Animal Humane Society position on declawing of domestic cats

Every year thousands of cats and kittens undergo unnecessary declawing procedures in an effort to eliminate natural scratching behaviors.

Animal Humane Society opposes the elective declawing of cats and other surgical procedures performed for purely cosmetic or convenience reasons, that provide no health benefit, or subject the animal to unnecessary pain or health risks.

Declawing involves amputating the last bone in each of a cat’s toes and severing the tendons, ligaments, and nerves connected to it. In addition to the risks and pain associated with the surgical procedure itself, declawing may lead to chronic pain and long-term behavioral challenges, including litterbox issues.

Scratching is a normal and necessary feline behavior. The goal is not to eliminate the behavior but to manage it in the safest and least destructive way possible.

We believe that veterinarians and animal welfare organizations have a responsibility to educate their clients about reasonable, effective, and humane alternatives to declawing that can reduce destructive scratching. Those alternatives include:

  • Scratching posts
  • Frequent nail trims
  • Positive redirection
  • Making furniture and other items undesirable
  • Synthetic nail caps