My cat is a scratcher. Is declawing ever recommended?
Onychectomy, better known as declawing, is an operation where a cat’s claws are removed by amputating the distal phalangeal (toe tip) bones from the end of the digits. Once a common surgical procedure, feline declawing has become a sensitive and controversial topic. It is illegal in some cities and counties, as well as most European countries, and in areas where it is legal, some veterinarians refuse to perform the surgery on the grounds that it is animal cruelty.
Many people do not realize claw sharpening is a natural behavior, for feline communication and removal of uncomfortable excess keratin “build up” on the nail base. It’s not a deliberately vindictive activity.
While certain medical conditions may call for onychectomy — traumatic injury, tumors, chronic infections or inflammatory conditions — elective declawing to curb destructive or aggressive behavior is becoming less common. A more humane approach focuses on behavior modification to reduce problem behavior, encourage scratching on acceptable surfaces, and regular nail trims or application of soft nail caps to limit damage from scratching behavior.