We recently shared the story of Miss Pearl, an 18-year-old cat who we helped get needed surgery to correct a botched declaw procedure that had been done when she was young. The nails had regrown inside her paws, and were causing her terrible pain. Two of them had actually burst through the skin. We can’t even imagine how she must have been suffering for years.

But even “unbotched” declaw surgeries are likely to cause serious negative effects, including behavior issues and lifelong pain. For anyone who thinks it’s just a routine part of owning a cat, or a minor convenience. there’s more than enough information out there now to change your mind.

Start by taking a look at a 2017 study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, which found a significant incidence of chronic pain in cats who had been declawed, as well as a higher incidence of certain behavioral problems. Additionally, a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association saw an increase in litter box avoidance in declawed cats in multi-cat households when compared to non-declawed cats in multi-cat households, indicating a level of pain and/or anxiety that caused that avoidance.

Then read this interview with veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, in which veterinary pain specialist Dr. Robin Downing said, “Cats most definitely can suffer pain after having their toes amputated — the appropriate description for the procedure.” Pointing out that nerves are actually cut during the surgery, she went on to say, “With nerve damage, there are changes that occur in the transmission of signals along the nerve fibers. The damaged nerves can set up a pain syndrome that is self-perpetuating. This means that the toes can become hypersensitive, or may even develop the sensations that humans with neuropathic pain experience.”

Finally, look at this list of anti-declaw position statements from nearly all major veterinary and humane organizations:

At SpayMart, we do not adopt cats to homes that intend to declaw, and we consider it an inhumane and unnecessary procedure. Scratching is a normal and healthy feline behavior, and it’s not difficult to prevent unwanted scratching, especially if you start when they are kittens. Don’t bury your head in the sand, and don’t put any more cats through the pain and suffering Miss Pearl endured.