Why is declawing cats cruel but neutering cats is not?

One of the big arguments that supporters of declawing regularly use is that people who campaign against cat declawing support neutering and spaying. The pro-declawers say this is illogical because neutering cats is a medical operation just like declawing and it is done at our convenience. This article attempts to show that it is not illogical to support neutering but decry declawing.

Declawing versus spaying and neutering
Declawing versus spaying and neutering
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

The arguments must center around how neutering/spaying and declawing benefit the health and welfare of the cat or not. All operations on cats, under the rules and guidelines of the veterinary profession, must enhance the health and welfare of cats. From the standpoint of cat owners, morally, we can only justify putting our cat through a medical operation if it benefits the cat. I would hope everyone agrees that.


By far the biggest reason why cat owners have their cats declawed, in North America, is to stop the cat damaging furniture. Another, lesser reason, is to stop the cat scratching people. Almost always, there is no cat related medical reason. The operation is done exclusively for the convenience of the person because the person likes cats but not their claws. As a consequence they prefer a modified version of the cat.

The key aspect of declawing is that 99.99% of the time it is done for the person’s benefit. However, from the cat’s perspective it often has a substantially negative impact on the cat’s health and welfare.

There are many pages on PoC about declawing, I will select four of them. Two pages bring home the suffering declawing causes a domestic cat – complications and how many cats suffer in Utah. One debunks the idea that declawing saves cats’ lives and the fourth highlights the incredible post operative pain that partial amputation of ten toes causes the cat despite pain killers. Sometimes pain persists much longer than people think.

In conclusion on declawing: there is a massive downside for the cat but convenience for the person.

Neutering (orchidectomy)

Using the criteria above, we will see that neutering and spaying benefits the domestic cat living in the human world and the domestic cat must live in our world. Neutering also benefits people. Personally, I see neutering as a necessity because of failures in the domestication of the cat. For example, we have allowed too many cats to be created.

For the male cat “the operation is not difficult or invasive”. The cat goes home on the day of the operation. There is no post operative pain. He cannot procreate, of course, which indirectly benefits the domestic cat generally because a lot of cats are unwanted and killed at shelters. On this standard alone neutering cats benefits the cat. There is no need for the male domestic cat to procreate willy-nilly. He does not have that role anymore.

There are also benefits for people: spraying urine is often eliminated, he becomes more affectionate and people orientated, he wanders and fights less both of which are beneficial to the health of the male cat.

Spaying (ovariohysterectomy)

This operation is, of course, much more substantial. The uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed. The benefits to the female cat are substantial: she is less irritable at certain times of the year, cystic ovaries, false pregnancies, uterine infection and irregular heat cycles are eliminated. In addition, the frequency of occurrence of breast tumours is reduced.

As for the cat’s character it is not changed fundamentally. Spaying may slow metabolism, which is why some cats put on weight. More exercise and a diet will solve that problem.

Contrary to what a significant percentage of cat owners believe, the female cat does not need to have a litter of kittens to be “psychologically fulfilled”.

It goes without saying that spaying also benefits people because there are less unwanted cats. It helps to solve the “unwanted cat problem”.


Spaying and neutering benefits both the cat and people and in the modern world it is a logical necessity. There are no long term complications affecting the health and welfare of the cat. The overall effect is positive and beneficial for both parties.

In contrast, declawing carries significant complications and health and welfare problems for the cat without any benefits. It is only misguided people who benefit but they could just as easily achieve a similar result by altering their attitude and behavior.

These are the reasons why pro-declawers can never use the neutering argument to support their cause.

16 thoughts on “Why is declawing cats cruel but neutering cats is not?”

  1. My computer is about to die so I will be back later but Betti please come back and tell us more about your original comment I’m intrigued…….

  2. Betti, I am having a hard time following your logic. Why can’t a cat with claws live inside? You act as though a cat must be declawed to live inside. I really do not understand what you are saying.

    I do know that there are enough stats to show that declawing is very detrimental to the health and welfare of the cat. What stats are good enough for you? If only 25% are maimed and in pain for the rest of their lives, is that an acceptable percentage? Did you know the majority of vets in the U.S. will spay and neuter your kitten and declaw at the same time? Did you know most vets recommend declawing when they are kittens? Did you know that there is no way they are complying with AVMA guidelines by doing that? How could they when they haven’t even given the kitten time to be trained to scratch appropriately? Most vets don’t even ask about the issue of scratching. Open your eyes Betti, and look around. They advertise a package which consists of a spay/neuter with a declaw. When I look at the little paws of a foster kitten, it sickens me to think that someone who has taken an oath to do no harm, would take that paw and cut off the ends of the toes, with no benefit to that baby. A perfectly healthy foot, destroyed and cut into. Sounds like a monster, doesn’t it?

    Do not confuse declawing with indoor outdoor or spay/neuter issues. Anyone that uses those as an excuse is throwing up a smoke screen. How can you sit on the fence? Open your eyes, read, read and read some more. Be informed and speak up for the kitten/cat that needs you.

  3. First I believe in spaying and neutering, this is not a post comparing the 2. Secondly I have never had a cat declawed and (unfotunately) my cats have claws. I really believe that most people who declaw their cats keep them inside because most people know a cat without their claws can’t defend themselves or escape many dangers. I’m talking about cat owners that keep their cats for life as both clawed and declawed cats end up in shelters for an assortment of reasons. I’m talking people who feel they are committed to their cats.
    My argument is that in this case, declawing cats has a benefit for the cat, because the indoor cat is saved from males fighting, wandering and spraying and both sexes from death by automobile, dogs or other predators, sadistic strangers and being picked up by authorities or turned in by angry neighbors and dumped at an out of the area shelter.
    I’m personally on the fence on this debate, I only wish all the issues were presented fairly and statistics were also published on declawed cats that present no ill effects at their annual vet check ups. I really think some cats live wonderful painfree lives after declawing and would be more convinced if all the facts were presented, not just the ones that seem to prove the point the writer wishes to prove.
    Indoor vs outdoor vs indoor/outdoor is another topic for discussion and cats that go outside some or all of the time tend to not damage furniture because they normally choose to sharpen their claws on trees and other natural objects, whereas cats that are to remain inside at all times do not have those choices. My point of view is that people who let their cats outside without retraints such as a leash and harness or a safe outdoor enclosure are irresponsible cat “owners”.

    • You’re kidding, right? Cats aren’t declawed so they can be kept indoors. They live indoors quite easily with claws. They MUST be kept indoors because they are declawed. My cats are saved from all the things you mention because they are indoor-only, and they all have claws. It doesn’t matter that some cats don’t present ill effects when they see the vet. Declawing HURTS and is done for the human’s vanity, not for the health or well-being of the animal.

    • Betti. I think I have proved the point because I have compared like-for-like in respect on the most important criterion: does the operation benefit the cat?

      Declawing comes out badly and neutering comes out well on that argument and that is the only argument worth discussing.

      Betti, I don’t think you should sit on the fence as a result. It is a clear cut situation.

    • Unfortunately your cats have claws??? Did you not know that cats have claws when you got them? The reason that cats have claws is because they need them to live healthy fulfilled lives as CATS indoors or outdoors. You really need to do some serious research about cats and find out all the reasons why cats are born with claws. It’s very simple, you were born with finger ends because you need them indoors and outdoors too, think of your life without your finger ends…that is the comparison to a declawed cat, life as a cripple, unable to do what cats do, doomed to the consequences of amputation.

        • We can only keep on educating people Michael, every chance we get. I know our PoC articles and posters have saved many claws. Once someone knows the truth, if they still think declawing is acceptable then they certainly must hate cats.

    • quote ‘I only wish all the issues were presented fairly and statistics were also published on declawed cats that present no ill effects at their annual vet check ups. I really think some cats live wonderful painfree lives after declawing and would be more convinced if all the facts were presented, not just the ones that seem to prove the point the writer wishes to prove’

      You think SOME declawed cats live pain free lives, you THINK….so is that god enough even if it was true, that other declawed cats don’t live pain free lives? EVERY cat should live a pain free life. Do you honestly think vets who amputate kitten’s toe ends are going to admit problems are due to the declawing? Of course they will not.
      Do you know that there are no true statistics for the number of declawed cats relinquished to shelters? Do you know why there isn’t? Well I will tell you, it’s because at kill shelters, cats with mental or physical problems from declawing are killed on admission, as unadoptable. Having researched and studied declawing for 6 years now and done 2 years study on shelters I think before you air your ‘knowledge’ any more, you should do some serious research yourself. Your ‘cats sharpen their claws’ shows you don’t know much about them. Scratching posts and pads are made for a reason,if anyone can’t gently and patiently teach a cat to use one then they are not a fit cat ‘owner’
      Your view is that we who let our cats have their rightful freedom are irresponsible cat ‘owners’ ……my view is that any cat ‘owner’ who defends declawing is more than that, they are downright uneducated!

    • ‘Iā€™m talking people who feel they are committed to their cats’ Betti are you indeed? people who are committed to their cats? Well let me tell you Betti I think you will find that the people you are talking about are committed to their furniture and their own selfish needs they are however in no way shape or form committed to their cats! People who are committed to their cats do not needlessley mutilate them!

      Only today I saw something horrific on Facebook about some selfish uneducated person that was considering having a Siamese kitten put to sleep. The reason? because the kitten and become aggressive after she had him declawed. The reason she had him declawed? because he scratched her son. Now I’ve always believed that if you teach children to respect animals they don’t get scratched or bitten. Clearly this was too time consuming for her so the easy and lazy option? Get the kitten declawed. Now come on this isn’t rocket science surely? If someone cut the ends of your fingers off then messed with you, antagonised you, poked you, pulled you around you would get pissed off!!!
      Now this person is having this poor kitten that she’s mutilated and turned into a living, breathing stuffed toy killed because her child still can’t maul it without getting hurt. So now from you position on the fence how is that acting in the cats best interests???

  4. Yes it’s a tired old argument that the people desperate to justify declawing use, along with the other argument that circumcision for babies/children is worse than the amputation of cats toe ends.
    With all the information and evidence of the suffering caused by declawing, from the Paw Project, there is no excuse for lack of knowledge now.
    Declawing has to stop and the sooner the better!


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