Pros & Cons of Declawing a Cat

Declawing your cat carries a lot of cons for the cat and arguably a few pros for you. If you're consider declawing your cat, have a chat with your veterinarian first. He can better explain the risks of declawing and help you find an alternative if appropriate.

Human's hand holding cat paw with claw
You can retrain a cat to stop scratching furniture.
credit: Lulamej/iStock/Getty Images

Benefits of Declawing

Cat declawing is for the convenience of the owner. You may fear being scratched, your furniture being defaced or your children getting hurt -- but declawing should be an option only when the alternative to declawing is worse. A person with a suppressed immune system cannot afford to be scratched and risk an infection, for instance, and giving up the cat might not be desirable. If the alternative to declawing is or euthanasia, declawing is arguably less cruel than giving up the cat to a shelter or stranger's home, and it's obviously better than putting the animal down.

Risks and Consequences

Declawing has a lot of downsides. It's painful and, like any surgery, it has inherent risks, both from anesthesia and from potential infection after the surgery. In addition, declawing takes away your cat's natural defense mechanism by removing the nail and part of the toe.

Standard vs. Laser Declawing

Laser declawing is faster and causes the incision to bleed less, but the final results are much the same as standard declawing surgery. Cats declawed using laser surgery don't necessarily heal any faster or experience any less pain. Because laser surgery requires extreme precision and costs up to three times more than standard declawing surgery, not all vet clinics offer it.

Alternatives to Declawing

Most cats can be trained not to scratch furniture, but scratching is a normal feline behavior -- so you must provide alternatives like scratching posts or a piece of carpet for your cat to use. Start early for best results, redirecting kittens to use scratching posts every time you see them scratching the couch. Apply catnip to the scratching post or piece of carpet to make it more attractive than your furniture. Take your cat to a professional groomer for options like protective nail caps.