Don’t declaw your cats

My daughter’s cat, Midnight, was declawed — not by us, we adopted him from a shelter — and it’s a terrible practice, barbaric and cruel. Poor old beast, first that indignity, and now he has to share his human’s affections with a brand new baby.

But here’s one bit of good news, too late for Midnight: New Jersey is banning the declawing of cats. One state down, 49 more to go.


  1. asclepias says

    I volunteered once a week at a vet clinic when I was in college. I never could get used to watching declawings. Imagine being put under anesthetic and waking up with your first finger joint gone. It’s a handicap for the cat. Also, a lot of things can go wrong. I’ve seen the x-rays. The vet at the animal shelter clinic where I volunteer now refuses to do it.

  2. stwriley says

    It’s both barbaric and stupid (or, more accurately, lazy) on the part of people who do it to their cats. If you have a problem with a cat scratching things that you want to preserve, then cap their claws. It’s a fairly easy process, painless, and doesn’t mutilate the cat for your own convenience. They still have their claws, they just can’t destroy things with them. Sure, you have to watch for when the claws grow out so you can trim them again and replace the caps, but that’s a small price to pay (and you should be paying attention to your pets and their welfare anyway, so…)

  3. barbaz says

    When my cat got older he stopped using the scratching tree enough, so we had to trim his claws. Which he interpreted as an attempt to murder him. So we had to spike his food with sedatives every few months to be able to perform the procedure and then we had the joy of watching a drugged cat staggering through the house for a while. Fun times. De-clawing was unnecessary.

  4. raven says

    When my cat got older he stopped using the scratching tree enough, so we had to trim his claws.

    Some old cats do that.
    And yes, you have to trim their front claws at least.

    A long while ago now, my 19 year old cat stopped “sharpening his claws.” They aren’t sharpening their claws so much as getting rid of old keratin.
    PSA: This can be very dangerous for the cat!!!
    I didn’t pay much attention until I noticed his curved claws had started growing into his foot pads.
    He didn’t like me messing with his claws until he figured out that I was cutting them off. Then he relaxed and it was OK.
    Overlong claws also get snagged a lot. Anything like cloth ends up being like velcro to them.

  5. microraptor says

    My cat is pretty chill about getting her claws trimmed.

    The shelter where I volunteer (and where I adopted my cat from) has a very long explanation printed on one of the walls for why declawing your cat is so bad.

  6. marinerachel says

    I get the argument, “If we can’t declaw, more cats will scratch up furniture and be surrendered to shelters and euthanized!” I’m just not sure I believe it. Declawing can result in some really weird behaviours in cats I’m sure people dump them over.

  7. Doc Bill says

    A neighbor rescued a kitten that had been dropped from a car onto the freeway, in heavy and slow traffic. (yes, you read that correctly) At peril to herself she stopped her car, as did other drivers who saw the kitten in the road, and picked it up. Unable to keep it because of her dogs she brought it to us. Little Q, short for “rescue” is now four pounds of scampering fur and needle-sharp claws that he loves to sink into my legs. He’s part of the family and if he decides to claw the couch instead of my legs, I’m good with that! Because he was so young and didn’t know any better he has befriended the old cat and the 60-lb blue healer who was absolutely delighted to get a kitten!

  8. John Small Berries says

    Alas, it looks like the bill passed the assembly, was referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee, but stalled there in February 2017.

  9. says

    If your furniture is more important to you than the well-being of your cat (or pet in general) don’t get one. Also fuck everyone that is cruel to living beings.

  10. cartomancer says

    But how are you supposed to get those delightful little marks on your furniture if your cat has no claws? It takes ages to do it yourself with a craft knife.

  11. Alverant says

    Two of my three cats were declawed by previous owners. My older one on all four paws and also seemed to have abandonment issues. Right away he became attached to me, waiting at the door when he heard me come home and always wanted to be nearby. He would want to spend most of the night with me and would reach out with his paw to touch my shoulder to be sure I was there and would sometimes kneed my head. He went through some issues before finding a home with me. Cancer took him from me too soon.

  12. jrkrideau says

    My cat likes to go outside regularly. I like it but always worry because some SOBs declawed him long before he got here.

    He fell off the back of the couch a couple of weeks ago and I was laughing until I remembered that he had no claws. I still was not terribly sympathetic but a bit more understanding.

  13. jrkrideau says

    Poor old beast, first that indignity, and now he has to share his human’s affections with a brand new baby.

    Not completely sure about cats but a friend reports that his daughter seems to sound a lot more like the dog than her parents.

    Wait a moment. I remember a cousin reporting being mauled by her young sister’s Siamese when she returned after four months at university. Cat was not letting this “stranger” pick up a six month old girl.

    Your granddaughter may have a great guard. No claws but lots of noise.

  14. mpachis says

    I guess I will be odd man out. I have had many cats including four declawed cats. I have never seen the problems reported anecdotally about declawed cats having behavior or health issues. All of mine have lived long, healthy, pampered lives. There is the initial trauma of surgery, but beyond that there has been zero issues.

    The cats don’t “know” they are declawed. They still scratch on items, swat at person or animal that bothers them, and otherwise behave like a normal cat. The oldest declawed cat I have is a 15 year old female and going strong except for mild kidney disease. She loves being petted and demands your attention. The other declawed cat is a six year old male that is a sweet heart and loves playing hide and seek.

    What is the benefit for the cats? Will the ones above were all rescued as kittens from the street and destined for a short life of suffering and early death. They now live the life of Riley not wanting for a thing emotional or physical. We must admit that nothing about keeping companion animals is “natural”.

    What I think is more of an issue which does demonstrably shorten a cat’s life is letting them outside to roam. Being hit by cars, contagious diseases, attacked by dogs and other cats. I can’t tell you how many friends have let out their cat to never see them again. Mine are healthy, loved, spoiled, present and accounted for.

  15. says

    Let me set this straight: I am not saying that declawed cats are bad cats, ruined for life. They aren’t. But they have been unnecessarily victimized early in life. Skatje’s cat Midnight is a fine example — he’s well cared for and loved, and gets around surprisingly well (not because of his chopped off toes, but because he’s really getting up there in years. 18 years old, I think?)

    Don’t hesitate to adopt cats that have been declawed, they need a family, too. Just don’t hack off their digits for your convenience.

    When babies are about a year old, they start walking around and causing all kinds of trouble. We don’t break their knees so they’ll stay in their playpen.

  16. lanir says

    For the people with kittens that are interested in trimming as an alternative, the easiest way to handle it is to get them used to people touching their paws. They’ll instinctively shy away unless you get them used to the idea. They’re likely never going to be fond of having their claws trimmed but you check once a week or so and probably only trim one or two claws at a time as they grow back in.

    There are a number of videos on youtube describing this and how to proceed. If you have an adult cat who hasn’t been taught this, you may have to start by playing with their feet and rewarding them until they start letting you do it a bit easier or working with your vet to find the best way to approach it.

  17. methuseus says

    I personally am too lazy to trim a cat’s claws, and don’t enjoy trimming my dog’s (he doesn’t walk on pavement and apparently our sandy soil doesn’t affect his claw growth). I would likely never get a cat for the above mentioned reason, and the fact that I’ve never seen an actual potty trained cat. Every single person I’ve known with a cat has it piss and shit places other than the litter box on a regular basis. Those people supposedly cleaned the box regularly and all that, too. So I don’t think a cat is for me.

  18. methuseus says


    When babies are about a year old, they start walking around and causing all kinds of trouble. We don’t break their knees so they’ll stay in their playpen.

    There have been a few times that the thought did cross my mind. Not of breaking their knees, but somehow keeping them contained more effectively. I grew out of it, though, as did the kids (not as quickly).

  19. chigau (違う) says

    “Those people supposedly cleaned the box regularly and all that, too.”
    They lied to you.