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Journal Article on Pain and Behavior in Declawed Cats

Credit: Nicole Martell-Moran

Credit: Nicole Martell-Moran

According to research published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery declawing increases the risk of a cat suffering long-term or persistent pain, usually resulting in unwanted behaviors such as inappropriate litter box use and aggression such as biting. This study from 2017 is shockingly the first long-term study on the results of declawing.

“This study found that declaw surgery in cats was associated with a significant increase in the odds of developing adverse behaviors, including biting, barbering, aggression and inappropriate elimination, as well as signs of back pain. There was a high prevalence of P3 fragments in declawed animals in this study and this was associated with an increase in all adverse outcomes in these animals compared with the non-surgical controls. As well, declawed cats with retained P3 fragments had higher odds of back pain, inappropriate elimination and aggression when compared with declawed cats without retained fragments. Although cats receiving optimal surgical technique had fewer adverse outcomes and lower odds of these outcomes being present, these animals were still at increased odds of biting and undesirable habits of elimination as compared with non-surgical controls. We propose that persistent pain and discomfort subsequent to declaw surgery is an important risk factor for the development of behavioral changes such as biting, aggression, barbering and inappropriate elimination. These are common reasons for the relinquishment of cats to shelters. In view of these findings, the ongoing practice of declawing cats in North America should be further questioned.”

Read the full article here: 

Martell-Moran NK, Solano M and Townsend HGG. Pain and adverse behavior in declawed cats. J Feline Med Surg.