Spaying and Neutering vs. Declawing: Which Surgeries Are Humane?

Why is neutering humane but declawing isn’t?

Sometimes during the discussion of why declawing cats is inhumane, the subject of other surgeries, especially those that neuter the cat, comes up. People wonder if having their female cat spayed or their male cat castrated is also inhumane. Here, we discuss the reasons we at feel that neutering surgeries are humane while declawing is not.

Declawing Is 10 to 18 Separate Amputations

Cats' claws are different from humans' nails. Claws grow directly out of the end of the toe bones rather than on top of the digit like a nail does. A declaw surgery is actually the amputation of the ends of the cat's toes. That means that, if the fronts alone are done, the cat experiences 10 amputation sites; 18 if all four feet are declawed.

Cats are digitigrade animals. That means that, rather than walking on the soles of their feet like we do, they walk on their toes. The rest of their musculoskeletal system is set up to distribute weight across their toes as they walk, jump, exercise, and play. When the last digits of cats' toes are removed, it changes the natural angle of how their feet contact the ground. This, in turn, changes the angle all the way up their legs, shoulders, necks, and backs. The result is decreased ability to move normally and chronic pain similar to when a person routinely wears shoes that disrupt their normal foot conformation.

Additionally, as soon as a cat wakes up from surgery, he needs to walk on these amputation sites, which is extremely painful. Declaws have high rates of complications, including opening of the incisions, infection, and regrowth of abnormal claws through the closed skin.

Cats often have long-term limping and develop arthritis after declaw surgeries. They also have a high rate of developing inappropriate urination because digging in the litter box causes them pain immediately after surgery, which they can associate with the box.

You can learn more about declaw surgery at

Neutering Is Soft Tissue Surgery, and the Cat Doesn't Bear Weight on the Sites

Soft tissue surgeries in humans usually do not result in as much pain as amputation surgeries, so the same is likely true in cats. Spay and neuter surgeries are soft tissue surgeries, and the cat doesn't have to walk on the surgery site immediately after recovery from anesthesia. They do not show long-term residual pain, fewer complications are associated with these surgeries, and they don't get crippling arthritis as a result of them.

Declawing Is Strictly for Humans' Benefits

There is no benefit to declaw surgery for the cat. It is only in extremely rare situations of claw problems like cancer that a single claw declaw might be for the cat's health benefit. Otherwise, declaws are done completely for the benefit of humans who don't wish to deal with cat scratching damage to their homes, property, or bodies.

While it is understandable that people want to avoid cat scratching problems, there are effective ways to keep a cat from scratching unwanted items without declawing. Because declaw surgeries are so painful and have such a high rate of unwanted and lasting side effects, and because they are for humans' benefit only, they are inhumane.

Neutering Benefits Cats as Well as Humans

Neutering benefits cats, not just people. Male cats that are neutered avoid testicular cancer. Female cats that are spayed before their first heat have dramatically lower rates of mammary cancer, no uterine cancer, and no risk of pyometra. Cats also don't develop hormonally-induced behavior problems like marking in the house and they don't try to escape and become endangered outside while they're in heat or trying to find females in heat.

Beyond that, spaying and neutering has a drastic positive effect on the population of unwanted cats in this country. Euthanasia rates in shelters are high, and spaying and neutering can help us get control of this upsetting problem.

Declawing Cats: Alternatives to an Inhumane Procedure

Fascinating Facts About Cat Claws

Walk Through a Declaw Surgery with a Kitten

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