Keep the Claws in the Paws (Declawed Cats and Feral Colonies)

When you think about declawing, the cats in a feral colony are not the first animals to come to mind. It seems like this would be an issue for the household cat. Unfortunately, declawed cats are not a rarity in the feral colonies. Declawed cats are dumped because of spraying or biting issues. They are especially vulnerable on their own without their claws.

The Procedure

The Paw Project’s mission is to educate the public about the painful and crippling effects of feline declawing, to promote animal welfare through the abolition of the practice of declaw surgery, and to rehabilitate cats that have been declawed. According to The Paw Project’s web site:

Declawing is amputation; it is not merely the removal of the claws. To declaw a cat, the veterinarian cuts off the last knuckles of a cat’s paw – cutting through bone, tendons, skin and nerves. In a person, it is equivalent to amputating each finger or toe at the last joint. Declaw surgery can be an extremely painful procedure with associated health risks and complications such as infection. Declaw surgery can produce permanent lameness, pain or arthritis.

Behaviors of the Declawed Cat

As discussed in The New Natural Cat: A Complete Guide for Finicky Owners by Anitra Frazier and Norma Eckroate, 1990 (the current edition is available here on

A declawed cat is, in reality, a clubfooted animal. He cannot walk normally but must forever after move with his weight back on the rear of his pads. Posture is irrevocably altered, and gone is the easeful grace that is his birthright. Because they are defenseless, declawed cats live in a constant state of stress. This is very draining and, because of the constant stress, these cats are more prone to disease (95). The physical effect of declawing is gradual weakening of the muscles of the legs, shoulders, and back. Balance is impaired. The cat is 75 percent defenseless. Cats don’t defend themselves with their teeth, they defend themselves with their claws (94).

Declawed Cats and Feral Colonies

The same owners who have their cats declawed because of being impatient about training their cats to use a scratching post instead of the furniture are similarly impatient about the consequences of declawing. They find out that declawed cats are more likely to not use the litter box, as it hurts their feet, or might start biting, a natural reaction when they no longer have their claws and they are in pain. These owners are often looking for “someone” to give their cat a good home—but it is pretty hard to find a home for a cat who pees on things or bites you. Abandonment—which should NEVER be an option—happens. Thus, declawed cats find their way to the feral colonies.

The declawed cat below was found living feral and has been rescued. His story will be on our Facebook site.

jennifer's declaw 2

What Can You Do?

The Paw Project is actively trying to stop this practice. They provide several ways to help on this page. Help can take the form of liking their Facebook page, boycotting veterinarians that perform this procedure, or holding a fundraiser. In a nice way, educate your friends and family, or people who are adopting and planning on declawing. Many people simply do not understand declawing is not a simple remove a claw procedure. It is a painful amputation of the cat’s “fingers,” and is inhumane. If you know of a vet who does not declaw, please share with us! We’ll start a page specifically for this information (e-mail us at! Thank you for your assistance with this issue!

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