General Question

Sunsetseast's avatar

What are the side effects of declawing a cat?

Asked by Sunsetseast (85points) November 15th, 2009 from iPhone
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

24 Answers

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Three of mine are declawed, and go outside. I’ve had two of them for 7+ years, one for 3 years. So far, the only difference I can tell between them and the one with claws is that they don’t shred my furniture. They catch birds, mice and rats just fine. We do have a place under the front porch that they can get into but bigger animals cannot, so if they encounter a dog, they have a haven.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Aside from taking away a natural defense and inflicting immense pain on a creature you’re supposed to love?

theichibun's avatar

When you declaw a cat you essentially cut off the end of their toes in order to get rid of the claws. Sometimes they have issues walking/running/etc. after because they suddenly don’t have all of the foot that they’re used to having.

Adagio's avatar

Why on earth would you want to declaw a cat?

MissAusten's avatar

The declawing procedure isn’t just about removing the claws. It’s about removing the cat’s toes to the first knuckle. This article describes declawing and some of the side effects.

Personally, I don’t think it is a humane thing to do to a cat. Even if the cat is never outdoors, it’s painful and can cause problems for the cat using the litter box. If it’s something you are considering, talk to your vet and research it carefully. There is probably a simpler way to get a cat to stop clawing things around the house. Provide a scratching post and trim the cat’s claws regularly.

That being said, we had a lot of cats when I was a kid, and most of them were indoor/outdoor cats. My mom had two of them declawed because those cats scratched the furniture. One would attack the carpet. They didn’t seem to have any behavior changes, but then again, I was just a kid at the time. One of them had some problems with the litter box and would pee all over the house, but I honestly couldn’t say if that started before or after she was declawed. Sometimes right on my bed, which drove me crazy. I’d look into other options and only consider declawing as a last, last, desperate resort.

breedmitch's avatar

One side effect is having folks on fluther be mad at you.~

Sunsetseast's avatar

definitely not declawing my kitty, I was just curious what the side effects were….Thanks guys:)

holden's avatar

My cats are declawed. They’re fine.

Likeradar's avatar

For anyone thinking about mutilating your pet, consider these instead.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I once had a pet cat and had him declawed before I knew it was a horribly painful thing to do but he didn’t end up crippled in any way, had no problems whatsoever running, jumping or even going up a tree but he pretty strong and fiesty. The one downside and I’m not sure it was due to the trauma of the surgery is that he got a nasty habit of spraying against the apartment walls now and then. This was also after he’d been neutered as a young kitten so I kind of suspected the declawing brought it on.

Supacase's avatar

My cat is declawed and she is fine. She came that way from the shelter, but she can do everything – including climb a tree. She doesn’t mind having her feet touched, so they must not be sensitive and the procedure must not have traumatized her too much.

@MissAusten I doubt there is a simpler way – declawing pretty much takes care of it in one fell swoop whereas training them to stop can take a while. Training may be kinder, but probably not simpler.

dpworkin's avatar

It is an ugly, painful and disfiguring process which in my opinion should be outlawed. No responsible cat owner should ever allow it.

oratio's avatar

Kitten Mittens?

holden's avatar

I will add that though my cats are fine, it is a painful procedure and is something that I will never elect to do to my future cats.

Sarcasm's avatar

@oratio that’s what I came here to promote! Also, according to Charlie, they’re mittOns and I think we should accept that. Hulu has a much higher quality version of that.

All 3 of my cats were declawed in the front. They seemed to do fine.

oratio's avatar

@Sarcasm Haha, I accept. But it seems that America hates Europe, cause we can’t access Hulu. =p

dalepetrie's avatar

To try to give a fair and balanced answer….

Yes, it is painful to the cat.
Yes, it is disfiguring the cat.
Yes, it is like removing their fingers at the first knuckle.
Yes, it is removing a cat’s natural defense.


I’ve had (and have) indoor cats who have been declawed (before I got them), and they all lived long, happy, healthy lives and after the initial shock, seemed none the worse for wear because of it.

I wouldn’t do it, because I wouldn’t want to put a creature I care about through that much pain. But if you’re of the “no pain, no gain” variety who thinks a large amount of pain for a few days is worth a lifetime of pristine furniture, that’s ultimately your choice.

The only detriment I really see when I look at the 3 cats we have who were all declawed before we got them, and the kitten we got a bit over a year ago, is that kitten likes to attack the other cats, and it would be nice if one of them could teach him a lesson he wouldn’t forget.

Cupcake's avatar

I had 2 cats declawed a handful of years ago. I thoroughly discussed it with my vet who had declawed his own cats. He told me that the procedure has improved recently, as have available pain medication. The cats came home with a fentanyl patch on between their shoulders. They slept for about a day and have been totally fine since. I, on the other hand, got a nasty tingly feeling inside whenever I touched their feet and felt tremendous guilt.

That said… I would have to have a serious issue to consider it again. I am training my current cats to not scratch furniture and it’s going fine. Not perfect… but perfectly tolerable.

I have indoor-only cats.

Likeradar's avatar

Cats are animals that have claws… just like dogs have tails and horses and hooves. Why do people get an animal and remove part of it? If a cat does not fit into their lifestyle, why adopt one? For their precious furniture? Or am I missing something?

wildpotato's avatar

First of all, it will help you to learn a bit about cat paw anatomy. This page provides excellent details, plus diagrams. The most important thing to understand from that article is: “Removal of the last digits of the toes drastically alters the conformation of their feet and causes the feet to meet the ground at an unnatural angle that can cause back pain similar to that in humans caused by wearing improper shoes,” and “A graphic comparison in human terms would be the cutting off of a person’s finger at the last joint of each finger.”

As far as the bit you are specifically asking about, this article states, “The rate of complication is relatively high compared with other so-called routine procedures. Complications of this amputation can be excruciating pain, damage to the radial nerve, hemorrhage, bone chips that prevent healing, painful regrowth of deformed claw inside of the paw which is not visible to the eye, and chronic back and joint pain as shoulder, leg and back muscles weaken.

Other complications include postoperative hemorrhage, either immediate or following bandage removal is a fairly frequent occurrence, paw ischemia, lameness due to wound infection or footpad laceration, exposure necrosis of the second phalanx, and abscess associated with retention of portions of the third phalanx. Abscess due to regrowth must be treated by surgical removal of the remnant of the third phalanx and wound debridement. During amputation of the distal phalanx, the bone may shatter and cause what is called a sequestrum, which serves as a focus for infection, causing continuous drainage from the toe. This necessitates a second anesthesia and surgery. Abnormal growth of severed nerve ends can also occur, causing long-term, painful sensations in the toes. Infection will occasionally occur when all precautions have been taken.”

From my own experience, my cat was permanently crippled. She was declawed at my parents’ behest; I was 10 at the time. She “chipmunked” for about a year after the procedure – preferred to sit on her haunches and not let her front feet touch the ground when sitting. She would whine to be picked up and carried places rather than jump or walk. Her personality changed, now she will always walk with a limp, and have pain when jumping. Look at this photo of her paw and compare it with this photo of my other, non-declawed cat’s paw.

So basically, it’s torture for these animals, and it’s done for no more than our convenience. Buy softpaws instead.

trogdor_87's avatar

If your cat ever gets out it’s going to get it’s ass kicked by the other cats, let alone other preditors.

dpworkin's avatar

Perhaps fashion will require some of you to remove some of your own toes, to fit into a finer shoe. One can only hope.

Sarcasm's avatar

@trogdor_87 My cats still pwned the birds and rodents they came across in the fenced-in yard in which they were allowed to wander.

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