Declawing - a sore point

Having a set of little kittie claws stuck in my hands, arms and legs every other day isn't much fun - however that is Sasquatches' way of learning to hunt and make the best of the tools nature has given him. In some countries Sasquatch would be taken to the veterinarian and surgically declawed to save his owner the inconvenience of scratched up furniture, wall and anything else a their beloved pet might potentially damage. In New Zealand under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 - the declawing of cats and dogs is considered a Restricted Surgical Procedure . Under this section of the act a veterinarian is required under ethical grounds to perform this drastic procedure only if it is of benefit to the welfare of the animal concerned i.e. for medical reasons only if the animal concerned has for instance an infected claw bone and it would require removal to prevent further complications. This issue came to light recently in 2008 from a MAF investigation into the conditions and welfare of the large cats being kept at Zion Wildlife Gardens. Yet to be resolved and the report issued later this year is the declawing by the previous Zion management of a great majority of the animals in their care. Was it necessary? Most likely not - nor would it have been pleasant for the animals affected by the declawing procedure.

Veterinarian Christianne Schelling D.V.M describes declawing or Onychectomy Surgery as follows:

"Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat's "toes".
When you envision that, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. It is a painful surgery, with a painful recovery period. And remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery your cat would still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing.

In the wild claws for large feline predators are essential as both defence and a means in which to effectively hunt, bring down and kill their prey. Declawing effectively removes both their ability to both defend themselves and for having any change of future release through a rewilding programme.

Barbary Lion Eating (Shia), Zion Wildlife Gardens, Whangarei, NZ

Barbary Lion Shia at Zion Wildlife Gardens

The view of the Association of Veterinarians for Animals Rights on the practice of declawing concurs with that of that of Dr Schellings'

"A major concern that the AVAR has about declawing is the attitude that is evident in this situation. The cat is treated as if he or she is an inanimate object who can be modified, even to the point of surgical mutilation, to suit a person's perception of what a cat should be. It would seem more ethical and humane to accept that claws and scratching are inherent feline attributes, and to adjust one's life accordingly if a cat is desired as a companion. If this is unacceptable, then perhaps a different companion would be in order."

Below is a detailed description of how a cats anatomy is constructed for balancing on its toes and the effects declawing can have..

Unlike most mammals who walk on the soles of the paws or feet, cats are digitigrade, which means they walk on their toes. Their back, shoulder, paw and leg joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves are naturally designed to support and distribute the cat's weight across its toes as it walks, runs and climbs. A cat's claws are used for balance, for exercising, and for stretching the muscles in their legs, back, shoulders, and paws. They stretch these muscles by digging their claws into a surface and pulling back against their own clawhold - similar to isometric exercising for humans. This is the only way a cat can exercise, stretch and tone the muscles of its back and shoulders. The toes help the foot meet the ground at a precise angle to keep the leg, shoulder and back muscles and joints in proper alignment. Removal of the last digits of the toes drastically alters the conformation of their feet and causes the feet to meet the ground at an unnatural angle that can cause back pain similar to that in humans caused by wearing improper shoes.
For the big cats at Zion the decision made for them was nothing short of inhumane. I put it to those who have followed the Lion Man Series to defend this practice as being justified. Would they do this to their own adored pets? I doubt it. And while the many fans are ready and willing to defend the man behind the series in his bid to regain control over the park and the animals concerned - are they willing to read this post and see what the Zion Big Cats had to endure in order to perhaps make them less dangerous. The reasons behind that decision I truly don't know but my opinion is - it was the wrong decision to make and a bad one at that.
A blogger in the UK and a former veterinary nurse has kindly provided this petition link to have declawing banned. She felt strongly enough to leave a comment and tell me how she felt. I concur.

Further Reading: Declawing: What you need to know


  1. De-clawing sucks, and those who do it to their pets short of major health reasons for the animal suck as well. I've been clawed, gouged, ripped and poked by kitty cat claws for most of my life -- yeah, it hurts, but no one should be messin' with the felines.

    Just my tuppenceworth.

  2. Tuppence worth she says. No more like a few thousand dollars worth of healthy opinion. Mind those war scars there....Declawing has to be one of the most barbaric inhumane things to do to animals - apart from if it's a drastic serious health issue. As you said other than that the people that do it..suck.

  3. Had a Burmese once on loan for a short while
    Been declawed and unable to defend his territory
    How would we feel if we had the ends of our fingers chopped off!

  4. Gawd, like Lisa I've been clawed, scratched and gouged by cats since I was a small kid - hasn't left me psychologically shattered, has taught me cat body language and every cat who has owned me has had a healthy set of claws to get about with his/her own business of life.

  5. Hi Jayne. Yeah cats that owned me too had their claws well and truly hooked into me. I hate cruelty at least we aren't all on that list...

  6. Yes declawing certainly sucks ! Why on earth do people get cats if they don't like it that they have claws ! Cats are born with claws because they need them.This cruel procedure which cripples cats physically and mentally MUST be stopped
    retired vet nurse in England where declawing is banned.

  7. Hello Katt

    Thank you so much for your comment and for the link. I'll add that to the post. I agree it should be made illegal completely unless it's a drastic life threatening health issue and even then the vet doing it should think very very hard. MAF here are currently investigating the vet that did the procedures on the Zion lions and tigers. And yes the effects on the animals that are declawed are devastating. Terrible and totally inhumane.

    All the best

  8. What gets me is that it isn't a secret that cats come with claws so why get a cat and then alter it! Just get a stuffed toy.
    Anyone declawing any cat, small or large, is a total moron.

  9. Hi Barbara - Well said! I have three cats here all with claws and the youngest one just loves to use me as his victim

    Thanks for commenting. I think this declawing issue has become a major sore point with me since I read about Craig Busch aka the Lion Man having over 30 of his Lions and tigers declawed. MAF are investigating him and the vet that did it. Not necessary and I signed the petition Katt mentioned. I hope it is stopped completely. Cruel, brutal and inhumane.

    Take care

  10. Craig Busch is believed to be currently hiding out at Paradise Wildlife Park in England where he is explaining why it is good to amputate big cats claws.
    I hope a big cat eats his testes while he watches.

  11. So I understand. He made an appearance on December 19 as I recall at PWP. Interesting to note that the American Veterinary Medical Association put out a policy statement in 2004 stating that the declawing of Exotic and Captive Wild Indigenous Cats was not longer considered proper veterinary practice. They cited size, weight and the environments these animals were being kept in and also that it commonly caused detrimental effects on the animals subjected to such procedures.

    Declawing is wrong and inhumane.


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