Kind, easy, & effective solutions for peacefully living with cat claws & natural scratching. 
Cat claws should never have to lead to property damage, declawing, or relinquishment!

celebrate claws - cats do!

"There is ample evidence that declawing does result in increased biting and litter box avoidance, the behaviors that scientific researchers and shelter workers agree are the most common behavioral problems cited as reasons for relinquishment.
Since 1966 there have been only six articles in the US veterinary literature, including one by a Canadian veterinarian, that examined the behavioral effects of declawing.

The first (Bennett, et al.), looked at only 25 declawed cats, but reported that
declawed cats were 18.5% more likely than non-declawed cat to bite and 15.6% more likely to avoid the litter box.
Morgan and Houpt found that the 24 declawed cats in their internet survey had a 40% higher incidence of house soiling than non-declawed cats.
Borchelt and Voith, looking only at aggressive behavior in a retrospective survey of pet owners, found
declawed cats bit family members more often than did non-declawed cats.
In a retrospective phone survey, Patronek found that among 218 cats relinquished to a shelter,
of declawed cats versus 29.1% of non-clawed cats were reported to have inappropriate elimination..."
Dr. Jennifer Conrad, DVM, The Paw Project,

In a study published in the January, 2001 JAVMA, 33% of 39 (1 in 3) cats that underwent onychectomy developed "at least" one behavior problem immediately after surgery, with the most common problems being litter box problems and biting. 

"Declawing and Science - A Summary Of The Facts" by Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM 
A compilation and truthful analysis of the declaw study findings

IMPORTANT NOTE: Despite the above findings in the small studies done on declawing thus far, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) position statement on declawing states there is no scientific evidence that declawed paws can lead to, or develop into, behavioral problems for a cat. Nor do they acknowledge the compelling observations & anecdotal evidence of this connection from cat parents and shelter workers across the country (see below). Other vets say that a large, long-term, variable controlled, reliable study to analyze this connection and track declawed cats has not yet been conducted and more studies need to be done on this subject. Declawing is now a $3 billion a year industry for the North American vet community.
Small studies done on declawing gathered by Gary Patronek, DVM, PhD, as published in the Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress,Vancouver 2001 can be found here:   


"Gail Golab, PhD, DVM, is a staff consultant for animal welfare and behavior issues, at the American Veterinary Medial Association..."There isn't enough reliable data on which to base sweeping claims about the long-term impacts of declawing, Golab says..."there is not enough well-designed research published in reputable journals for vets to be able to state what percentage of cats have physical complications from declawing...",  "Will Declawing Harm Your Cat?"

"The Landsberg article is particularly weak.  It was a non-blinded, retrospective survey administered to vets (by a vet) which asked the vet to make a guess whether the pet owner would have relinquished the animal because of scratching behavior...when Landsberg asked pet owners themselves, only 4% of the owners said they would have relinquished the cat for scratching behavior." The Paw Project,
Dr. Patronek DVM, PhD of Tufts University stated in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) in 2001, "It seems unthinkable that an elective surgery performed on a quarter of owned cats could lack definitive evaluation, but that appears to be the case...Information about long-term behavioral outcomes of onychectomy in a population of client-owned animals declawed by experienced surgeons using the best surgical and analgesic protocols is desperately needed....Unfortunately, the results for declawed cats were quite equivocal...Some cats may also exhbit behavior problems in the longer term, including soiling and aggression. We have no idea what the frequency of this is, or how to identify cats at risk. We don't know if these problems are related to the declawing procedure per se, or to poor technique for the procedure, or is a spurious association. The only way to definitively answer the question is a long-term prospective trial. So since we really don't know, the best advice is probably to discourage the procedure up front and counsel clients to try other things."

In a commentary of the Yeon article, Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine Professor Nicholas Dodman, DVM, MRCVS, DACVB writes,"It is amazing that none of the studies to date on declawing has addressed the right questions to the right persons and drawn the right conclusions. This study is no exception. Owners are an unreliable source of information about their pets, especially months or years after the fact. …Almost one-half of the cats in the study required post-operative opioids to control pain following surgery, and the remainder would have probably benefited from it. The owners reported that one-half to two-thirds of the cats in this study showed signs of pain after surgery, likely only the tip of the iceberg. …In addition, though the authors were more interested in comparison of the two techniques, it is notable that about 30% of all cats developed a behavior problem after surgery, either house soiling or increased biting. Whatever the owners may have assessed, this was not a good outcome. And, to top it all, 42 of 57 cats (74%) had at least one medical complication following surgery. In light of such findings, it is hard to see why veterinarians don't spend more time and effort recommending alternatives to declawing than these painful and sometimes debilitating procedures. Instead, we seem to keep finding ways of justifying declawing as an essential component of feline practice."  
The Paw Project,
WHAT ARE SHELTER WORKERS, VETERINARIANS, & CAT CONSULTANTS saying about declawed cats exhibiting negative litterbox and biting behaviors?

 WHY CATS ARE RELINQUISHED FROM THE HOME SURVEYS (IMPORTANT NOTE: litterbox avoidance and aggression are the two leading causes of relinquishment (not scratching), the two negative behaviors most associated with declawed cats).

***..."declawed cats are more likely to be relinquished than normal cats...Unwanted behavior is a major factor in reliquishment of cats to shelters. House-soiling, aggression, and biting are the top 3 reasons why cats are surrendered; as noted, these are the very same problems that 1 in 3 declawed cats will develop after surgery." Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM

***Published 2/1/03 on, "Eighty percent of the  that are surrendered that are declawed are euthanized because they have a behavioral problem…. Declawed cats frequently become biters and also stop using litter boxes… One or the other…,” said William Lombardi shelter director, Gloucester County, New Jersey.

***“Gloucester County Animal Shelter, says Lombardi, who’s been the director for three years and an animal control officer for 25, Cats with claws, he says, are always surrendered for human-related issues, mainly “moving and can’t take the cat with us.” Declawed cats, on the other hand, have behavior problems, and most who come in end up having to be euthanized. Even when Lombardi works with declawed cats and tries to place them in new homes, they often come back to the shelter for not using the litter box”.…”Almost all of our hotline calls are declawed cats with litter box issues,” says Pat Rock of the Oshkosh Area Humane Society in Wisconsin.” "The Declaw Dilemma", Nancy Lawson  

***Seventy percent (70%) of cats turned in to pounds and shelters for behavioral problems are declawed. (National Survey from pounds & shelters obtained by Caddo Parrish Forgotten Felines & Friends)  

***From the Summer 2002 issue of PETA’s Animal Times: “A survey by a Delaware animal shelter showed that more than 75% of the cats turned in for avoiding their litter boxes had been declawed.”

***”In my own three-year experience, 95% of calls about declawed cats related to litter box problems, while only 46% of clawed cats had such problems—and most of those were older cats with physical ailments. Of my calls, only declawed cats have cost their owners security deposits, leather sofas and floorboards. And it’s mostly declawed cats that have been prescribed pain killers, anti-depressants, tranquilizers and steroids. Two-thirds of my calls are about litter box problems. In 90% of those cases, the cat is declawed, sick or old. In 7 years, only 3 people have called about a “scratching-the-sofa problem” - yet countless of “healthy” declawed cats have peed on sofas." Annie Bruce, cat consultant & author Cat Be Good,  

***"Another county facility automatically puts down or transfers out any declawed cat, because of the greater likelihood that such cats will exhibit behavior problems such as litterbox avoidance or a propensity for biting"  

***"Declawing does not keep a cat in its home. A declawed cat may lose its home, because of behavior problems that may develop after declawing...Considering all factors in aggregate, statistically, a declawed cat is more likely to be killed in the pound, because it was declawed." Dr. Jennifer Conrad, DVM, The Paw Project,

*** “Behavioral problems frequently haunt declawed cats. By far, the commonest thing we see is cats not using the litterbox. When cats have stress beyond what they can take, it often shows up as a litterbox problem and declawing makes them stress intolerant, in general, for the rest of their lives,” Dr. Harrison, DVM. Dr. Harrison gets 3-12 calls a day about litter box problems in cats and, after ruling out medical problems, 90 percent of the cats with litter box aversion are declawed cats. “Declawing: Behavior Modification or Destructive Surgery”, Animal Issues, 1998

*** “…our cat care coordinator, was becoming increasingly disturbed at the euthanasia rate for declawed cats and decided to conduct an informal study. She discovered that more than 80% of declawed cats that were either returned or owner surrendered that year were done so because of litterbox problems or biting.

*** “In some cases, when declawed cats use the litterbox after surgery, their feet are so tender they associate their new pain with the box...permanently, resulting in a life-long adversion to using the litter box. Other declawed cats that can no longer mark with their claws, they mark with urine instead resulting in inappropriate elimination problems, which in many cases, results in relinquishment of the cats to shelters and ultimately euthanasia. Many of the cats surrendered to shelters are surrendered because of behavioral problems which developed after the cats were declawed. Risk factors for relinquishment of cats to an animal shelter: "Among 218 cats relinquished to a shelter, more (52.4%) declawed cats than non-declawed cats (29.1%) were reported by owners to have inappropriate elimination problems." Source: World Small Animal Veterinary Association – 2001  

"...Colorado Humane Society and SPCA Inc. in Englewood and sees many cats come into the shelter because of litter-box issues. Frequently, the cat has been declawed, making the act of using the box painful.

***"My own queries to shelter personnel show that 20% of all cats entering shelters have already been declawed, and half of these declawed cats do not reach the adoption shelter, as they are screened out at intake as "behavior problems". Harriet Baker, "The Shocking Truth About Declawing Cats", 2003

***2/2007 "...Delaware Humane Association...Declawing also can lead to litter box problems...75 percent of declawed cats in shelters are there because they had issues using their litter boxes. 

***In a study published in the January, 2001 JAVMA, 33% of 39 cats that underwent onychectomy developed "at least" one behavior problem immediately after surgery, with the most common problems being litter box problems and biting. 

*Cocheco Valley Humane Society of Dover, NH annual shelter statistics revealed that there was a high percentage (66-72%) of cats turned in with behavioral problems who were declawed cats. Behavioral problems included improper elimination and aggressiveness. Shelter Sense, 8/1992, "A Cat and His Claws Are Too Often Parted: The Realities of Delawing" by Rhonda Lucas Donalds

*** “Dr. Susan Swanson, DVM, owner of the Cat Care Clinic in Mahtomedi, Minnesota, notes that "year after year, the declawed cats that I see in my practice have higher rates of litter box issues such as inappropriate elimination"…Nearly every shelter and rescue group director in the country makes the same observation. Sore paws that don't feel like digging in the litter may be one reason why declawed cats are more prone to litter box rejection. (The accumulated stress buildup from lack of scratching may also be a contributing factor, as stress is implicated in half of all urinary tract problems).” "Why Cats Need Claws", Gary Lowenthal

*** Based upon conversations with our customers who bought Feliway because their cats were peeing outside of the box I'd say that at least60%, if not closer to 70%, of these people had cats who were declawed..."  Cat Faeries behaviorist and feline territory specialist

*** “Asthma and cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) have also been linked to the stress of declaws…consider the possibility of post-surgery behavior problems – especially litterbox issues and aggression…reports abound among cat owners and some animal behaviorists also notice a link. Karen Overall, VMD, Ph.D a specialist in veterinary medicine, has seen transient aggression and reluctance to use the litterbox after declaw. There is also the issue of trust...Interestingly, the humane society workers have made these claims about declawed cats for years”. "Declaw Details", Dr. Brenda McClelland, DVM, Cat Fancy Magazine Jan 2006 p. 44-47

*** “Chronic physical ailments such as cystitis or skin disorders can be manifestations of a declawed cat’s frustration and stress.” David E. Hartnett, DVM  

*** “…San Francisco Care and Control ("some declawed cats become more nervous biters; others are known to become even more destructive to furniture than before the operation; and many cats stop using the litterbox"), East Bay SPCA ("deprived of their primary form of defense, declawed cats become nervous, fearful, and/or aggressive, often using their only remaining defense, their teeth. Some cats stop using their litter pan. This may be associated to the discomfort of scratching in the litter after the surgery"), and Palo Alto Humane Society ("we have a no-declaw policy"). These organizations and the individuals working there are obviously highly motivated to find each cat a home and do not wish to see the cat returned. They have found that declawed cats, with a disproportionate rate of biting and house soiling, have a relatively low adoption success rate.” Dr. Jennifer Conrad, DVM The Paw Project,  

***In a recent study published October, 2001, JAVMA by Dr. Gary J. Patronek, VMD, PhD., “…declawed cats were at an increased risk of relinquishment.”

***"One problem we have is people get their cats de-clawed," he said. "De-clawing a cat is like cutting off the end of your finger. When you de-claw a cat, you remove digits. When the cat gets older, it stops using the litter box because the litter gets stuck between its toes and the cat doesn't like it. A lot of older cats are surrendered because they stop using the litter box and people don't want to clean up after them."  
St. Louis, MO humane shelter 2/2007

***According to a pain management article from 2005, Dr. Gaynor, DVM states, "It is becoming more and more apparent that the number of feline patients who have declaw prodcedures performed have subsequent chronic pain issues...Another client complaint is a cat who just has some behavioral changes which may include decreased activity, decreased appetite, or increased aggression...within days to months to years...".

***"Many cats find it painful to use the litter box, develop a conditioned aversion to using the box, and become un-housebroken. This is why many de-clawed cats are put up for adoption or are euthanized. They may also bite more, and become defensive when handled because their paws are hurting and infected... I have received a few letters from some cat owners who claim that their cats never developed any problems after being de-clawed. But have received many more letters to the contrary, so why run the risk? Dr. Michael W. Fox

***"...Declawing that results in biting or inappropriate elimination outside the litterbox may result in the cat being permanently locked in the basement, dumped at a shelter, or simply abandoned. Many cats are exiled to a life outdoors because of these unwanted behaviors. There, they also risk injury or death by dogs, cars, wild predators, disease, poison, and other hazards of outdoor life; even more so than clawed cats who retain their primary defenses. People who work with feral cat Trap-Neuter-Release programs often find declawed cats in their traps--cats who should never have been outside at all. These cats once had homes, but were abandoned in an alley or field--almost certainly due to behavior problems resulting from declaw surgery. The claim by veterinarians that "declawing keeps cats in their homes" clearly isn't true for these declawed cats who lost their homes and were abandoned to an uncertain fate. There is no way to know how many cats are dumped this way, but based on experiences in Denver, a typical urban environment, the number is likely in the many thousands. "Declawing: A Rational Look" Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM

*...(declaw surgery)..."I've counseled too many cases when these cats becoming biters and/or develop litter box problems due to painful paws" Amy D. Shojai, IAABC Certified Animal Behavior Consultant,  

*Unfortunately, some veterinarians are not aware of the consequences of this procedure...some think the cat will lose its home if they don't declaw it, but if you statistically analyze it, you realize that the cat has a higher chance of losing its home because of the subsequent behavioral changes," Conrad said, "It does not behoove the cat in any way." Dr. Jennifer Conrad, DVM, "Supreme Court Upholds Ban On Declawing", Beverly Press, Vol 17 No. 42, Oct 18, 2007
Aug. 18, 2006, 7:21PM
Declawing may increase biting
United Feature Syndicate
Dear Dr. Fox: I have a Maine coon cat that I adopted from a shelter. He has a disability (his right leg is very short), and I was told he must remain an indoor cat. I had him declawed as well as altered. He is a great companion and very affectionate, although he will not sit on my lap. He has a bad habit of biting my hand when I try to play with him, not hard, more of a nip. I would like to break him of this if I can. He is a little under 2 years old. Does he do this because he has no front claws, or is this a throwback to his wild nature? J.H.C., Schenectady, N.Y.
Dear J.H.C.: It is regrettable that you had your already crippled cat declawed. Declawed cats tend to bite more, in part because their first line of defense, their claws, has been removed. Cat bites are much more dangerous than the occasional scratch because of possible infection. Without claws to hold and manipulate things, declawed cats tend to become more oral, mouthing
and chewing more.
DR. MICHAEL FOX                                         
United Feature Syndicate
200 Madison Ave.
New York, NY 10016                                    

***According to the “Top Ten Reasons for Pet Relinquishment to Shelters in the United States" survey done by the NCPPSP, "house soling" is in the top 10 reasons cats were relinquished from their homes and scratching or property damage is NOT listed.

1.) Too many in house
2.) Allergies
3.) Moving
4.)Cost of pet maintenance
5.) Landlord issues
6.) No homes for littermates
7.)House soiling
8.) Personal problems
9.) Inadequate facilities
10.) Doesn't get along with other pets

***According to "Behavioral Reasons for Relinquishment of Dogs and Cats to 12 Shelters" (Salman, Hutchinson, & Ruch-Gallie) in the Journal Of Applied Animal Welfare Science 2000, "soils house" was the #1 reason cats were relinquished from the home, and "aggression toward people" was #3.
Table 3 p.96
Soils house=43.2%, Problems between new pet & other pets=18.9%, Aggressive toward people=14.6% 
Destructive inside=12.4%, Aggressive toward animals=12.4%, Bites=9.2%, Disobedient=5.9%, Euthanasia for behavioral reasons=5.4%, Unfriendly=5.4%, Afraid=3.8% 

***According to "Reasons for Removing a Cat from the Household" (Ralston Purina 2000) as tabled in the article "Indoor Cats, Scratching, and the Debate over Declawing: When Normal Pet Behavior Becomes a Problem" (Grier & Peterson), The State of the Animals III:2005, "Eliminating Outside the Litterbox" was the #1 reason cats were relinquished from the home, and "biting people" was #2.
Table 3 p.30
Eliminating Outside the Litterbox=33%, Biting People=14%, Intolerant of Children=11%, Scratching People=11%, Destroying Household or Personal Items=8%

IMAGINE how these statistics would change if every shelter sent home a cardboard scratch pad whith each of their cat adoptions - a scratch pad could eliminate the household damage stats (if they are scratching related and not urine soaking) AND the litterbox stats from a needless declawing!!!

Declawing: It Doesn't Save Lives

Supporters of declawing incorrectly use the argument that declawing saves lives. They maintain that cats who scratch furniture may end in shelters where, in all likelihood, they will be euthanized. However, this claim ignores several important and well documented points.

There is evidence that declawed cats are more likely to be abandoned to shelters and that cats have a greater chance of being relinquished because of behavioral problems caused by declawing, specifically biting and litter box avoidance.

In a 1996 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) article, Dr. Gary Patronek, using multivariate statistical analysis, found that declawed cats had an increased risk of relinquishment and that among relinquished cats, 52.4% of declawed cats were reported to exhibit litter box avoidance, compared to 29.1% of non-declawed cats.

Recent articles have linked declawing with a chronic pain syndrome that results in aggressive behavior. Painful paws may also cause a cat to avoid rough litter...and the litter box. Biting and litter box avoidance are less tolerated by pet owners than scratching, increasing the chance that declawed cats will end up in shelters.

The National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy has reported house soiling (38%), followed by aggression (19%), as the most common behavioral reasons for pet relinquishment. A 2002 JAVMA article by Dr. Janet Scarlett, showed that only 3.3% of cats are relinquished for unwanted scratching.

The Paw Project
Winter 2006 Newsletter


Cat advocates are calling for a systemic overhaul in veterinary education relative to cat care and stewardship. A beginning would be, they submit, the removal of the flagrant misinformation from the so-called authoritative volume, The Cornell Book of Cats. This book and many others falsely state that no negative behavioral (psycological) effects of declawing have been reported. Yet, Cornell staff, themselves, reported in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, January 1, 2001, that 18 of 57 cats subjected to declawing or tendonectomy exhibited at least one behavior problem THAT BEGAN AFTER THE SURGERY: an absolute frequency of 31.57% cats exhibiting negative behavioral sequellae with no statistically significant difference in observed behavioral aberrations between cats subjected to declawing and cats subjected to tendonectomy. Two of the cats, moreover, exhibited prolonged lameness and two would not cover their feces, IN ADDITION TO (1) NOT USING THE LITTER BOX and (2) BITING WITH AN INCREASED FREQUENCY/INTENSITY. One cat had (re)growth of paw/claw tissue that was abnormal/malformed.

Note: Declawing resulted in the same high rate of negative behavioral and physiological sequellae as did tendonectomy. Neither these data nor the dramatic number of negative sequellae, per se, is acknowledged in the authors’ (peer reviewed) conclusion!


Seventy percent (70%) of cats turned in to pounds and shelters for behavioral problems are declawed cats. Twenty-five percent (25%) are purebred (from a national survey obtained by Caddo Parish of Forgotten Felines and Friends).

After adjustment for other variables, i.e., in the multivariate analysis, being declawed and being mixed breed were associated with an increased risk for relinquishment (from JAVMA, Vol. 209, No. 3, Aug. l, 1996: “Risk factors for relinquishment of cats to an animal shelter”) .

Shelter records show that approximately one-half (50%) of declawed cats presented at intake are screened out as having “behavior problems,” and thus do not even get a chance at being adopted. Thus, each declawed cat adopted or waiting adoption represents approximately one other cat whose limbs, dignity AND life were taken.
Some shelter statistics show that only 20 to 30% of declawed cats are deemed to be free of behavior problems that preclude their adoptability. (Compiled from research over 14 years (1993-2007) by Harriet E. Baker, author of The Shocking Truth about Declawing Cats and producer of video, Meowch!

See: (1) , (2) (3) .