Onychectomy, popularly known as declawing, is an operation to surgically remove an animal's claws by means of amputating all or part of the distal phalanx, or end bones, of the animal's toes. It is performed most often on household cats, though occasionally on other animals such as circus lions or dancing bears. Because the claw develops from germinal tissue deep within the third phalanx, amputation of the bone is necessary to remove the claw. The terms "onychectomy" (origin: Greek ὄνυξ onycho, nail + ἐκτομή ektome, excision) and "declawing" imply mere claw removal, but a more appropriate description would be phalangectomy, excision of toe bone.
Although common in North America, and Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, and China, elective declawing is considered an act of animal cruelty in certain other regions.