American Veterinary Medical Association’s policy on declawing REMAINS a FAILURE (2022)

There is a very straightforward reason why the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) policy on declawing is a complete and utter failure. It is also immoral and stupid. It is a failure in protecting the welfare and health of domestic cats.

The AVMA’s revised declawing policy is published on their website (see base of page), March 1, 2020, and is applicable as at 2022. It clearly states that they discourage declawing of domestic cats as an ‘elective procedure’ and that they leave it up to the veterinarians to make their own judgement as to whether a cat in their care needs to be declawed or not. In short, they leave it to their member veterinarians to decide, in conjunction with a discussion with the patient’s owner, whether a cat needs to be declawed or not for therapeutic and non-therapeutic reasons.

Shame on the AVMA
Shame on the AVMA. Image: MikB from image provided by a vet tech of a declawed cat in acute pain. I have deliberately kept the image ‘soft’ to make it more acceptable.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The phrase “elective procedure” means a procedure elected by choice including for non-therapeutic reasons. The AVMA discourages this when they should be banning it completely because there is never a reason to declaw for non-therapeutic reasons if the declawing is going to be humane, moral and decent. Their policy is doubletalk.

The key reason why the AVMA policy is an utter failure

The most important aspects of the failure of this policy is the fact that in America around 25% of domestic cats are declawed (up to about 30%). In the UK, I think you will find that there are no statistics on the percentage of domestic cats that are declawed either for therapeutic nor non-therapeutic purposes as the numbers are so small. And it is illegal to declaw for non-therapeutic reasons in the UK.

Let’s just admit it: the reasons for the massive difference in the number of declawed cats in the USA and UK is that, IN GENERAL, American veterinarians are continuing to declaw cats because the owner wants it done to protect their furniture which is against AVMA policy. And they are doing this in vast numbers. This means that the AVMA CANNOT TRUST their veterinarians to make a sound and proper decision about declawing cats. They are doing it over and over again for non-therapeutic reasons. And therefore, the AVMA cannot pass the buck to their veterinarian members to make a decision about declawing.

When they do it, they seriously injure the cat. This goes against their oath. This means that they are acting immorally and inhumanely. And finally, therefore, the AVMA themselves have to make the decision for their veterinarian members. And if it is in their power to do so, they should forbid the operation unless it is for therapeutic reasons which very rarely occurs. However, I don’t believe it is in their powers to do this which if true is a failure in the constitution of the AVMA.

If American veterinarians only declawed for therapeutic reasons, the percentage of domestic cats declawed in America would be about 0.001% and not up to 30%. It would probably be infinitesimally small, probably much smaller than the figure I have estimated.

That’s the reason why the AVMA policy is an abject failure. To put it another way to stress the point: their veterinarian members cannot be trusted to make a moral decision about declawing because they are chasing financial profit and prioritising it over the health and welfare of their animal patients.

My advice to the bloody AVMA: do the right thing and forbid declawing for non-therapeutic reason. I guess the vets would still ignore them.

P.S. To add insult to injury a good percentage of the declawing operations are bloody well botched because they do them too quickly and without care. A further strong indication of the lack of compassion and skill in these vets.

RELATED: Epidemic of Botched Cat Declaw Operations

Botched cat declaw operations
Botched cat declaw operations. Great shame on the vets. Image: MikeB

The policy:

The AVMA discourages the declawing (onychectomy) of cats as an elective procedure and supports non-surgical alternatives to the procedure. The AVMA respects the veterinarian’s right to use professional judgment when deciding how to best protect their individual patients’ health and welfare. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the veterinarian to counsel the owner about the natural scratching behavior of cats, the alternatives to surgery, as well as the details of the procedure itself and subsequent potential complications. Onychectomy is a surgical amputation and if performed, multi-modal perioperative pain management must be utilized.


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