Ask the Vet’s Pets: Clawless Cats

Dr. Lee Pickett offers advice on the problem with declawing your cat.


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Ask The Vet’s Pets is written by Daisy Dog and Christopher Cat, with a little help from Dr. Lee Pickett, VMD. Send questions to Daisy and Christopher at [email protected] and read more online at

Dear Christopher Cat: I live in New York, where the state just outlawed declawing. My adult cats are declawed, but I recently adopted a kitten who isn’t. How can I prevent her from scratching my furniture?

Christopher Responds: Scratching is a normal feline behavior. One way to protect your furniture is to regularly trim your cat’s claws. The cats in our family were adopted as adults, and our mom used special treats and yummy food to accustom us to the procedure. Try FeliScratch and Feliway innovative visual and pheromone markers that help train cats where to scratch.

If your cat scratches elsewhere, cover the area with double-stick tape or aluminum foil.

Alternatively, you can cover the claws with plastic nail caps, which last four to six weeks. If you have trouble applying them, your veterinary team can do it for you.

Declawing is rejected by many veterinarians and cat lovers as cruel, because it requires amputation of each toe’s third bone, from which the claw grows. It’s like amputating each human finger at the first joint.

Research shows that declawing leads to chronic pain in one percent of cats. Since one in four of the nation’s 96 million household cats undergoes declaw surgery, that’s 240,000 cats with surgically induced chronic pain.

Declawing is illegal in most of the developed world, including the countries of Europe, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil.

In the U.S., it’s not just New York that plans to ban declawing. Earlier this year, the New Jersey Assembly passed a similar bill, which still must go through the state Senate.

Some California cities, including Los Angeles, already outlaw cat declawing. Opponents claimed it would lead to increased abandonments and euthanasia, but that hasn’t happened.

See more at

This article is featured in the September/October 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening PostSubscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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  1. Excellent advice all around. 240,000 cats in the U.S. living with chronic pain and suffering from declawing, completely helpless, is heartbreaking. It’s animal cruelty I find outrageous, inexcusable and unforgivable. It needs to stop completely, in all 50 states.

    I was pleased to read that my city, Los Angeles, Ca., is (for once!) finally leading the nation in something so vitally important to our wonderful animals. It’s high time it started contributing SOMETHING positive for a change.


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