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Why Is Cat Declawing Illegal in Australia?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

woman holding cat's paws

Declawing cats is a contentious issue across the world and it’s actually illegal in Australia. There are strong arguments both for and against cat declawing, but ultimately, it is an unnecessary procedure that causes pain and distress to animals. In this article, we will explore why cat declawing is illegal in Australia.

What Is Cat Declawing?

Cat declawing, also known as onychectomy, is a surgical procedure that involves the amputation of a cat’s claws and the bones of their paws. This process involves the removal of the whole first joint or “knuckle” of each toe. While the surgery is meant to make cats less destructive in the home, it can cause severe pain and long-term health issues.

Cat declawing has been illegal in Australia since 2007. This makes Australia one of the only countries that have a total ban on both at-home and veterinary cat declawing procedures. Under Australian law, anyone who performs cat declawing can face up to 12 months in prison, or a fine of up to $44,000.

close-up of cat paw
Image Credit: patthamapong, Shutterstock

Why Is Cat Declawing Illegal?

The main reason why cat declawing is illegal in Australia is because it’s considered an unnecessary and cruel procedure that puts cats at risk of physical and psychological harm.

Cat declawing causes extreme pain and distress to cats, as well as a host of physical complications. The procedure can cause chronic inflammation, arthritis, infections, nerve damage, lameness and more. It also has an emotional impact on cats because it can leave them feeling vulnerable and exposed without their natural defenses.

The ban on cat declawing in Australia is also a reflection of the country’s strong animal welfare laws. The Australian government believes that animals should be treated with respect and without unnecessary harm or suffering, and it has taken a firm stance against cruel practices like cat declawing.

What Are the Reasons for Declawing a Cat?

Before the ban on cat declawing, some owners may have turned to this procedure as a way to prevent their cats from scratching furniture or carpets. However, there are more humane alternatives that can be used to protect against destructive behavior.

For example, regular nail trimming and training cats to use scratching posts can help reduce or eliminate destructive scratching. These methods are much kinder to cats and don’t require invasive surgery or put them at risk of pain and suffering. Another alternative is to cover your cat’s claws with soft tips, like Soft Paws. They allow cats to use their claws in a natural way without causing damage to your property (or your body!).

blue smoke maine coon cat lying on the couch
Image Credit: Okeanas, Shutterstock

What Are the Long-term Effects of Declawing a Cat?

The long-term effects of cat declawing can be serious and even devastating. Cats who have been declawed may suffer from chronic inflammation, arthritis, infections, nerve damage and other medical problems. They may also experience emotional trauma due to the loss of their claws and feel vulnerable without their natural defense mechanisms.

Do Declawed Cats Have Behavioral Problems?

Declawed cats may experience behavioral issues such as aggression, destructive behavior, and inappropriate elimination. This is because declawing can cause serious physical and psychological pain that can lead to stress in cats. Additionally, when cats feel vulnerable without their claws, this can manifest itself in the form of heightened anxiety or fear.

How Much Does It Cost to Declaw a Cat?

Cat declawing can be an expensive procedure, costing anywhere from $200 to over $1,000. In Australia, where the practice is illegal, it’s impossible to legally access the service and anyone who attempts to do so could face serious legal consequences.

How Much Does It Cost to Provide Vet Care to Deformed Cats?

The cost of providing veterinary care to cats who have been declawed or otherwise suffered from deformities can be high. Treatment for medical issues such as chronic inflammation, infections and other complications related to declawing can be expensive. Additionally, physical therapy may be necessary in order to help the cat regain mobility and prevent additional pain. The cost of vet care for cats with these issues can vary, but it’s likely to be thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your pet.

vet doctor using stethoscope on cat
Image Credit: bmf-foto.de, Shutterstock

Breakdown of Potential Costs:

Declawing Procedure: $200-$1,000
Chronic inflammation treatment: $500-$2,000
Infections and other complications treatment: $500+
Physical therapy: $500+
Pain management: $100+
Overall vet care cost: Potentially thousands of dollars

These costs are just the tip of the iceberg and can vary drastically depending on the individual cat.

What Are Some Nail Care Products for Cats? Alternatives to Declawing

Nail care is an essential part of any cat’s health and welfare. Regular nail trimming is important to help keep cats’ nails healthy and from growing too long. Additionally, there are several products available that can help protect your furniture (and your body!) from a cat’s claws.

Scratching Posts

Scratching posts come in many different varieties and types. Some are designed to hang from any door handle or wall hook, making it convenient and easy for cats to use, while others are just placed on the floor. Some also come with catnip, which encourages cats to scratch the post instead of furniture. Scratching posts can also be made from many different textures, including sisal rope and even carpet. Many of them also have platforms and condos on top or underneath to give your cat space to rest and play.

Cat Claw Scissors

These scissors are designed specifically for cats, making it easier to trim their nails without accidentally cutting too deep. They’re easy to hold and grip, and they’re sharp enough to cut quickly without cracking or splitting the nail.

trim cat nails
Image Credit: Yimmyphotography, Shutterstock

Nail Caps

Cat nail caps are designed to go over your cats’ nails to prevent them from causing damage to surfaces in your home by scratching. Nail caps are usually made of a soft vinyl material that is safe and comfortable for cats. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, allowing you to customize the look for your pet. They provide an effective way to protect furniture and people from cat scratches without the need for surgery.

Cat Deterrent Sprays

These sprays are formulated to discourage cats from scratching furniture and other surfaces. Many are made with natural ingredients, and don’t contain any harsh chemicals or toxins.

Cat Declawing FAQs

What Is the Ban on Declawing Cats?

The ban on cat declawing, also known as ‘ontoclasty’, is a law or regulation that prohibits or restricts cat owners from performing the procedure. In Australia, it’s currently illegal to declaw cats and anyone who attempts to do so could face serious legal consequences.

How Can I Protect My Furniture from Cat Scratching?

There are several methods of protecting furniture from cat scratching, such as providing cats with scratching posts and trimming their nails regularly to prevent overgrowth. Additionally, there are products available that can help protect your furniture (and your body!) from a cat’s claws, such as nail caps or sprays.

british shorthair cat scratching the post
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

What Are the Alternatives to Declawing Cats?

In addition to providing scratching posts and trimming nails regularly, there are also several alternatives to declawing cats that can help protect your property from damage without harming the animal. These include behavioral training, positive reinforcement like clicker training, and aversion techniques such as using a spray bottle filled with water.

Is Declawing Cats Ethical?

The practice of declawing cats is widely considered to be unethical due to the significant physical pain and psychological trauma it can cause. Additionally, declawed cats are deprived of their natural defense mechanism which can lead to heightened anxiety, fear, and stress. As such, it’s generally accepted that declawing cats is an inhumane practice and should be avoided.

Can I Cut My Cat’s Nails?

Yes, you can cut your cat’s nails with the right tools. It’s important to use a sharp clipper specifically designed for this purpose and provide your cat with gentle but firm pressure when clipping their nails. Additionally, you should be sure to avoid cutting too close to the quick (the sensitive area of tissue inside the nail that contains nerve endings and blood vessels) to avoid pain or infection. It’s also wise to provide treats and praise after the procedure is complete in order to help ease any anxiety your cat may have.

cat having nails trimmed
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

What If I Cut My Cat’s Nail Too Short?

If you accidentally cut your cat’s nail too short and they begin to bleed, you should immediately apply pressure with a clean cloth or gauze to stop the bleeding. If the bleeding continues for more than 5 minutes, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Additionally, be sure to watch for signs of infection in the affected area such as redness, swelling or discharge.

How Can I Help Declawed Cats?

If you know someone with a declawed cat, there are several things you can do to help them. Firstly, provide plenty of scratching posts and toys that will help encourage natural behavior and prevent further damage to furniture. Next, you can ensure the cat is kept away from areas where they may encounter unfriendly animals or hazardous objects. Finally, observe the cat regularly for signs of pain or discomfort that may indicate an infection has developed.

You can also volunteer at a local shelter to provide declawed cats with the care and attention they need. This includes providing food, water, companionship and enrichment activities to help them adjust to their new environment. Additionally, you can donate money or supplies for their medical care or offer to foster them until a forever home is found.

Finally, spread awareness about the inhumane nature of declawing cats and encourage people to consider alternatives. Remember, declawing can have a profound negative impact on a cat’s quality of life and should never be taken lightly. By working together, we can make sure all cats live happy and healthy lives free from unnecessary suffering.


Cat declawing is an unnecessary and cruel procedure that puts cats at risk of physical and psychological harm. It’s illegal in Australia, where animal welfare laws are strong, and it can lead to long-term medical issues as well as behavioral problems. Furthermore, the cost of providing veterinary care for cats who have been declawed or have suffered from other deformities can be high. The best way to prevent damage is through regular nail trimming and training cats to use scratching posts.

Featured Image Credit: Gorloff-KV, Shutterstock

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