Publications| Anti-Cruelty

Cats need their claws.

Declawing a cat is both psychologically and physically harmful. Cats rely on their paws, including their nails, or claws, for behavioral and grooming needs. Their claws help them to protect and defend themselves. Cats scratch to remove dead nail sheathes, and to stretch and strengthen their muscles, among other things.

Declawing cats is unnecessary and ineffective.

Declawing, also known as onychectomy, is the surgical amputation of the last joints of a cat’s toes. Declawing is an elective surgery that can be traumatic and cause permanent damage and pain for cats.

Declawing may increase the number of cats brought to shelters.

Side effects from declawing can include hemorrhaging, paw pad lacerations, swelling, radial nerve damage, lameness, infections, and chronic pain. In some cases, using the litter box can be painful on declawed paws. Cats who suffer from chronic pain may develop behavioral issues such as aggression, biting, and urinating outside the litter box. Behavioral issues like these are among the main reasons why cats are relinquished to animal shelters, where the majority are killed nationwide.

Affordable humane alternatives to address scratching behaviors are widely available.

If a cat’s scratching causes problems in your household, there are many humane alternatives to declaw surgery. These include scratch posts, spray deterrents, and nail caps. For more ideas, go to alleycat.org/Scratching.

More people recognize that declawing is harmful.

Thanks to education and awareness efforts, more people understand the potential lasting and harmful effects of declawing cats. The American Association of Feline Practitioners, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, the International Society of Feline Medicine, and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association oppose declawing. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also does not recommend declawing.

The movement to ban declawing is growing.

At least 41 countries have made declawing illegal, including England, France, Wales, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, and Israel. In North America, declawing is outlawed in nine U.S. cities—Denver, Colorado and eight cities in California—and in the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. In the past few years, an increasing number of state bills have been introduced to ban declawing, indicating that jurisdictions are finally recognizing declawing as cruel and inhumane.

Join our movement to protect cats.

Alley Cat Allies is against the cruel practice of declawing cats. We encourage everyone to speak out against declawing and support declawing bans in all communities. Join us by taking our pledge to never declaw cats alleycat.org/NoDeclawing.