Cat Declaw Breaks The Crimimal Law

Cat Declaw Breaks The Crimimal Law

by Michael
(London, UK)

Photo by Frodrig (Flickr) - Animals should have individual rights that can be protected by a lawyer

Photo by Frodrig (Flickr) - Animals should have individual rights that can be protected by a lawyer

31-1-10: Yes, cat declaw breaks the criminal law in the USA. Take any state, for example Alabama. I am sure declawing goes on unabated in the south. The criminal code there states that it is a class A misdemeanor to mutilate a cat.

So why aren't there a gazillion prosecutions of the vets and cat owners?

ANSWER: Because the cat has no individual rights and the operation of declawing is carried out under the consent of the cat owner.

But the operation of declawing is a whisker, a millimeter away from a crime. The only barrier is consent by the cat owner. The owner takes away the rights of the cat.

And that smallest of distances can be bridged if some city or state legislators appointed an animal advocate to represent a cat or any other animal.

If an animal advocate was authorised under the law of a city or state to act on behalf of the cat as a sentient being with individual rights there is no doubt that the first couple of "cat owner and vet" to declaw a cat would be prosecuted for animal cruelty. It would probably lead to fining the individuals involved and an abandonment of declawing cats in the state concerned. As can be seen, when I talk of animal advocate I don't just mean someone who speaks on behalf of animals but a lawyer who prosecutes on behalf of animals in cases of animal abuse and cruelty.

Of course an animal advocate would also protect all animals. Now, this seems like dreamland, a parallel universe and a deeply unpopular one for many millions of Americans. And I am not against Americans. I am just for what is right, proper and decent.

Your typical right winger would think me a pinko liberal and a dreamer - a crazy animal rights person. But I am not because in Switzerland there will be a referendum (in March 2010) on whether animals in Switzerland should have the right to be represented in court (Sunday Times 31-1-10). The concept of animal rights is mainstream in Switzerland.

And in any case animal rights people are not crazies. They are the opposite in fact. They are more aware and more normal than people who consider cats as "only cats" (i.e. we can do as we please with them).

And I can tell you that the declawing of a cat is a quantum leap more cruel than the kind of things people are prosecuted for in the canton of Zurich who are ahead of the game in appointing an animal advocate already.

As a graphic illustration, a domestic violence case was investigated by police in Zurich who discovered a canary on its own. It is known that canaries are social animals. The man was charged with wife beating and animal abuse...!

How far is that from systematic abuse of cats through declawing?

It is obvious to me that a society which protects animal rights is a better society than one that abuses cats - and declawing cats for non-therapeutic reasons is without question an abuse. Why? Well it's commonsense. A society that cares for the more vulnerable (and cats are automatically more vulnerable than people) is bound to be more thoughtful and caring and therefore more likely to be treating people better too.


The appointment of an animal advocate would be an alternative to banning declawing of cats because cat declaw breaks the criminal law. And it would help all animals.

There should be a referendum in America on the appointment of a state (or city) animal advocate. Lets start in California, the state were there are cities that are more enlightened than others in the USA.

Such an appointment (should it be a city wide advocate) would bypass the California state law that forbids cities banning declawing (as at 1st January 2010). It would tap into existing law.

Associated page:

Declawing Cats: The Need for a Definitive Joint Report

Is a Nationwide USA Declaw Ban Possible?

Michael Avatar

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Cat Declaw Breaks The Crimimal Law

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Mar 21, 2011 thanks
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Apr 04, 2010 Response to Gail
by: Michael

This is a response to Gail's comment of Feb 2nd. Yes, trimming claws is not mutilation of the cat. It is just trimming claws (dead matter - keratin I think it is) in the same way we trim our nails.

Mar 14, 2010 Problems can arise at any time
by: Ruth

Parker I just hope your cat remains fine but the chances are high that he will eventually develop painful arthritis from being declawed.
I'm wondering how long it is since his amputations, please don't forget problems can arise months even years after the initial operation.Keep a close eye on his stumps always, incase a claw is growing back crooked or a splinter of bone was left behind and moves.
I'm sure you know that cats hide their pain as it's a sign of weakness. There have been cases where declawed cats have lost their entire paw because of infection discovered too late.
You say cats can't be trained, but they can !
You don't mention trying scratching posts and pads around the house, some cats are high maintenance and need a lot to do. It's a bored cat which is destructive.
But if you tried everything and declawing was the last resort as it's supposed to be, according to the AVMA policy,then you can't be called a criminal.
I hope your cat is lucky enough to stay well.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Mar 12, 2010 Declawing- Resource or Need?
by: Parker

I believe that too many people Declaw cats, debark dogs, and all those things. There are HUMANE, REASONABLE solutions to such problems.

I have owned cats and dogs alike for all my life, and so did my parents before me.

However, I also find that with dogs, they can be trained and excersized, and properly taken care of to avoid a constant barking problem.
Cats don't follow rules, and can't be trained the same way.

We tried double sided tape on furniture, tape on pads of feet for clawing (not nice- but it was a last resort), and all the tricks in the book.
After we put up the ceiling in the basement, even after it was stuffed, the cat clawed out the foam and crawled in. The roof collapsed 6 times including wires and all.

If we couldn't get the cat to stop destroying everything in the house, we had to give him to a rescue center. We were worried about their finding out he clawed things and giving him back. This resulted in a must-happen thing: Declawing.

He still hunts, fights, catches birds mice and bats, all on his own just fine. He's exibited no behavioural problems, and no pain. He even has a cat friend in the house with claws he can still beat up- and three dogs.

I DISAGREE that declawing should EVER be an abused privelege, but if you have the choice between putting them down, or declawing- is it really even a choice any more?
TOO MANY people mistreat and abuse animals, declawing for the sake of doing so is INTOLERABLE and I believe only under ABSOLUTE circumstances should a cat ever undergo this surgery.

Please reply- I'd like to hear your thoughts.
I do see it as wrong, and never wanted to do so, but I still believe it was the right thing for him.

Feb 03, 2010 To Gail
by: Ruth

At last ! I'm so glad to meet someone who doesn't mess with cats claws at all. We've had cats for 35 years and only once found it neccessary to trim one cat's claws, our Ebony when she was very old and they started growing curved.
As you say,left alone they keep them right themselves if they have scratching posts and pads around !
It seems that some people are so obsessed with 'dangerous' claws they can't see the beauty in them and that they are a very necessary part of the cat !
In all my years as a vet nurse we rarely trimmed cats claws either.
Reading Michael's post I took it that he means if someone actually 'detoed' their cat themselves it would be a criminal act, so it should also be a criminal act when a vet 'detoes' a cat. After all it is abuse, it causes uneccessary pain and leaves the cat disabled !!What about the vets who charge extra for pain medication, that's surely wrong ! And I've read from vet techs that cats even under the anaesthetic they use,jerk with the pain as their toe joint is amputated.
Thank you also for more information about that Shelter Gail, I hope there are many more like it !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Feb 02, 2010 Declaws Law
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Michael, I'm a bit confused by your latest post with respect to trimming claws. If an individual only trims the claws, that's OK (if the ban became law). Personally, I don't even trim Sadie's claws since she's so excellent at maintaining them herself, bless her. Periodically, I find bits of claw sheathing around.

Ruth, the shelter I spoke of doesn't just adopt out - they actually do periodic checks, including home checks. Should the cat not work out for any reason, the shelter takes the cat/dog back and makes that very clear from the get-go. During their visit, if they find the cat declawed, right on the spot they take the cat away (immediate relinquishment is part of the signed agreement). They also keep detailed records of the progress of their little client. Don't know if it's mandated; that's just the way they do things.

Feb 02, 2010 Thank you Gail
by: Ruth

It's very interesting to know that some Shelters will take legal action anyone who breaks a signed contact promising not to declaw an adopted cat.
Sometimes questions come up about this and pro declaws answer to sign the contract then go ahead and have the cat declawed anyway as the Shelter people will never find out.
I usually reply that if it's the same as in our country, vets have to keep records and records can be checked and if a contract is broken they could take the cat back ! (Although they would probably have 'got rid' of the cat as a 'bad cat' by then anyway as soon as the behavioural problems started from the declawing)
It might help that I can now add that the Shelter people can take legal action too.
Hopefully it will put these people off having a cat, because they are not fit to be anywhere near one !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Feb 02, 2010 Response to last comment
by: Michael

You are correct, of course Gail. But if a cat owner cuts of the tips of their cat's toes him/herself (s)he could and would be prosecuted for a crime, I suspect, even if the job was well done. Why?

Do vets convert the criminal to the legal?

Michael Avatar

The law is confused.

Feb 01, 2010 Declawing Law
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

The reason you won't find this becoming a crime anytime soon in the U.S.A. is because pets are considered "property" and are exempt from any number of laws that SHOULD apply to them. Until that law is changed, animal advocates will not be appointed - not to mention the enormity of trying to monitor the practice, much less prosecute.

I am a proud American but do not, under any circumstances (other than the health of the cat - ex: cancer) condone declawing. It is a barbaric practice and, unfortunately, a profitable one for unethical vets.

I have signed every petition against declawing that has come my way and will not do business with anyone (vet, shelters et al) that allows declawing. It's wonderful to know that my new vet will only trim claws or provide the little soft claw covers (but prefers not even that) and the local rescue shelter that I joined also refuses to declaw cats. The shelter also mandates that potential adopters read the graphic, educational material about declawing. Then the potential adopters must sign an agreement acknowleging the cruelty and agree that they will never declaw.

Since the shelter also stays in touch with all of their adoptees, should they find the cat/dog has been declawed, they will remove the animal from the premises. They also file legal action against the adopter and they win in court since the adopter signed the agreement. It may only be breach of contract at this point, but at least it's a start.

Jan 31, 2010 Animal advocates
by: Ruth

What a wonderful article Michael. You are most certainly not a crazy animal rights person, you are a caring compassionate human being and if everyone cared about animals as you do, the world would be a far better place.
That is very interesting about Switzerland,to too many people a canary counts as nothing. Having a pet of any sort gives us a responsibility to care for that pet and let no harm come to it. That little bird only had one life and had the right to live it as fitting for his species.That is very much like our UK Pet Welfare law isn't it ? That every species must be cared for as fitting to their species. How I wish the USA had a Pet Welfare law too because vets declawing cats would be breaking that law and would have to stop or be prosecuted !.
Yes there should be an animal advocate in every city or at the very least in every state.
USA animals are as entitled as animals here to live their lives as they should and cats are as entitled to keep their very necessary claws too!

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Cat Declaw Breaks The Crimimal Law — 5 Comments

  1. As well as breaking laws against animal abuse, let’s not forget that the fact that so many vets don’t disclose just what declawing involves goes against those forbidding the knowingly providing goods and services which are not as described!

  2. “The Paw Project” movie shows exactly what declawing really is. The paw project is an organization which has volunteer opportunities to help ban declawing. That means it would be illegal to declaw, New York is up next, but legislation is slow.
    Don’t declaw, tell 5 friends, or 1, or 100. If people knew what declawing is BEFORE going to get kittens spayed and neutered, they would be refusing declawing, every single time.
    The vet will lie about what declawing really means for the cats, making money off every declawing, let’s face it, people, every vet has bills to pay. But, that kitten will suffer a lifetime, but a shorter lifetime, because of that half hour declawing procedure.
    Stop declawing now.

  3. All decent people DO hate declawing! Vets hide details of declawing, so decent people don’t know what it is, what it does, how much the pet owner will have to suffer along with his pet, especially the paw pain using the litter box, refusing to use the litter box.
    That is a KEY motivational detail for people who are not getting it: Imagine your cat, leaving feces and strong smelling urine all over your house, not in the litter box. For intellectual, non-feeling types of humans, this KEY motivational detail can spare some cats’ lifetime of suffering.
    Power Differential: remember, the Veterinarian is perceived as “the authority”, which he exploits by profiting from declawing, ignoring the obvious signs that what he is doing is wrong, he knows it is wrong. However, the actual authority lies with the pet owner, who can easily refuse the declawing, even insist that the vet stop declawing. One voice makes all the difference: Speak UP people, cats can’t say it loud enough for some vets, but YOU can.
    That’s good news for cats, because one an individual pet owner “gets it” she will be advising other pet owners to see the movie “the paw project”. She will advise her community on this most inhumane practice. She will refuse to have her cat declawed. She will ask her vet to stop declawing.

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