Second Chance: Don’t Declaw

Second Chance: Don’t Declaw

Dear Pet Column,

I have a young kitten that likes to scratch furniture and sometimes will scratch me while playing. I would like to get him de-clawed and was wondering if that is a painful procedure?

Signed, Curious About Claws



Dear Curious,

You ask a very important and not well understood question – not well understood in the U.S., but in most developed countries declawing is recognized as totally inhumane and it is prohibited.

Declawing should not be compared to a torn fingernail; it is analogous to an amputation of the last joint of our toes. (You can’t remove the claws without removing part of our bone…) and the procedure involves a painful recovery: remember that while recuperating, your cat still has to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain. Wheelchairs and bedpans are not an option for a cat.

If I have not changed your mind yet, please read on…

Additionally, there are many potential complications and negative implications to this surgery briefly summarized as: chronic pain, lameness, joint stiffness, arthritis, as well as behavioral problems which can later emerge like litterbox avoidance and biting. (We feel pretty helpless without our claws.)  You should also know that our claws can grow back. And last, but NOT least, our primary means of defense is removed with our claws, including our ability to climb to safety…

Need more scientific evidence?  Check out this site.

Although you may know some felines that have undergone the surgery and appear fine (recovery period is typically several weeks, keep in mind the fact that we often try to hide our pain and discomfort at part of our survival instinct. Also please know that our claws help us maintain our balance and grace…

And, there are many simple, pain-free, and less costly alternatives to this awful procedure, #1 being a good ol’ scratching post. Yup, scratching is our natural instinct: it feels soooo good to our muscles and joints and allows us to leave a bit of our scent to mark our “turf.”  Through scratching, we feel emotionally and physically fulfilled – so emotional contentment is something else you take from us with our claws and bones.

However, we are willing to learn where our people parents do and do not like us to scratch. So if you get us a nice tall scratching posts that allow us to stretch our whole bodies, or one of those horizontal strong card-boardy ones, we usually leave your furniture alone (particularly if you add catnip to the scratching posts).

More alternatives to de-clawing can be found at

So, don’t think I am being a pussy cat about this whole de-clawing issue; every single animal humane agency I am familiar with has clear statements against this procedure.

Other good resources to learn more about de-clawing facts include:

My name is Sid Awesome.  I am a claws-intact, six-month-young laid back kitty. I get along great with other cats and am not very bothered by dogs. I am very affectionate with people, even though I started out in a very large group of homeless cats and kittens trying to survive outside on our own. Actually that is why I am affectionate with people – I learned at a very young age how important they are. Now I am waiting for a human family of my own and a lifetime of giving and receiving affection.

Razzle Dazzle

Razzle Dazzle

Or if you are more of a dog person you should come meet Razzle Dazzle. This handsome boy is a little over a year old bull mix who loves to play with other dogs and LOVES people (picture oversized exuberant lap dog). He is learning basic obedience and walks well on leash.

In closing – please pass the word – keep our claws on our paws!

Editor’s note: It’s no secret. The Telluride region is dog heaven. Well, pet heaven. Unless you are one of our furry friends who gets caught in the maw of neglect and abuse. Then heaven is on hold until Second Chance Humane Society comes to the rescue. Second Chance is the region’s nonprofit dedicated to saving animals’ lives and promoting responsible pet parenting and human-animal bond. In her weekly blog, executive director Kelly Goodin profiles at least one, generally two of the many animals now living at the no-kill shelter, Angel Ridge Shelter, a dog and a cat, hoping to find them loving permanent homes. The column is sponsored by Ted Hoff of Cottonwood Ranch & Kennel, who from time to time exercises his skills as a dog whisperer, partnering with Kelly and her staff to help train a particularly challenging animal.

Ted Hoff & Mae

Ted Hoff &  Magnificent Mae

By the by, there is no better place to park your pup or get your pup (or adult dog) trained than Cottonwood whenever you head out of town (for locals) or are heading to town and staying somewhere that does not allow pets. Consider joining Ted’s Very Important Dog (VID) Club for added benies. (Details on Ted’s website.)

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shop are both located in Ridgway, but service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View the shelter pets and services online:

Vetting the Vet: Dr. Michelle Dally. DVM, J.D. is Medical Director of Second Chance Humane Society. She also has a private practice, Dally Veterinary Medicine, 333 S. Elizabeth Street, Ridgway, Colorado. Her service area is  San Miguel Mesas, Placerville, Ridgway, Ouray, and Montrose. For more on Dr. Dally, go here.

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