Although I’m a blogger and not truly a journalist, I try to remain neutral in order to present both sides of an issue fairly. But when my topic is feline declawing; it’s impossible for me to remain objective.
Why does the veterinary profession continue covertly condoning this inhumane and brutal surgery? In my opinion the main reason declaw surgery has not yet been banned in the USA is because it is one of the most lucrative procedures in veterinary practices.
During its April meeting, the AVMA executive Board voted to send four policies to the AVMA House of Delegates to consider at its annual session, July 24-25 in Denver; prior to the AVMA Annual Convention.
My heart sank when I read the proposed changes pertaining to their feline declaw policy. My initial reaction was how swiftly the AVMA is peddling backwards; continuing not to take the crucial steps which would ensure that cats are protected from unnecessary harm.
In his recent article concerning these proposed changes, Michael Broad wrote “The AVMA are toying and wrestling with their de-clawing policy and getting nowhere with it because they are stuck between a rock and a hard place.” This statement is puzzling to me.
In my opinion, if the American Veterinary Medical Association, (AVMA) finds itself in this position, they brought it on themselves. They did it once again by refusing to take a strong stand against feline declawing. Instead they tread lightly, leaving major loopholes to avoid stepping on its members’ toes; avoiding their wrath by not interfering with an extremely lucrative source of income.
If the organization was actually moving forward, they would demand a policy change recommending that unless a compelling medical condition existed, (such as cancer), requiring an amputation of cats’ knuckles; that the surgery should never be performed, because it is otherwise unnecessary. That should be the AVMA’s bottom line.
Instead, the AVMA is proposing a “substantive change” in their declaw policy. It reads “Clarification that onychectomy is a major surgical procedure in cats”. What does this statement mean? How does it differ from the beginning of the AVMA’s 2011 Declaw Policy? It already states that:
“The AVMA believes it is the obligation of veterinarians to provide cat owners with complete education with regard to feline onychectomy”
…continuing with the essential points veterinarian should be sharing with clients requesting the surgery. I don’t understand how this change can be a “glimmer of light” (as stated by Michael). In my opinion a “glimmer of light” would be “Do not declaw unless a serious medical condition exists”.
“Acknowledgment that, in addition to potentially transmitting zoonotic diseases, cats with claws may pose increased risks of injury and morbidity for certain owners. The revised statement also cautions that such risks should not be generalized to the human population at large but should be considered on a case-by-case basis.”
How does this proposed change eradicate the fact that folks seem not to have any problems living with cats with claws in over 37 countries (e.g. illegal in UK)? Are they telling us that cats with claws really present a huge risk to folks living in the USA?
But what got me screaming out loud was the proposed change that reads:
“Recognition that, while claws contribute to the ability of cats to defend themselves from various threats, cats that are declawed may be safely allowed outdoors if they are appropriately supervised”.
Why can’t the AVMA and its members get it into their heads that cats don’t need their claws only to defend themselves? Since cats walk on their toes, by amputating the last bone of each toe, the cat is then unable to ambulate correctly; often leading to arthritis and other crippling conditions. And is the AVMA going to mandate that every declawed cat is appropriately supervised if let outdoors?
Then there is the everlasting myth that declawing is preferable to rehoming it because the cat is “destructive”. Simply put declawing a cat to prevent damage to belongings, or to prevent an owner from being scratched, is no guarantee that the cat’s home will be preserved. Too many declawed cats are surrendered to shelters due to “unacceptable” behavior. These declawed cats are often considered unadoptable and, as a result a healthy cat is euthanized unnecessarily.
The AVMA states that:
“There is no scientific evidence that declawing leads to behavioral abnormalities when the behavior of declawed cats is compared with that of cats in control groups.”
…But on-going scientific research is proving otherwise.
Ages ago we thought the world was flat. We have moved on. Perhaps one day in the near future, the AVMA will be sufficiently convinced by the research on feline declawing being done by the Paw Project and the compassionate veterinarians who truly understand cats. Perhaps then the AVMA will be moved enough to a take a strong stand against declawing and their revised declaw policy will reflect it.
Were you outraged by the “new” proposed declaw policy? Tell us in a comment.
Photo credit: Flickr User taa_ter