4 Easy and Stress-free Alternatives to Declawing Cats

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What is Declawing a Cat?

Declawing refers to the permanent removal of cats’ claws by a surgical process. Many cat owners mistake this as trimming or clipping their nails but the fact is declawing is an extremely painful amputation of the front part of the toe from where the nails grow. This extreme procedure was unfortunately quite common until many countries recognized it as inhumane and thus made it illegal.  

Why do people declaw cats?

Cats are declawed to prevent damage to the furniture, doors, carpet or other things and also just so people don’t get scratched by the cat. While some cat owners consider declawing an antidote for behavioral problems, some people also get this done as a ‘preventative’ as they don’t wish to train their cat. Unfortunately, this cruelty is even recommended by some vets.

Are Declawed cats in pain?

Declawing is a complex surgical procedure. It involves cutting through the skin around the toes, muscle tendons, multiple amputations of the nerves and blood vessels. After the anaesthesia wears off, they may experience excruciating pain as cats’ nervous systems are similar to that of humans. The human equivalent of declawing would be similar to amputating a part of our fingers. You can imagine how painful it must be that it’s banned in many countries.

Does declawing a cat cause behavior problems?

People think declawing is a “quick-fix” to prevent their cats from scratching, but infact besides being painful, it can potentially cause long term medical and/or behavioral complications in cats. Many cat owners have learnt it the hard way that behavioral problems are usually far worse as a result of declawing than before the surgery. For instance, it’s far too common in declawed cats to start biting or going outside the litter box. Litter box problems are almost a given after declawing. A change in personality is often noticed in declawed cats. They tend to become fearful and aloof as they deal with the painful life-long consequences of declawing. As a result, unfortunately many cats get abandoned due to behavior problems arising out of declawing.

What are some pain-free alternatives to declawing a cat?

As a responsible pet parent, knowing that declawing is such an inhumane and insensitive approach to prevent your cat from scratching is the most important part. Next, you may try one of these pain-free, cat declawing alternatives that still works perfectly to stop your cat from scratching and damaging your property. 

Nail Trimming

Let’s face it. No one really likes the task of trimming their cats’ nails. But the upside is you don’t have to do it every other day. Once you give a good trim, it’s good for a few weeks. Though it’s important that you handle their paws on a daily basis to get them comfortable with trusting you with their paws when you have to clip their nails. Bribing with a treat afterwards works in most cases and you may find that in anticipation of a treat, it becomes a learned habit to co-operate while you trim their nails, .

That said, not all cats are comfortable with the idea of getting a nail trim. Anxious cats may try to run away or even get hostile at the first sight of a nail clipper. In such cases, it’s important to restrict the free movement of the cat. This can be done by holding up the skin at the back of the neck and/or wrapping the cat with a towel to prevent them from scratching. If you don’t want to freak them out too much, there’s always the option of getting it done professionally by a pet groomer.

Use Nail Caps

Vinyl nail caps resemble cats’ nails and are hollow on the inside and contain non-toxic glue that stick to the nails. Soft Paws Nail caps for cats is an innovative solution that effectively prevents cats from scratching and damaging. They provide a shield against the sharp part of the claws yet allowing them to walk, play and engage in everyday activities. They are effective for about 4-6 weeks at a time before they fall off.

Get a Scratching Post

Scratching is a natural part of being a cat and it’s their way to keep their nails healthy and sharp as it’s one of their vital defence mechanism. Instead of getting them to stop scratching altogether, provide a cat scratching post or a cat tree with a scratchable surface. Anytime your cat is scratching something you don’t want them to, simply re-direct them to the scratching post. (Read: How to Train your Cat to use a Scratching Post) Reward your cat with a treat every time they use the scratching post. The cat will get it after a few times of doing this.  


Feliway is a pheromone spray for cats that helps them calm down. Many cat parents have reported excellent results using Feliway.


As cat owners it’s our responsibility to make sure that our cats’ energy is expended on a daily basis in a constructive way like running, hunting and playing. And, scratching is a big part of all this. With a little bit of training and positive reinforcement, your cat can quickly unlearn destructive behaviors like scratching furniture. Even if your cat’s scratching has gotten out of hand, fortunately there are enough humane alternatives that there really is no reason to de-claw your cats. 

Thanks for sharing. You're pawsome!

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