All You Should Know About Cat De-clawing

Cat De-clawing

An onychectomy, more commonly known as cat de-clawing, is a surgical procedure that involves amputating the last bone of each toe in a cat’s paw, which renders the cat unable to scratch.

Although this procedure was once considered a quick fix for destructive scratching in cats, most veterinarians now only consider de-clawing as a last resort. This goes to show how the perspective of veterinarians and cat parents has shifted over the years. Ethics and a better understanding of animal pain and cat behaviour have led to many veterinarians and humane groups opposing and pushing for the ban of this procedure. So if you’re a cat parent looking to understand the procedure, this is the article for you. Below we have highlighted everything you need to know about cat de-clawing.

The De-clawing Process

The process involves using either a guillotine clipper or scalpel blade to amputate each toe by removing the third phalanx of the front paws. Stitches or surgical glue are then used to close the wound before the feet are bandaged. The cat is given a safe dosage of heavy pain medication afterwards and kept in the hospital for monitoring and ensuring adequate pain control while healing starts.

Why Cats Are De-Clawed

The most common reason why cat owners de-claw their cats is to prevent them from destructively scratching at people, other pets, furniture, and other belongings in the home. De-clawing a cat for these reasons is considered an elective procedure since it is not medically necessary. However, there are situations where de-clawing is warranted medically. When a cat has a chronic infection, a tumor, or irreparable damage to its claws, getting an onychectomy might be medically necessary.

There are some people who suggest cat de-clawing as a way to prevent the spreading of diseases to people with impaired immune systems; however, research has shown that parasite control and good hygiene can better prevent the zoonotic spread of diseases. More information can be found on Mellowed Cats.

As a last resort, veterinarians also consider de-clawing when all attempts to redirect destructive scratching have failed.

The Side Effects Of De-Clawing

Even when the procedure is carried out perfectly, the chances of complications (reacting to the suture material, infections and swelling) arising during healing are still quite high. Not to mention the cat may develop a limp after the surgery. Other long-term side effects include; neurological pain (cases of phantom limb) and paralysis, holding up a paw for years, and arthritis in later years.

Alternatives To Cat De-Clawing

There are a lot of safer, less painful alternatives you can use to solve your cat’s scratching problem apart from de-clawing. These include;

  • Trim your cat’s nails frequently (preferably every 2 weeks). This should keep their nails short enough to prevent any significant damage to furniture. This can also prevent ingrown nails.
  • Invest in scratching posts. Place multiple
  • scratching posts
  • in different areas of your home. The scratching posts should offer different materials, fabrics, and styles. Adding catnip and toys can also help with enticing your cat to the post.
  • Consider soft cat nail coverings. These coverings are usually glued to your cat’s nails with a special adhesive to prevent them from damaging any surface they scratch.
  • Train them to scratch the right place. Cats are very intelligent animals, so you can train them to use scratching posts by offering rewards and treats. You can also scold them if you catch them scratching your furniture by using a loud and firm voice.


As a cat parent, destructive scratching habits can be very frustrating to deal with, but de-clawing shouldn’t be the first solution you consider. With proper education and understanding of cat behaviour, you should be able to implement other safer alternatives that are just as effective in preventing scratching.