Why cats should keep their claws?

Why should domestic cats keep their claws? You could turn the question around and ask: “Why should humans think that they have the right to remove a cat’s claws?” That is the starting point. Humans do not have a right to interfere in a brutal and barbaric way with the anatomy of a beloved cat companion. It is not part of the unwritten agreement between cat and human. In a better society it would be unthinkable. In many societies it is illegal. It is just in America and to a lesser extent in Canada that this ridiculous abnormality in veterinary behaviour exists. It is a cultural defect.

Sick woman smiles while the poor cat has been declawed and in pain. Horrible
Sick woman smiles while the poor cat has been declawed and in pain. Horrible
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

In the UK and in 37 other countries it is illegal. If a veterinarian in the UK declawed cats for non-therapeutic reasons they would end up in the criminal court being prosecuted by the state for animal cruelty. Think about that, please.

Yes, I realise, that the people of one country do not like being criticised by the people of another country. It is uncomfortable but to outsiders, the declawing of cats by veterinarians in America and to a lesser extent in Canada is unfathomable. Pressure needs to be applied to stop this pain, distress and mutilation of kittens by people who are respected in society.

Declawing banned in many countries
Declawing banned in many countries

So, the first reason why cats should keep their claws is because, at heart, it is an illegal process made legal in America by a lacuna (hole) in their laws. Things are changing and those changes are getting bigger and bigger. For instance, New York state has banned declawing. Many years ago, 9 cities in California banned declawing. Whole sections of Canada have banned declawing. So, the process is being eroded by piecemeal changes to the law which I find unsatisfactory in one way because it would be so much better if the federal governments of Canada and America simply banned it.

In fact, it will be so much better if the veterinarians simply stopped doing it voluntarily. That would be the moral process. That would be the ethical process but unfortunately, the majority of them don’t recognise ethics.

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'.
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’.


There are many reasons why domestic cats need to keep their claws on a behavioural and anatomical basis.

Firstly, domestic as a walk on their toes. Imagine a human raising themselves up and walking around in bare feet on their toes all day every day. Now imagine a doctor brutally cutting off a piece of bone from the last joint of each toe in about 15 minutes using a guillotine. And then sending that person home to carry on living as normal. How would they feel? Devastated. It would affect the way they walk and make them miserable for the rest of their lives. They would be bemused and confused.

We expect cats to totally accept this operation. The operation has been mislabelled (‘declawing’) by veterinarians to make it look less severe. It is not solely the removal of claws as if you can pull them out with a pair of pliers or something. It is a partial amputation of every toe. It was incredibly painful. The veterinarians admit this.

At one time veterinarians thought that it was better that the cats that they are declawed felt this enormous pain to stop them walking on their toes. The idea was that the operation would heal faster. Utterly cruel and barbaric. One veterinary problem compounding the other.

Yes, cats are digitigrades-they walk on their toes. The image below shows you what it would be like if we walk on all 4 limbs, showing our hands.

Human hand being used a cat paw
Human hand being used a cat paw. Image: PoC.

So, the operation can affect how domestic cats walk. It can alter their gait. This can lead to other health problems such as arthritis.

And because their toes can be sore for a very long time if not indefinitely on occasions, it affects their behaviour such as litter box aversion. They find it uncomfortable to walk on litter substrate and therefore they pee outside the litter box. This happens a lot. Many inappropriate elimination problems by domestic cats in America are caused by declawing.

And when a domestic cat has no claws, they use their teeth to defend themselves. Therefore, they bite more. This also happens. So, when a cat owner has their cat declawed to prevent being scratched, they end up being bitten more. The end result is no gain. It’s a failure from the owner’s point of view. From the cat’s point of view, it is a disaster.

Often veterinarians botch the operation by leaving shards of bone inside the claw. This is to be expected bearing in mind the speed at which they carry out the operation in order to maximise their profit margin. This causes permanent pain.

botched cat declaw operations
Botched cat declaw operations stud results

Lazer declawing avoids leaving shards of bone in the paw but it is still a partial amputation so all the usual problems exist in the same way.

Of course, once you have declawed a cat you have to keep them inside full-time. That places an added burden on the owner to ensure that the environment is enriched. Owners do not respond to that extra challenge by doing anything different. They do not enrich the environment of their home vis-à-vis their cat. Domestic cats become bored. They become obese. There is an obesity epidemic in America both for people and cats.

And with obesity you have further health problems. Many health problems emanate from obesity including Type II diabetes which is on the increase in American cats.

There are many complications from the declawing operation. They are numerous. Including post-operative complications of pain, haemorrhage, swelling, reluctance to bear weight on affected limbs, neuropraxia and lameness. Later on, there are other problems such as tissue necrosis, infection, incomplete healing, bone regrowth and chronic intermittent lameness.

These are all physical complications. What about the mental? How does the cat feel? Bad very often. There can be self-mutilation because of constant pain. There can be chronic pain syndrome. It’s almost endless, the possibilities. Please click on the link below to read about the complications in more detail.

RELATED: Complications Of Declawing

Cat claw regrowth after declawing
An example of cat claw regrowth after declawing. Photo: Dr. Rachel Fuentes. Many thanks.

RELATED: Another graphic picture of cat claw regrowth after declawing operation

How many domestic cats are wandering around homes in America without their claws feeling miserable, partially lame and developing arthritis?

Do cat owners want to make their cats miserable just because they’re frightened of a cat’s claws? There are other ways to deal with a fear of claws. Good domestic cat management and interactions can avoid being scratched at all times. It is possible to eliminate the possibility of being scratched by your cat provided you exercise common sense and you learn how to avoid it. It’s about respecting the cat; respecting that they are topline predators.

It’s about not treating your cat as a baby and mishandling them. It’s about not overplaying with your cat to the point where they end up thinking that you are roughhousing with them which inevitably results in a bite or scratch.

Respecting the cat means respecting their whole body; every part of them. It is learning to live with them in a respectful way. It is not trying to alter them to fit in with the human lifestyle.

Declawing is an expression of human arrogance and all that is bad about humankind. It is thinking that humans are better than animals. It is regarding animals as second-class citizens. It’s about ‘us and them’ when in fact we are all share the planet and our objective should to be to live in harmony with animals. We are a human-animal. There needs to be recognition that humans are animals but simply more intelligent, and with more advanced abilities and societies, but at heart we are the same.

All veterinarians who still declawed cats should be ashamed of themselves. Britain’s best-known veterinarian and author, Dr. Bruce Fogle DVM, has described declawing as “barbaric”. Many British veterinarians keep quiet about it because they don’t want to upset their American counterparts. Dr. Fogle is braver than a typical British veterinarian. What he says should be enough to convince people as to why domestic cats should keep their claws.

Below is a large format version of a video why cats should keep their claws. Nothing special except it is special to a cat to keep their claws and claws are special to cats! The large format allows people to read the text better as there is a far bit of text in the video…thanks for bearing with me

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