How To Tell If A Cat Has Been Declawed?

How To Tell If A Cat Has Been Declawed

Some cat owners consider declawing their cats when they are prone to becoming destructive and excessive scratchers. However, the process has been met with distain from cat experts and fanciers alike. The Humane Society of the United States is strongly against the declawing of cats. The organization states that it should only be done for medical cases such as the elimination of cancerous nail bed tumors. In this article, learn how to tell if a cat has been declawed and other helpful information about declawing a cat. 

How to tell if a cat has been declawed?

You can tell that a cat has been declawed when the first row of knuckles on a cat’s paws are amputated and the part where the claw grows has been removed. Declawing is a surgical procedure that needs anesthesia and it is comparable to having the top section of your fingers removed. After undergoing the surgery, cats will usually go through a period of pain and discomfort.  

How is a cat declawed?

These are the common methods of declawing a cat:

Amputating with a scalpel or guillotine clipper

This method is considered the standard method of declawing cats.  The wounds are stitched, or glued together with the surgical glue, and then the feet are bandaged.

By using a laser

With this method, lasers are used to cut through tissue by vaporizing and heating it. 


With this method, the tendon that controls the claws in each toe is cut off or severed.  There may still be claws but the cat cannot control or extend them to scratch. Although this process is not an amputation, the symptoms are similar to declawing. 

Safe alternatives to declawing a cat 

These are the safe alternatives that you can do instead of declawing your cat:

1. Protect your couch and furniture. 

Make tempting surfaces undesirable for your cat. Place aluminum foil on your leather sofa and other furniture that your cat loves to scratch. Double-sided sticky tape and a citrus spray also prevent your cat from scratching furniture. 

2. Consider vinyl nail caps for your cat. 

Vinyl nail caps are like sheaths that cover your pet’s claws. These caps are attached using non-toxic adhesive and are considered safe for cats.  It lets your cat scratch without creating any damage to furniture, carpets and other objects. The caps last for at least six weeks and easily shed with the natural growth of nails. 

3. Trim your cat’s nails regularly. 

Trimming your cat’s nails will prevent your cat from damaging your furniture and walls. However, not all cats are too keen on this and some cats are uncooperative and may become aggressive when you attempt to trim their nails. You may opt to hire a professional groomer if you have ample budget for it, or you may also seek the help of your vet.

Disadvantages of declawing a cat 

These are the disadvantages of declawing  a cat:

  • pain in the paws 
  • infection 
  • tissue necrosis or tissue death 
  • lameness 
  • back pain 
  • regrowth of improperly removed claws 
  • nerve damage 
  • bone spurs 

Shredded newspaper must be used in the litter box instead of the usual litter so the declawed feet won’t become infected. This is usually done during the first few days after surgery. Some cats may stop using the litter box while some may resort to biting since they cannot scratch anymore to defend themselves. Cats become more vulnerable to predators when they go outside and they may also have a hard time climbing trees. 

Is it cruel to declaw a cat?

Yes, it is considered cruel to declaw a cat. It can cause lasting physical problems for them. It could result in lifelong pain and changes in the cat’s gait. Many countries have already banned declawing, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Israel and New Zealand. 

Are declawed cats in pain?

Yes, cats that have just been declawed experience pain. Medication is usually prescribed to manage the pain and cats may also experience bleeding and infection.  One study notes that at least 42% of declawed cats experience long-term pain while at least a quarter of declawed cats are limping. 

Is it inhumane to declaw an indoor cat?

Yes, it is considered inhumane to declaw an indoor cat. It is a painful and risk-filled surgery that benefits cat owners more than cats. Declawing should only be done in rare instances when the claws are afflicted with medical issues. 


Cats scratch at surfaces and items that have desirable texture because it is an instinctive behavior for them. However, some cat owners opt to declaw their cats to prevent damage to their furniture. You can tell that a cat has been declawed when the first knuckle of their toes is amputated, and the part where the claw grows from is removed. 

While declawing has advantages for cat owners, it does more bad than good for cats. It could lead to chronic and life-long pain and some cats may even experience changes in their gait, among many other disadvantages. 

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