Declawing is uncommon outside the United States. It is banned in England, Scotland, Wales, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. In the United Kingdom, it is actually illegal and under their law is considered animal cruelty! Source: declawing.com
As you can see below, the incision goes beyond just the claw. Not only is the bone removed, but so are ligaments, tendons and nerves. This is a painful surgery that requires recovery time. This human equivalent is to break your last knuckle and cut off the tips of your fingers. Sounds like a good deal, huh? Try living a normal life without the ends of your fingers.
You can believe all of the nuts out there who defend declawing if you want-it's your cat. My childhood cat was declawed when I was about 9. Of course, I did not have the opinions I have now and I had no qualms about him getting declawed. My mother made the decision and he actually had no problems with the procedure itself except for bloody bandages for a few days. However, he did have one problem because of being declawed. He was at my grandmother's house (in the country) while we were on vacation when I was about 11 and he was attacked by two feral cats when he slipped out of the door. From that attack, he received about a 2 inch long, 1 inch deep gash on his back. If he had claws, he probably would have felt confident enough to fight them back and could have done some damage to them. Without his claws, it seems that he just tried to run away and they pounced on him.
That is one of the biggest reasons people (like me) oppose declawing. We are taking away one of the only defenses a cat has to protect itself!
If you want to declaw your cat, be prepared to deal with the consequences! When people declaw their cat, they can have issues such as litter box aversion (going outside the litter box), they can lose the ability to climb, jump or keep their balance, their behavior and demeanor may change due to their perceived vulnerability. Your cat may live in pain because as cat owners we know that cats often hide pain or illness. Having no claws and no bone in their foot drastically changes the design of their foot. They are designed to run, jump, climb and be very agile. Without those bones, they might not be able to do those things as well as they should.
There is no way to tell how a cat will react to a declawing procedure but why (if you love your cat) would you gamble with their health both mentally and physically?!?! It may end up just fine, or you may bring your happy, friendly cat to the vet and live the rest of your life with a scared, unpredictable ball of fur in the corner who doesn't use the litter box! What would you do then? Bring it to the shelter to be killed-OF COURSE!!!!
I see it all the time. People bring cats to the shelter (where we DO NOT KILL THEM but most of the time the people do not know that when they bring their cat in) and they say they have behavior problems and yes, they declawed them. Hmm...and we ask, well when did the behavior problems start? (Usually after declawing, or made worse with declawing) What can we do to help you with your cat? Can we help correct the behavior so you can bring them back home with you? Nope. They want to leave the cat with us and get a new one. At least they won't be killed with us.
People declaw cats for convenience. Would you take your child to the doctor to have the last knuckle broken and the ends of their fingers cut off because they are being destructive? OF COURSE NOT! How would they live their lives normally? They are supposed to have the ends of their fingers!!
So, why would you even consider it with an animal that uses those "fingers" for protection!?
Before you have a cat declawed, consider how painful the procedure is and try alternatives. There are several: (1) Learn to clip your cat's nails , (2) give Soft Paws a try, (3) supply lots of tall and STURDY scratching posts and encourage their usage and discourage scratching anywhere else. Cats want their scratching posts to be sturdy and not move when they scratch on them. I find that most cats prefer sisal rope scratching posts (click here for one I have personally that my cats love and does not move when they scratch on it) and the cardboard ones that lay on the floor (click here for an example) but definitely shop around for one that your cat likes most.