New Study Reveals Long-Term Side Effects Of Declawing Cats

Written by: Adri Sandoval
Adri Sandoval is the Special Projects Manager for iHeartDogs and iHeartCats. Her work has deepened her love for animals, fostering a strong passion for rescue and animal advocacy.Read more
| Published on May 27, 2017

Cat lovers appreciate every part of a feline, from their soft velvety ears to their sharp – and at times, destructive – claws. We know that their scratching is not meant to be malicious, but it’s a natural instinct that’s ingrained in their DNA.

While we may try to direct where they scratch, having their claws surgically removed can be traumatic. It’s more than just a procedure extracting the nail. In fact, it’s an amputation, and it can lead to long-term medical and behavioral issues down the road.

Findings of a recent study in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery reveal that declawing surgery causes cats pain long after the post-op “healing process” is over (assuming that there are no complications). In an analysis of 137 declawed cats versus 137 kitties with claws intact, there were “significant increases in the odds of back pain” for declawed cats, according to the study. This can be attributed to a cat’s gait being thrown off-balance once its claws are removed.

Aside from physical problems, the procedure can lead to many behavior issues. The study pointed out that the declawed subjects tended to be more aggressive than their counterparts. This is because without claws, cats are missing a fundamental defense mechanism.

This causes extreme stress, which can manifest itself in over-grooming, aggression, and even refusal to use the litter box. (If you had your knuckles removed, wouldn’t you be cranky, too?)

Not knowing the source of these issues, frustrated cat parents may give up on their pets and surrender them to the shelter, where the kitties experience even more fear and anxiety.

It’s no wonder that many countries, especially in Europe, have outlawed declawing procedures. Meanwhile, there are only a few cities in the US that have banned the practice, although opposers are pushing to get more laws passed.

If you love and appreciate your cats for their quirky personalities and instincts, you know that declawing would deprive them of their feline tendencies. This study is further proof that humans should just let cats be who they are!

For more info, check out “7 Reasons To Never Declaw Your Cat.”

Read the full study here.