Declawing Cats: Humane Alternatives - Michigan Humane Society

Declawing Cats: Humane Alternatives

While scratching is natural behavior for cats, it can often cause problems for their guardians. For years the standard solution was to declaw cats. This painful surgical procedure involves the amputation of the last bone of the toe from which the nail grows. The Michigan Humane Society encourages cat guardians to consider these humane alternatives.

Buy or make a scratching post and teach your cat that this is where appropriate scratching is to be done. The size and shape of the scratching post does not matter. Some cats prefer to scratch a post covered with carpeting, while others like sisal rope or variegated cardboard.

If your companion animal starts to scratch furniture, carefully pull him away and place his front paws on the scratching post. If he is seen scratching furniture, a squirt of plain water (not hot) from a squirt gun or spray bottle (anywhere but in the face), accompanied by a sharp “NO,” is a deterrent.

Scratching posts should be placed in the areas where your cat has been scratching, such as near the couch, chairs, drapes, carpeting, etc. Others should be placed in the areas where he sleeps. Cats usually like to scratch and stretch upon waking. You can encourage a cat to use a scratching post by placing his favorite toy on top, dangling it over the side or by rubbing the sides with catnip.


Keeping the nails trimmed greatly decreases potential damage. Beginning to trim a cat’s nails at an early age and making it a weekly habit is the best procedure. Your companion animal’s veterinarian can show you how to trim the nails safely.

Soft Paws Nail Caps for Cats®
This product is a humane alternative to declawing. Developed by veterinarians, Soft Paws® are vinyl caps that keep the cat’s nails covered, and therefore harmless, 4 - 5 times longer than routine nail trimming. The application is painless and simple for veterinary staff to perform in the office. In fact, they can show you how to apply Soft Paws® which then can be done at home with a Soft Paws Take Home Kit®. Plastic tips are glued onto your cat’s nails (much like false nails) and usually need to be reapplied every 4 - 6 weeks because tips will naturally fall off with wear and nail growth. Soft Paws® are available in 4 cat claw sizes and come in natural and colors.


  • Older cats at risk for declawing
  • Kittens too young to be declawed
  • Feline skin conditions irritated by hind claw scratching
  • Destructive claw sharpening in the home
  • Unintentional injuries to family members caused by playful cats

    REMEMBER: Even the most closely watched indoor cat will be unable to protect himself outside if declawed.

    For information on preventing scratching or other pet behavior questions, call the Michigan Humane Society Pet Education Center Behavior Help Line at (248) 650-0127. On receipt of your message, we will return your call within 48 hours.

    Michigan Humane Society
    Veterinary Centers
    Detroit - (313) 872-0004
    Rochester Hills - (248) 852-7424
    Westland - (734) 721-4195

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