Some people believe that when unwanted scratching occurs in their house declawing their cats is a completely harmless “quick fix”. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, declawing your cat can make it more likely to shy away from using the litter box, and also more likely to bite. It can also cause long-lasting physical issues such as chronic pain, arthritis, and more. 

There are many countries in the world that have banned declawing as a cruel practice. While the United States has yet to do so on a federal level, there are many states that have banned the practice. The Humane Society of the United States has made public that it opposes declawing, except for the rare cases when it is necessary for medical purposes, such as the removal of cancerous nail bed tumors.

The fact is cats scratch. It’s a completely normal behavior, and vital to their health. Cats scratch to remove the dead husks from their claws, mark their territory, and stretch their muscles.

Generally, at about 8 weeks old cats begin scratching.  This is the perfect time to teach cats to use a scratching post and allow nail trims. Scratching posts like this are perfect:


To make a scratching post more attractive to scratch than your couch, follow these tips:               

  • Your post should be at least as tall as your cat standing, and sturdy. (Cats like to stretch when scratching, so the post shouldn’t move or fall down.) Try a post like this with a wide base for stability. 
  • Made of sisal, a type of rope many cats enjoy scratching.
  • If your cat is scratching something you don’t want her to—such as the arm of a couch or a rug—place the scratching post next to it or, in the case of the rug, on it.
  • Place the scratching post in other encouraging spots. Your cat might like to show off in a prominent place (and you can reward him with a treat when he does). Or, he might enjoy having the post near a favorite sleeping spot; cats like to stretch when they wake up from a good nap.


Want to encourage your cat to use the post more? Try to:

• Rub catnip on the post regularly.

• Play with him around the post—cats like to scratch while playing.

• Get on your hands and knees and scratch the post to show her how much fun it is. (Cats are excellent observers.)

If your cat doesn’t use his scratching post, don’t give up. He or she may prefer a scratching post made of carpet, or a corrugated cardboard scratching pad. (If he has shown he likes to scratch carpets give him a carpet-covered scratching post.) Or he might like to scratch horizontally, so try something you can lay on the floor.

Something like this cardboard horizontal scratcher may just do the trick for a picky cat!              

Give your cat enough exercise and interesting things to do. A bored cat with lots of energy may be more likely to scratch. When you’re not home to interact, toys can keep your cat busy. 

Make sure that your cat isn’t feeling stress. Cats who are stressed may scratch things to mark their territory to feel safer.

But what IS declawing?


People often think that declawing a cat just means removing its nails. (Even if it were, imagine having YOUR nails removed at the whim of someone else. You likely wouldn’t enjoy it.) Instead though, declawing is much worse. 

Declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.

The standard method of declawing is amputating with a scalpel or guillotine clipper. The wounds are closed with stitches or surgical glue, and the feet are bandaged.

Another method is laser surgery in which a small, intense beam of light cuts through tissue by heating and vaporizing it. However, it's still the amputation of the last toe bone of the cat and carries with it the same long-term risks of lameness and behavioral problems as does declawing with scalpels or clippers.

A third procedure is the tendonectomy, in which the tendon that controls the claw in each toe is severed. The cat keeps their claws, but can't control them or extend them to scratch. This procedure is associated with a high incidence of abnormally thick claw growth. Therefore, more frequent and challenging nail trims are required to prevent the cat's claws from snagging on people, carpet, furniture, and drapes, or from growing into the cat's paw pads.

Because of complications, a cat that has been given a tendonectomy may require declawing later. Although a tendonectomy is not actually amputation, a 1998 study published in the "Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association" found the incidence of bleeding, lameness, and infection was similar between tendonectomy and declawing.

Medical drawbacks to declawing include pain in the paw, infection, tissue necrosis (tissue death), lameness, and back pain. Removing claws changes the way a cat's foot meets the ground and can cause pain similar to wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes. There can also be a regrowth of improperly removed claws, nerve damage, and bone spurs.

Rather than maiming your friend for unwanted behavior, take the time and the patience to train him to behave properly, and utilize some basic care steps:


  • Keep their claws trimmed to minimize damage to household items.
  • Provide stable scratching posts and boards around your home. Offer different materials like carpet, sisal, wood, and cardboard as well as different styles (vertical and horizontal). 
  • Use toys and catnip to entice your cat to use the posts and boards. 
  • Ask your veterinarian about soft plastic caps that are glued to the cat's nails. They need to be replaced about every six weeks.
  • Attach double-sided tape to furniture to deter your cat from unwanted scratching.
  • By following these tips, and taking the time to properly train and entertain your cat, he can live a pain-free life, and you can enjoy each other’s company to the fullest.