinary Medical Association because their members need to declaw cats to keep up their profit margins. They carry out the operation very quickly and often it is botched. It is botched far more often than you could possibly imagine according to my information. Even if it wasn’t botched it would be barbaric and that word is not chosen by me but by the UK’s number one veterinarian and author, Dr. Bruce Fogle.

63% of declawed cats have bone fragments in their toes. Go figure how that feels.

Anyway, back to this bill which excites me tremendously. The bill (a law which is being debated and which may one day become enacted to be an act or statute) is online and you can see it by clicking on this link. It is called rather blandly: An act to add Section 31755 to the Food and Agricultural Code, relating to animals.

Primatologist Jane Goodall famously said:

“Cruelty is the worst of human sins.”

Cat declawing for non-therapeutic purposes is clearly cruel.

Pet Rescue and Adoption Act - Assembly Bill 485
Calif Legislature

The bill tells us that declawing in Calif. is already prohibited on exotic or native wild cat species. That’s interesting because the lawmakers have seen fit to ban declawing of wild cats but not of domestic cats. That is an obvious anomaly which has to be rectified. They’ve done it by adding in some extra legislation: Section 31755 is added to the Food and Agricultural Code, to read…

The bill is described as follows in the introduction:

“This bill would prohibit a person from performing surgical claw removal, declawing, or a tendonectomy on any cat or otherwise altering a cat’s toes, claws, or paws to prevent or impair the normal function of the cat’s toes, claws, or paws, except for a therapeutic purpose. The bill would subject a person that violates that prohibition to specified civil penalties.”

It is proposed that a violation of the law if and when it is enacted and is in force would attract a $500 fine for the first violation and a $1000 fine for the second violation. A third and subsequent violation would attract a $2500 fine.

There are a number of cities in California which have already banned declawing. For that reason, the bill has a section which states that this statute which will be state-wide does not conflict with existing laws in certain cities. In fact, there are eight Californian cities where declawing is banned including Los Angeles and San Francisco. Apparently, Republican Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger at the time prevented a law coming into force in California in 2008 which would have stopped local governments from banning declawing.

The shocking images of a declawed cat

There are countless good reasons to ban declawing for non-therapeutic purposes. It causes enormous pain, it can disable a cat, it can cause lifelong physical and mental health problems. It is unnecessary. It is immoral to do it at the convenience of the cat’s owner. The operation is not part of the agreement that we have with domestic cats in which they keep us company and entertain us and we look after them.

Picture and words which explain why toes are so important to domestic cats and why they should not be mutilated by veterinarians under the banner ‘declawing’

This bill now heads to the state Senate. New York state was the first to ban declawing on a state-wide basis. Maryland followed early in 2022. It is California’s lawmakers’ fourth attempt at banning declawing since 2018 apparently.

Declawing is banned either directly or indirectly in about 36 countries. America is out of step especially as they are a cat loving country. It is an anomaly. It is an aberration. It should never have been created in the first place.

Declawing banned in many countries
Declawing banned in many countries. The image is by Ruth aka Kattaddorra, a UK animal advocate.

Below are some more pages on the complications encountered after the declawing operation.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

City of St. Louis, Missouri ban cat declawing

The title says it. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Board of Aldermen of the city voted 21-1 for an ordinance (a local law) to end declawing by St. Louis veterinarians.

St. Louis ban declawing
St. Louis ban declawing. Photo in pubic domain. Words added by PoC.

There are 8 cities in California where declawing was banned years ago and New York state banned declawing recently. A ban on declawing is widespread in Canada. Declawing was also banned in Denver about 2 years ago. St. Louis is the tenth US cit to ban declawing to the best of my knowledge.

Although there is a long way to go, there is a strengthening feeling among the lawmakers of the US that declawing is immoral.

It is usually females in the legislature who instigate bans on declawing because they tend to have a greater empathy for the pain and suffering that declawing causes cats and its highly immoral nature (it’s unnecessary). They are less likely to be swayed by arguments on loss of revenue by the vets. This is a very poor argument.

As usual there are exceptions to the ban but these are reasonable because there are genuine situations when declawing is necessary but they are very rare.

HERE ARE SOME MORE ARTICLES ON DECLAWING:

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Florida could be the second state to ban declawing after New York

Beautiful claws
Beautiful claws. Leave them alone vets. They are not yours to abuse and use for profit.

It is reported that a bill has been introduced by Sen. Lauren Book of the Florida state legislature to ban declawing except when it is for medical reasons which are in the interests of the cat. In other words declawing cats for non-therapeutic reasons will be outlawed in Florida if Sen Book’s bill is approve by the state’s legislature and signed off by the governor.

This development follows in the footsteps of New York state where declawing for non-therapeutic reasons was recently banned – the first statewide ban of declawing ever.

I don’t have the bill’s details unfortunately. But this is more excellent news in the fight against declawing. It has been a long fight; about a decade long. I predicted that if New York state banned it, which they did, other states would follow and there would be a domino effect going forward. I’d expect declawing to be eradicated from America within 2-3 years God willing.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

New York State Bans Declawing. The Beginning of the End of Cat Declawing in America!

Gov Cuomo
Gov. Cuomo. Well done. He signed off the bill to make it law. I thought he wouldn’t.

The governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, signed the bill into law after the state legislature passed the bill banning declawing last month. New York State Veterinary Medical Society fought the bill all the way arguing that they should make the decision to declaw. Sorry but you have proved over and over again that you are incapable of making a decision in accordance with your oath and in the cat’s interest.

Michael Gianaris, the deputy leader of the New York Senate said that the surgery was akin to severing a human finger at the first knuckle and had “lifelong ramifications for cats” including chronic pain. Yes, absolutely, that is exactly what it is and veterinarians across the nation have consistently downplayed the severity of the operation. The name itself, ‘declawing’, is a misdescription. It is not simply the removal of the claw but the bone which holds the claw beyond the first knuckle.

Declawing bill NY state
This is the wording of the new law banning declawing in NY state. The words in green are the amendments to an existing statute.

“This is a real triumph cats and the people who love them. This has catapulted New York to a leadership position when it comes to cruelty against felines.” – Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, who pushed for years for a ban on cat declawing in the state. This woman is a heroine in my honest opinion. A statute should be built of her in a prominent position in the city of New York.

This is a momentous occasion in the campaign to stop declawing in America. It is the biggest single moment in that campaign which is proving successful. New York state is the first US state to ban cat declawing. Until now eight cities in California banned declawing.

Since then there was a pause and now we have an entire state of America banning it. In Canada the ban is more widespread and indeed Canadian legislatures in banning declawing over large areas may have encourage New York state to follow.

NY declaw ban
News conference on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. New York would be the first state to ban the declawing of cats under a legislative proposal that has divided veterinarians

This news will bring great joy the very many millions of people both in America and abroad who regard cat declawing as highly objectionable and as an unnecessary mutilation of domestic cats for the convenience of their owners.

It is an operation which goes fully and wholly against the oath of all veterinarians in America. May this be the beginning of the end for this aberration in cat welfare in a country where there are more cat lovers and domestic cats than any other.

Photographed after the declawing operation at the clinic referred to on this page.
Photographed after the declawing operation at the clinic referred to on this page.

To make things absolutely clear, the ban relates to cat declawing for non-therapeutic reasons. Clearly veterinarians have the right as have cat owners to decide to declaw when it is strictly for health and welfare reasons in the interests of the cat. However, this is extremely rare and 99.9% of cat declawing in America is carried out for non-therapeutic reasons. This will no longer happen in New York State. I will update this post as and when I can and as soon as possible.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

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