Position Statement

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Declawing Cats

American Humane recognizes that scratching is a natural behavior of cats, and that cats may be defenseless without use of their claws if they, intentionally or unintentionally, go outdoors. American Humane perceives the declawing of cats (onychectomy) and the severing of digital tendons (tendonectomy) to be elective surgical procedures, which are without benefit to the cat. Because of postoperative discomfort and pain and potential behavioral or physical effects, American Humane condemns declawing or tendonectomy surgery when it is performed solely for the convenience of the guardian.

People who have a cat that is declawed, or who are considering having a cat declawed, are not necessarily inhumane and may make excellent guardians. However, because the act is irreversible, every effort should be made to explore alternatives to this procedure. Scratching damage to household furnishings can be minimized or avoided by routine clipping of the cat’s claws, using claw covers, or redirecting the cat’s activity to acceptable surfaces. If you have tried all alternatives to solve destructive scratching problems, it is better to declaw the animal than abandon it.