Does Declawing Cats Make Them Depressed?

You may observe behavioral changes in your cat, post-declawing.
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The declawing of cats can be quite a heated topic. Although the surgery may stop a cat from partaking in harmful and destructive scratching behavior, it may also bring upon a variety of other negative consequences -- think serious emotional distress and depression in your little one. Definitely not fun.

Purpose of Claws

A cat's claws are useful to them for a variety of reasons. Not only are they beneficial for self-defense, they also enable cats to partake in the perfectly healthy feline behavior of scratching. When a cat scratches, it isn't a vindictive or hostile act, no matter how frustrated by it you might feel. Scratching also is a means of territorial marking and stretching for exercise.


Depression is indeed a possibility for felines after declawing. The bone-amputation surgery in some cases may drastically change a cat's life. When a cat all of a sudden lacks her primary tools for defense and protection -- her claws -- she may quickly become more anxious, nervous, agitated and antisocial than before. If a declawed cat randomly starts behaving in a depressed manner, it could be because she is feeling helpless and, as a result, utterly and totally scared.


Depression isn't the sole behavioral change you might observe in a newly declawed cat. Even if a cat was previously the most jovial and harmless little fluffball on Earth, you may notice the emergence of unusually aggressive actions in her. When a cat doesn't have her claws, she may instead resort to biting. If she feels totally defenseless, biting may be a way for her to overcompensate and feel stronger. Cat bites can be just as dangerous as scratches, if not more so, so be very careful in these situations.

Medical Problems

The Humane Society of the United States reports that some cats may also experience medical issues as a result of the surgery. The complex surgical procedure calls for bone extraction -- pretty serious stuff -- and is nothing like a simple nail trim. A declawed cat could encounter everything from severe pain to infection. If she is behaving not like herself and in an abnormally depressed way, consider the fact that discomfort is causing it -- and take her to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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