Who Is Mistral Dawn?

Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)) where she works as a hospital drudge and attends graduate school. Taken By The Huntsman is her first effort at writing fiction and if it is well received she has ideas for several more novels and short-stories in this series. Please feel free to visit her on FaceBook or drop her a line at mistralkdawn@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Is #Declawing A #Good #Idea?

Hey Everyone! :-)

Today, I'm continuing my series on pet advice I've come up with over the years.  One of the most common questions I'm asked about cats is whether they should be declawed.  Now, as I've said before, I'm not a veterinarian.  However, I have lived with cats for over thirty years, and in that time I've observed a few things.  This advice is based on those observations.

To Declaw Or Not To Declaw:
The short answer?  No, it's not a good idea.  Nor is it a kind thing to do to your pet.  There are several reasons for this, but the one that impacts cat owners the most is the fact that it can cause litter box issues.

Inappropriate elimination, both #1 and #2, is quite common in cats who have been declawed. There are a variety of physical and psychological reasons that this occurs. Declawed cats are prone to health problems because of the mutilation that has been committed on their feet.

The declawing process, itself, is painful.  Most often it is done by amputating the first knuckle on the toes. There are two alternative methods, but they are just as painful.  One involves severing the tendons that allows the claws to be extend, and the other involves disecting the nailbeds so that the claws cannot grow.  But neither of these methods is as common as the amputation method.

No matter which method is used, your kitty will be in pain after the surgery.  This means that, when the kitty goes to use the litter box, it hurts them -- a lot.  Like most living creatures, your kitty will want to avoid pain.  And once they start associating the litter box with pain, they may start avoiding it.  They may start going to the bathroom outside the box immediately, or they may try to "hold it," in which case they will most likely develop a urinary tract infection.

Declawing also often causes joint problems over time. Cats, unlike humans, naturally walk on only their toes. When you remove part of their toes, it causes them to change the way they walk and stand. This often leads to knee and hip problems, which can cause them to have difficulty climbing in and out of the litter box.

There are also a variety of psychological consequences to declawing a cat, which may cause them to stop using the litter box or to eliminate outside the litter box as well as inside it.  You may be able to redirect this behavior if you work hard at it and have a lot of patience, then again you may not. Kitties who have been declawed have been deprived of one of their primary defenses, so it's not uncommon for them to feel insecure and vulnerable.  One way animals avoid fights is by marking their territory clearly, so that other animals are deterred from entering it.  Declawing your kitty may make them more likely to try to avoid other animals by warning them away.

If you are trying to protect your furniture, you can put aluminum foil and/or duct tape over the areas where they are scratching. Every time you see them scratching, pick them up and take them over to their scratching post. Rub their feet on the scratching post. Try putting the scratching post in the area where they are scratching something that you don’t want them to scratch.  You can tempt them to their scratching post by putting some catnip on it.  There is also a product called "Softpaws" which is acrylic tips that can be glued over your kitty's claws.  The tips are too dull to cause damage if your kitty claws at things.

One thing you should keep in mind, if you declaw your kitty, they cannot ever be made an outside kitty.  It wouldn't be safe for them to be outside with no claws.  So if they begin having litter box problems, your choices will be to keep the kitty indoors or take them to a shelter.  It's highly unlikely anyone else will want to adopt a kitty who won't use a litter box.  So if you don't keep your kitty yourself, there is a high likelihood they will be euthanized.  Is that a choice you want to be faced with?  If not, please consider carefully before deciding to declaw.


  1. I've heard this and hope that more people realize that it's not a good thing to do.

  2. I'm happy to see someone (you!) writing about this topic, because I have seen many poor and neurotic declawed cats who cannot deal with not being able anymore to defend themselves among other things. It is such a bad practice and convenient only for humans and their furniture. Thanks for the write.

    1. Thank you for your comment! :-) I agree, I've seen a lot of declawed cats in shelters because they have "behavior problems" and a lot of those problems can be traced right back to the fact that they're declawed. The problems most likely wouldn't exist if their owners hadn't created them.

  3. Kittens and cats also express comfort and love by kneading which they can not do without their claws. You can train a kitten to allow you to clip their claws with a nail clipper. I have an 11 year old cat and a 3 month old kitten. Both allow me to clip their claws.

    1. Kitties who have been declawed will try to knead, but you're right, that's probably at least part of why so many of them have trouble adjusting to the amputation. Just about any cat can be trained to allow you to clip their claws. I've included a short explanation of how to clip kitty claws in my "How To Bathe A Cat" post. :-) Thank you for your comment!

  4. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I have declawed just the front paws of all my cats for the last ten years. None have had litter box issues (because we used newspaper for a few weeks after the operation)and none have had social issues.
    I realize it is painful and I hate to do it, but no amount of training has kept the many cats I have owned from kneading on every surface in my house, including walls. I have found no lasting issues with the way the surgeon I take them to removes the nail bed. This is the best method I have seen. We were given a cat once who had the knuckle thing done and she was a pitiful mess. I wouldn't suggest that.
    As far as outside cats without claws, it can be dangerous if there are other animals around. But my indoor/outdoor cat still climbs trees and hunts. If a cat bothers him, he runs to the porch so I can let him in and shoo the offender away. My mother in law has a cat who seems to get mauled by something every week and he still has claws. I think that just depends on the situation.
    Overall, I think it depends on the pet itself and the owners but my first concern with cats will always be getting them spade or neutered. Claws is up to the individual.

    1. I agree that spaying/neutering is extremely important, but I'm afraid I can't agree about declawing. I've worked doing rescue for more than a decade now, and I've seen literally hundreds of cats who have experienced complications because they were declawed. I'm glad you've been fortunate so far but, honestly, I'd be willing to bet money that your luck will run out. And so will that of the unfortunate kitty. :-/