13, rue des Cerisiers (Gaspé, QC) G4X 2M1
Clinique vétérinaire Ève Woods-Lavoie inc.
24/7 soins d'urgence
418 368-2288

Cat Declawing

Please note that cat declawing is no longer practiced
at Veterinary Clinic Ève Woods-Lavoie inc.

Feline declawing: think about it!

Many owners think about declawing their cat after having adopted it. Did you know that, like any surgery, this procedure carries some risks of complications? Let us explain what exactly declawing is, and what alternatives exist.

What is declawing?

Onyxectomy, or declawing, is a surgical procedure that is not medically necessary and carries risks of complications. The procedure consists of an amputation of the third phalanx of the finger (small bone located at the end of each finger of the cat).

Possible complications

  • Pain and chronic lameness
  • Hemorrhage
  • Infections
  • Behavioral changes
    • Uncleanliness
    • Isolation
    • Anxiety
    • Bites
    • Aggression

After the operation, the weight of the animal rests more on the second phalanx, which can cause discomfort. In addition, this surgical procedure can lead to a deformity (contracture) of the fingers that causes pain when walking. This is an intervention that should not be taken lightly and it is important to consider the other options before resorting to them.


Living with a cat that has its claws may require some adaptation. Fortunately, with positive reinforcement and some effort, your cat can learn to scratch where it is needed.

Frequent claw trimming is the first habit to integrate into your routine to cohabit with your cat without declawing. In general, the size of the claws should be done every two or three weeks at the beginning and then once every one to two months as needed. We advise you to accustom your cat to the handling of claws and legs at a young age (in case you adopt a young cat. If you do not know or do not want to attempt to cut the nails, we can show you this simple technique. Smart tip: offering treats to the cat during handling can do wonders.

The use of a scratching post makes it possible to satisfy the natural need of the cat to make its claws. To attract your cat to the scratching post, consider applying catnip. What is important to remember is that you must teach your cat to use the scratching post. Take the time to encourage him to use it and reward him for doing positive action. The scratching post must be a fun place. Once he has become accustomed to using his scratching post, place it in a prominent area of yours, and his, living space. Why? Because one of the reasons cats scratch is to mark their territory, so the post has to be in the places your cat likes to be. Physical punishments are misunderstood by the cat and will reinforce his anxiety and scratches on the part of your pet.

To make sure it’s used by your cat, your scratching post should be:

  • High enough (about 95 cm) so that the cat can lie down fully;
  • Installed at the entrance of the room. If the couch is the first object in it, it is he who will be scratched;
  • Attractive thanks to a toy stick or a little catnip;
  • Stable and solid to prevent it from falling.

Nail Caps look like a cat’s nail, but are hollow inside. The nail caps easily fit over the cat’s nail and are secured with a safe, non-toxic adhesive. Nail caps effectively blunt the claws so that when a cat scratches, no damage occurs. The nail caps stay on for about four to six weeks and fall off with the natural growth of the cat’s nails. They are generally very well tolerated by most cats, with most cats not even noticing they are wearing them. Some cats will groom them a bit excessively at first, resulting in them coming off sooner, but any removed nail caps can be easily replaced.

Using rewards (hugs, treats, etc.) to encourage your cat’s good behavior when he scratched in the right place can be a good complementary strategy to the first two steps.

Feliway is a synthetic analogue of the feline facial pheromone — sounds confusing, but it is really quite simple. Have you seen cats rubbing their cheeks on an object? What they are doing is depositing some of this facial pheromone on the object and marking it as theirs. This feline facial pheromone can also be thought of as a feel good pheromone. Meaning cats sense this pheromone and it has a calming effect.

Cats are territorial by nature, and like to delineate their territorial boundaries. Scratching is one of the ways cat mark their territory. Not only does scratching provide a visual marking of the territory (the shredded material) but also, cats have scent glands on the bottom of their paw pads which deposit a scent discernible only by other cats.

Spraying Feliway on objects you do not want your cat to scratch effectively depositis this feel good pheromone so your cat doesn’t feel the need to scratch the object.

You will still need to provide a scratching post so there is a place for your cat to scratch.

For more information on Feliway, you can visit their website.

Enrichment of the environment
For the cat to reduce the need for marking, stimulate physical activity by playing with it. By giving him toys and a cat tree in which he can climb and explore his environment, can redirect his desire to scratch. Hours of pleasure and love in perspective! The use of pheromone spray (Feliway) can also calm the cat or reduce his anxiety.

Discourage him!
If your cat has chosen your couch or other piece of furniture, make the object less attractive by installing a plastic sheet, foil or tape on both sides, until he is no longer interested. Install the scratching post near this piece of furniture so that your cat favors it when it makes its claws.


Reduce the risk of scratching, it’s possible!

By educating children to recognize and respect the body language of the cat, the risk of scratching diminishes. A cat that scolds, spits, whips its tail or flattens its ears wants to be left alone. Another winning strategy is to define a place in the house where your cat can relax and not be bothered.


Does declawing decrease the risk of abandonment?

In fact, many declawed cats are also abandoned. The most common causes of abandonment are aggression and uncleanliness. In addition, according to a 2002 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, only 3.3% of cats are abandoned for destruction of furniture or unwanted behavior.