When I got my kitten years ago I would play with his feet whenever he would cuddle with me. Soon after I cut his nails and I kept rubbing his feet as he got older and kept cutting his nails. It got to be almost a game. He became used to me touching his feet and it didn't phase him one bit when I got the clippers, even when he was older. I am not saying it will work with all cats, but it is worth a try!
To me, declawing a cat and debarking a dog are equally inhumane acts.