Cats can be declawed at three months of age or older. However, many veterinarians do not declaw young kittens because they believe declawing should be a last resort, and owners should try training the kitten first.

Declawing is a controversial procedure because it is not medically necessary and involves removing the bone that the claw grows from, which is painful and invasive. It is banned in some locations, so some veterinarians do not perform it at all. Many require a consultation about other, noninvasive methods first and may ask the owner to try those for a few months before performing the procedure. Noninvasive methods can include training, trimming the nails or using nail caps to prevent the cat from causing damage.

Veterinarians may be more likely to agree to an early declaw surgery if there is a reason other than behavior for it. For example, many veterinarians are willing to do it for owners who have compromised immune systems and would be in danger of a serious infection if they are scratched.

An older cat may have a more difficult recovery from the surgery, so getting it done while it is a young adult is a good idea. However, older cats can still be declawed, although they may need additional pain medication. Outdoor cats should never be declawed because they would be unable to protect themselves.