The International Cat Association's Position on Declawing Cats
TICA is strongly against the practice of surgically altering cats’ paws, including declawing or severing tendons. Declawing is an unnecessary surgical procedure with severe physical and psychological consequences for your pet.
What is Declawing and the Physical Consequences of Declawing
Declaw surgery consists of the surgical amputation of the last joint of each “finger” of the cat. This surgery is extremely painful.
Recovery is difficult, as cats rely heavily on their paws and claws to move and interact with their surroundings. Declawed cats can also experience long-term health problems such as arthritis, infection, lameness, and chronic pain – all of which can lead to behavioral issues.
The most common problem after a declaw is pain using the litter box, causing the cat to develop a lifelong aversion to using a litter box. This may result in the cat eliminating in inappropriate places.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) strongly opposes declawing and tendonectomy due to the inherent risks and complications that increase with age such as acute pain, infection, and nerve trauma, as well as long-term complications including lameness, behavioral problems and chronic neuropathic pain.
The Psychological Consequences of Declawing Cats
- Removing a cat’s claws can cause extreme stress and anxiety, leading to changes in behavior, such as aggression or excessive meowing.
- Studies have also found that declawed cats may be more likely to bite than those with intact claws.
- Declawed cats may feel less secure because they no longer have their natural defense mechanism – their claws – in place.
Does declawing prevent scratching?
No. Scratching is a normal feline behavior – both inherited and learned.
It’s simple to divert a cat’s behavior to scratch in a preferred place; one must simply provide a surface the cat prefers to scratch above all others.
The surface should be large and stable enough so your cat can completely stretch out while scratching. Some cats prefer a rope-covered scratcher, some carpet, and some cardboard. Some cats prefer a vertical scratcher, and some prefer a horizontal area.
In order to support your cat’s natural behavior, you should provide scratching posts/pads and trim the claws of your cats on a frequent basis. The use of synthetic facial pheromone sprays and/or diffusers may help relieve anxiety or stress, reducing marking behavior such as scratching.
TICA firmly believes that surgical declawing of cats should never be performed, as it puts them at risk for serious physical and psychological harm. If you are an owner considering declawing your cat, it is important to understand the potential risks before making any decisions about your pet’s care. Instead of surgery, consider alternatives, such as nail trimming, nail caps, or providing scratching posts for your cat so they can express their natural behavior without harming you or your furniture!