Cat Declawing in England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland

by Michael

As I understand it cat declawing in England and Wales is illegal under section 5 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA). This section is headed "mutilation". Section 5 allows tail docking, sadly. The Irish veterinary association, Veterinary Ireland (VI), support a complete ban on the docking of puppies' tails, incidentally.

Ireland

It is also unethical under VI regulations to declaw cats. This is what they say:

"While commonly performed in the USA it is not performed in Ireland and any Veterinary Practitioner performing this act would clearly be open to disciplinary action by the Veterinary Council of Ireland."

Although the VI seek:

"a complete and specific ban on all other acts of mutilation in animals"

This I presume refers to legislation.

England

What is interesting is that there is absolutely no mention of cat declawing on the British Veterinary Association (BVA) website. Or if there is it is very well hidden or their custom search engine can't find it."Britain" means England, Wales and Scotland.

Section 5 of the AWA states that an appropriate national authority can override the effective parts of section 5.

"the appropriate national authority may specify by regulations"

I will presume that the BVA may be such an authority. So on the basis that I have not missed something cat declawing is banned in England and Wales under the AWA - section 5 referred to above. Laws passed in parliament only have jurisdication over England and Wales. So what of Northern Ireland and Scotland?

Northern Ireland

The veterinary association of NI makes no reference to declawing. The relevant legislation is probably: Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 1972. This makes no specific references except to animal cruelty.

I believe that cat declawing does not take place in NI at all. It is not part of the culture and that is probably the best protection for cats.

Scotland

Animal welfare is governed by The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act (AHWA). Section 20 prohibits declawing as it is a "procedure which involves interference with the sensitive tissues or bone structure of the animal" and it is not "carried out for the purpose of medical treatment of an animal".

The law in Scotland is very similar to that in England and Wales and may have preceded the English law.

USA

I hope this helps people who want to make comparisons with the USA. What is very interesting is that in the USA there is no restrictions except for the specific city laws recently passed that have been made explicitly to ban declawing. It would be nice to think that these brave and enlightened city councils started the process of the creation of national laws drafted in general terms that effectively banned cat declawing in the USA (see for example, The Paw Law). There are many posts on declawing cats on this site.

From Cat Declawing in England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland to Declawing Cats

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Cat Declawing in England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland

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Nov 24, 2009 Thanks
by: Michael

Michele -- thanks for an awesome contribution to the declawing debate. Fantastic. I think we have all the legislation and surrounding rules and treaties on this page.


Nov 24, 2009 Here's why the U.K. and E.U. have banned declawing - Part 2
by: Anonymous

Declawing, along with ear cropping is banned in the U.K. and all member states of the European Union under the European Convention for the Protection of Animals, 13th November 1987. Article 10, Clause 1(d) specifically prohibits declawing, as confirmed in the Treaty Agreement below;

http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/Treaties/Html/125.htm (new window)

In an attempt to counter arguments from vets in North America in favour of declawing, I decided to approach the subject from a different angle. I wrote to both the RCVS and the BSAVA asking if they could advise me where I might find articles written by U.K. vets on the subject of declawing cats and how the ban came about. Unfortunately neither of them were able to provide me with such information, because apparently the procedure has never been practised in the UK.

It would appear that having an understanding of both feline anatomy and psychology was enough for them to know that declawing is an unnecessary mutilation.

The renowned Nicholas H. Dodman was born in London and graduated from Glasgow University Veterinary School,so perhaps he may be able to shed some light on this particular matter.

Michele (UK)


Nov 24, 2009 Here's why the U.K. and E.U. have banned declawing - Part 1
by: Anonymous

Hope that some of this "ammunition" helps our North American colleagues shoot down pro-declawers.

DEFRA's web site states;

"From 6 April 2007 in England, and 28 March in Wales, the mutilation of animals was banned under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, with certain exemptions set out in the 2007 and the 2008 (Amendment) Regulations. 'Mutilation' covers any procedure that involves interference with the sensitive tissues or bone structure of an animal other than for therapeutic purposes (medical treatment)."

href="http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/welfare/act/secondary-legis/docking.htm - broken link (new window)

The Animal Welfare Act makes owners and keepers responsible for ensuring the welfare needs of their animals are met, which includes the need to ?exhibit normal behaviour? (Section 9c of the Act) and ?to be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease? (Section 9e of the Act). DEFRA?s ?Consultation on Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats? advises owners in detail what these responsibilities involve.

http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/welfare/act/index.htm (new window)
(new window)

Long before declawing was legally banned in the U.K. vets refused to perform the procedure. In fact, Appendix B in the report on animal mutilations prepared by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) which was endorsed and accepted by Council June 1986/February 1987, stated the following regarding the removal of claws;

"This procedure is only acceptable where, in the opinion of the veterinary surgeon, injury to the animal is likely to occur during normal activity. It is not acceptable if carried out for the convenience of the owner. Thus the removal of dew claws in certain breeds of dog where they protrude from the limb and are likely to become caught and torn is justifiable and even advisable. On the other hand, the removal of claws, particularly those which are weight-bearing, to preclude damage to furnishings is not acceptable.?

http://www.cdb.org/vets/mutilations.htm#Reasons (new window)

As a result of this report carried out more than 20 years ago on animal mutilations, RCVS guidelines Clause h(i) state "a veterinary surgeon must not cause any patient to suffer by carrying out any unnecessary mutilation".

http://www.rcvs.org.uk/Templates/Internal.asp?NodeID=89720&int2ndParentNodeID=89717&int1stParentNodeID=89642 (new window)


Nov 24, 2009 Thanks Ruth
by: Michael

Thanks a lot for this Ruth - very helpful as it completes the task. I think the England; The Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) ( England ) Regulations 2007 provides exceptions to the AWA (or permitted procedures) and declawing is not listed thereby confirming that cat declawing is prohibited.

As for Scotland, the same situation arises. The Prohibited Procedures on Protected Animals (Exemptions) (Scotland) Regulations 2007 provides a list of operations that are excempt from the umbrella statute and as cat declawing is not listed, it is illegal in Scotland.

So you are correct that there are no exemptions allowing declawing in these regulations that qualify the statutes referred.

Thanks for your input Ruth. It is nice to have the full picture.

Michael


Nov 24, 2009 Vets and declawing
by: Ruth aka Kattaddorra

I worked with quite a few newly qualified young vets and as far as I know none of them had even been taught 'declawing a cat'as part of their training. In fact only one person ever asked about having her cat declawed,the owner of the practice had to be asked to tell her this operation was never done in his practice and he didn't know of any other practices which would declaw a cat.I distinctly remember one young vet saying at the time he wouldn't like to perform such a cruel procedure,in fact he'd refuse to do it even if he lost his job by doing that.
So I was very shocked a year ago to find out that declawing happens routinely in the USA and that in fact, far from being done as a last resort, kittens are declawed in neuter/declaw packages and some vets even advertise this !


Nov 24, 2009 From the RCVS
by: Ruth aka Kattaddorra

I emailed the RCVS about declawing a while back and this was the reply:

Thank you for your recent e-mail enquiry.
The RCVS does not produce specific guidance on this issue for veterinary surgeons.
It is my understanding, however, that there is in place different pieces of legislation governing this subject matter depending on which part of the UK you live in namely;
Scotland; The Prohibited Procedures on Protected Animals (Exemptions) ( Scotland ) Regulations 2007

England; The Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) ( England ) Regulations 2007

Wales; The Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) ( Wales ) Regulations 2007

The legislation can be downloaded in full at the Office of Public Sector Information at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/
I am not aware of any provisions or exemptions contained in these various pieces of legislation that allow for the removal of cats’ claws in the situation which you describe. The removal of claws for genuine therapeutic reasons may be necessary but it is not acceptable if carried out for the convenience of the owner. By way of an example, the removal of claws, particularly those which are weight-bearing, to preclude damage to furnishings is not acceptable.
You may wish to consider seeking further guidance from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) relating to the current legislation governing the de-clawing of cats at www.defra.gov.uk
DEFRA and OPSI may also be able to provide you with detailed information on the history and evolvement of the various pieces of legislation governing this issue.
I have also attached a link to the DEFRA guidance on Animal Welfare which can be found at
You may also wish to consider seeking advice further information from the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) at http://www.cawc.org.uk/

I have the writer's contact details if anyone wants furher information.



Comments

Cat Declawing in England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland — 3 Comments

  1. The British penchant for worrying more about animals than about each other continues to amaze. My partner has a fully-clawed cat which never goes outdoors because of his illness, but I was shocked beyond words to see that this politically irrelevant issue has reached the level of NATIONAL LAW in the UK. What some soft-hearted flat-worlders call “mutilation” more sensible people call “protecting children, visitors, and furnishings.” A cat that is in no danger of fighting other cats and does not have to kill its own food does not need front claws, which simply enable it to attack people, climb all over the place, and destroy stuff. I suppose this is the bargain cat owners must make: the trade-off between safety and having a pet. In a country obsessed with “health and safety” regulations, it’s amazing that people are allowed to have pets at all.

    • The British penchant for worrying more about animals than about each other continues to amaze.

      Sorry, but you have that wrong. We, Brits don’t worry more about animals than humans. We just like to treat animals in the same way we treat the human animal: us. What is wrong with that? It is less arrogant and more tolerant and decent. Also, it is not just the Brits who do this. Take any European country and millions of Americans too. We are all of the same opinion.

      Sorry, OMG, we are just on a completely different plane of thinking. People who hate declawing are way in advance of people who think declawing is alright. Someone like you won’t exist in 50 years. You will be a dinosaur. You are a dinosaur living in the modern world and you are out of place. And you are arrogant and personally, I despise you.

    • ‘A cat that is in no danger of fighting other cats and does not have to kill its own food does not need front claws, which simply enable it to attack people, climb all over the place, and destroy stuff’

      We are talking about little furry domestic pets aren’t we and not wild tigers? My cats and other peoples cats I know, don’t attack people, destroy stuff etc….
      You are a very ignorant person OMG, had you bothered to do even the slightest research on cats claws you would see why they are essential to their health and fulfilment. Are you one of those thick idiots who think declawing means removing the claw as you would a person’s nail? If so you are completely wrong, the entire last toe joint is amputated, so declawing means TEN amputations which is extremely painful to the cat and disables him for life! A declawed cat can’t walk as a cat walks, can’t exercise, has difficulty balancing when jumping, he faces a lifetime of physical and mental problems from the cruel surgery. If you already knew that and still think declawing is acceptable then you are a cruel cold hearted excuse for a human being.
      Either way I agree with Michael, I despise you!
      As for worrying more about animals than each other, some of us have brains larger than the pea brain you obviously have, because we can and do care about other people as well as animals, we are not self important fools like you OMG…..why don’t you go and do something to help others rather than come here blathering on a subject you know nothing about.
      Declawing will soon be banned worldwide as the animal abuse it is!

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