Please note: Declawing is a painful and invasive procedure. It is an amputation. Botched up surgeries are not uncommon. Pain and complications can last for months, if not years, and sometimes for the entire lifetime of the cat. Declawing can create behavioral problems such as timidity, avoidance of owners, hiding and retreating, biting (especially associated with play aggression), and failure to use the litter box.

kitten playDeclawed cats are definitely at a disadvantage compared to cats with claws. Declawing is the amputation of the distal phalanges or toe bones. Cats with claws can hold onto and grasp objects. To compensate for their lack of claws, declawed cats have to awkwardly wrap their arms and paws around toys. When a declawed cat tries to hold onto and grasp an object or toy, the toy usually slips right out of his paws. This can make play frustrating and difficult.

Here are tips to make play more rewarding for declawed cats. (Cats with claws like these games too!).

1) Make pole toys enticing by using the end of the wand as a toy.  Move the wand under pillows, bedding, blankets, and rugs. Turn it into a game of hide and seek. Move the wand away from your cat and keep it flush to the ground or surface it is on (don’t just wave the pole in the air). After moving the pole, stop moving it. Keep it motionless and so that it remains partially hidden. Your cat will pounce on the rug or dodge directly into the blankets after the wand.

2) Get long (3 ft+) pole toys with plain cord or string attached (remove the feather or toy at the end). Move the cord or string as if it were a prey animal. If the string quivers on the floor and slinks around a corner, your cat will stalk and chase it. Let your cat catch the string. Then, keep it still for a few seconds. When your cat lets go or steps away to watch it move, slowly move the string again.

3) Get large catnip or stuffed cat toys for kicking. Move them under bags, pillows and rugs. When your cat ‘catches’ the larger toy, you can tickle his tummy with it so he holds onto it and bunny kicks. Since the toys are larger, your cat can hold onto them easier. (Larger toys are fun for cats to hold onto and kick with their back legs. Smaller toys are better to elicit a cat’s stalking and chasing behaviors).

4) Encourage the biting of toys. When your cat bites the toy, stop moving it. Once he lets go or paws at it, move it again.

declawed cats5) Use crinkled paper on the ends of pole toys (you can make these yourself). Crinkled paper is slightly easier for a cat to hold onto. Be sure to make the wand toy act like prey. Many people play with their cats by swinging a toy over their cat’s head or in their cat’s direction. Prey doesn’t behave this way. This is why many cats dislike playing or can bore easily. Prey animals hide, freeze, slink or scurry away, and retreat. That’s what makes it exciting for the cat.

6) Use an 8″x11.5″ piece of paper and simply move it along the floor or rug. Cats will slide along with the paper or chase and pounce on it. Claws aren’t needed for this game.

7) Once play winds down and after your cat catches a toy, give him a few treats.  Cats hunt (play), eat, and then sleep. By keeping the toy motionless once your cat catches it and giving him treats immediately afterwards, he will feel a sense of accomplishment.  Cat Training

© Alana Stevenson. All Rights Reserved.

A earlier version of this article was published on, 2013.