Rate Veterinarians on Declawing

I would like American people to rate veterinarians on declawing that are practising in north America in respect of one service, that of declawing cats. It is my view that a significant percentage of American veterinarians who are affiliated to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) are in breach of both their oath and ethical principles under the AVMA in agreeing to declaw the cats of people who request the operation for the purpose of preventing damage to personal possessions. It is possible to justify it for a spurious reason but in truth it is hardly ever required in the interests of protecting the person or for medical reasons to do with the cat.

cat that was declawed

This cat was declawed after doing this because he was doing this. What mentality is that? This photographer has allowed this picture to be used here under a Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic creative commons license and that license cannot be revoked. Photo by a440 (new window) – nice picture by the way.

Note: Some American veterinarians dislike cat declawing and won’t practice it. I acknowledge that. However, too many agree to it for the wrong reasons.


I should think that we know that declawing is not actually declawing (i.e. simply removing the claw). It is an operation that removes the last joint of the toe. We shouldn’t become biased about it. There are possible complications with the operation and it can go wrong and so on but most cats get over it and are OK. That said, I think that the problems are much worse than surveys suggest (there is some bias and misrepresentation here). In any case, it in no way supports the operation if it is for the convenience of the cat owner. It is clearly wrong under those circumstances.

This is a discussion with Dr. Jennifer Conrad the founder of the Paw Project.

Declawing is largely an American concept. It is simply hardly ever considered in other countries and is illegal in many including the UK, a country that has close ties with the USA. This prompts a question. Why do Americans request declawing when the British don’t? My answer is because veterinarians in the UK won’t do it as it is against their code of conduct to declaw unless for specific medical reasons that are in the cat’s interest. That after all is the way it must be. The veterinarian is acting on behalf of the cat.

hollywood ban on declawing cats

In the picture above an announcement is being made on the judgment of the Supreme Court upholding the ban on declawing in Hollywood. The California Veterinary Medical Association had challenged the law and lost. Vets chasing $ again, it seems to me. Photo: by City of West Hollywood

As the cat cannot express itself, it is the veterinarian in consultation with the cat owner who decides whether to declaw or not. If the cat owner has a preconceived notion and has already decided that the operation will take place, what does the veterinarian do? Dissuade the owner? There is a psychology of cat declawing through language and behaviour that makes it more acceptable to people (see Psychology of Declawing Cats – new window)

But a cats claws are part of the cat and are there for a good reason. Veterinarians cannot collude in the customisation of cats for the convenience of people. What must be the case is that the American veterinarian finds it acceptable to declaw when it is for the purpose of stopping furniture from being scratched. This must go against the very principles under which they operate, surely, which is to alleviate suffering and to benefit the health of the cat (not benefit the person).

That is why I say lets rate veterinarians on declawing. If a veterinarian is known to strictly comply with his or her oath and ethical principles he or she should be recognised for that. I say that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have allowed their vets to practice declawing for the sole reason that it generates income.It is the bread and butter business of the profession as is vaccinations, which are also carried out unnecessarily. The AVMA allows it because it receives funding from veterinarians. Declawing all the cats currently alive in the USA was and is worth about $12 billions on my estimation (20 million cats declawed at $600 per operation).

The American Veterinary Medical Association say this about declawing on their website:

Declawing of domestic cats should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when their clawing presents a zoonotic risk for its owner(s).

These are “weasel words”. A person bringing in the cat can say that her cat cannot scratching and does the veterinarian check? No. She will then say that she gets scratched and cannot stop the cat. No discussion by the veterinarian. Operation follows. It really is an indirect way of condoning the operation but dressed up as providing a service. Even on that basis it is wrong as the ethical guides and oath focus on the cat:


Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the pri nciples of veterinary medical ethics.

I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.

Selected clause of the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics:


  1. Veterinarians should first consider the needs of the patient: to relieve disease, suffering, or disability while minimizing pain or fear.

The principles do not refer to the cat owner, the human. Scratching a person may happen and if it does it is the person’s fault. Cats react naturally. And when did you catch a disease from your cat? On the face of it 20 million cats in America are uncontrollably scratching people causing disease and destroying people’s possessions but in the UK this is not happening. It needs to stop in the US. Lets rate veterinarians on declawing and put some pressure on.

In fact in the UK declawing a cat is a crime! Now please complete this form and rate veterinarians on declawing. It will take 3 seconds:

From Rate Veterinarians on Declawing to Cat Health Problems

Rate Veterinarians on Declawing – photo: thanks to Flickr

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