An interview with a UK veterinarian about declawing

This is what declawing is
This is what declawing is. Image in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Intro: the page was first published in 2014. I have republished it today, Aug 2, 2022. It starts with a conversation between Ruth and a veterinarian with whom she worked.

Hello John, I hope you and your family are well. I don’t know if you remember me, we worked together way back in the 1980s for a while before you moved on. I’m contacting you now on behalf of Pictures of Cats (PoC) owned by Michael Broad, which as the name implies is a web site all about cats:

As you will see, it has numerous educational pages about cats and also the declawing of cats, which are mostly written by Michael himself, but also other writers contribute, including me. I also design posters for the site in the quest to educate about the cruelty of declawing and to ultimately help get it banned.

Would you agree to answer a few questions about a UK vets thoughts on the declawing of cats? It is of course banned in our country and as far as I know we have never declawed cats at all, but Michael would like the views of UK vets on this subject.


Well hello Ruth, of course I remember you and how you guided this here vet when he was young and very green. I don’t mind answering some questions but I’d like my identity protected because of professional ethics. If that’s OK then go ahead and ask….


Interviewing a British veterinarian about the American declawing of cats
Poster by Ruth aka Kattaddorra

Q. Did you know the declawing of cats is still legal in the USA and Canada?
A. Yes I did and as it happens I was talking to a colleague about this the other day.

Q. Do you believe declawing is acceptable in some circumstances?
A. No way, never!

Q. Do you believe declawing is breaking the veterinarian’s sworn oath?
A. By God yes I do.

Q. Were you taught how to declaw a cat when you were studying veterinary medicine?
A. Why no, it wasn’t an option to declaw a cat. We were instructed of course on how to amputate a limb in the case of an incurable disease or an accident when the animal’s leg couldn’t be saved. As I see it there is no way to declaw a cat apart from the amputation of the last phalanx which can’t be called declawing at all.

Q.Do you know of the problems declawing can cause a cat?
A. I’d say there has to be both mental and physical trauma and the cat prone to serious complications later in life.

Q. Why do you think some vets continue to declaw cats?
A. Because it’s legal and pleases the client and I expect it brings in much revenue also.

Q. Have you heard of the Paw Project?
A. Yes I have.

Q. Have you heard of the Paw Project branches in various cities who are gathering hard scientific facts about the consequences of declawing?
A. My colleague mentioned something about that the other day, he’s a right internet buff, but I haven’t had time to look into it yet. To be honest because it doesn’t affect our country I don’t see there is much point. I’ve quite enough to contend with already running a busy practice. But take heart, I can’t envisage declawing staying legal for much longer.

Q. The Paw Project vets are x-raying the paws of declawed cats from animal/cat shelters because despite the excuse declawing vets make that declawing cats keeps them in their homes, it isn’t so. They are finding a high percent of those cats with bone fragments from botched declawing. Those cats live their lives in pain.
A. Shocking but not surprising because as I already said there is no way to declaw a cat, it’s physically impossible to amputate the claws alone.

Q. Would you come out publicly against USA vets who declaw?
A. No, sorry I don’t think any vet from any country would. It’s down to professional ethics again. But that doesn’t mean if I met up with an American vet who declaws I wouldn’t have a quiet word in his ear on how I feel about the subject.

Q. So you would like to see declawing banned worldwide?
A. God, yes for sure.

Q. Were you ever asked to declaw a cat before it was illegal in the UK?
A. Not at all in my so far 30+ years of practising, first as an employee and then with my own practice.

Q. Just one last question, do you think all UK vets are of the same mind as you?
A. I can’t speak for them of course but yes I’d guess so.

Thanks John, it was very kind of you to take the time to answer all these questions.

That’s fine Ruth, if I can answer any more for Mr Broad or anyone please feel free to contact me again.
Keep in touch now, regards to your family.

Ruth aka Kattaddorra

P.S. I have found out that many British people import declawed cats from the US! That means that there are many Brits who would like their cats to be declawed. Shame on them.

I would like to add that many years ago I asked my veterinarian what he thought about American veterinarians declawing cats and he did not want to answer or discuss it. I find that very poor behaviour. It seems that he was scared that I would write about it on my website and that it would create problems for him. It seems that he knew that I had a popular website and that his words would be amplified and cause problems. So, this British vet did not have the strength of character to decry declawing which I think is a weakness because it desperately needs to stop.

Below are some pages on declawing. There are hundreds more ?.

How do I get my cat to use the scratching post?
This is an article by Elen, a visitor to PoC. We humans are claimed to be divided in to two ...
Pika after his declawing operation at Safari Park Open Zoo and Camp | BIG CATS CLAW BACK. My thanks to The Dodo. He looks subdued and he was. He looks very unhappy. Declawing tiger cubs is so terribly cruel. Horrible.
You may not know it, but many captive wild cat species have been declawed in the USA and around the ...
American culture opens the door to cat declawing
Image: MikeB I'll start of this discussion - and it is no more than a discussion as this is my ...
US sends $1.3 billion to China and Russia (funding cat experiments) while their national debt relentlessly climbs. Michigan might ban declawing.
NEWS AND OPINION-AMERICA: For me, it looks very peculiar. Two recent news stories coming out of America just don't square ...
Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

51 thoughts on “An interview with a UK veterinarian about declawing”

  1. Jennifer Conrad, DVM

    We certainly hope that American vets will come to their senses well before the next 10 years, but, just in case, we do have a backup plan. We plan to educate all North America citizens on the cruelties of declawing and the necessity unaltered claws for the cat’s well being. We hope to destroy demand and have cat people put their money only towards humane vets. We hope to make all vets realize that it’s more profitable to be kind and compassionate than to harm with a declaw. Check out #pawproject to join us. Our film is on Netflix UK, USA and Canada.

    1. Hi Jennifer. Thank you for commenting. I have always thought that American veterinarians could make more money if they stopped declawing. I believe that the greatest motivator for American veterinarians is money because they are in business and I totally respect that.

      There is peer pressure amongst veterinarians to continue to declaw and there is pressure from customers as well who are used to it and think it is normal. There are however millions of cat caretakers disagree with declawing and I’d like to see veterinarians tap into that market and explore new ways to make money but in a humane way.

      I don’t see why veterinarians can’t be involved in education. I don’t see why they can’t be involved in running seminars about cat caretaking and charging for it. There is a great need for education in cat caretaking in order to raise standards and remove the idea that declawing is acceptable. Educating cat owners would also reduce the number of unwanted domestic cats which results in mass euthanasia which devalues the life of a cat which in turn promotes abuse.

      We are great admirers of your work.

      1. What a Bummer dont have Netflix over here in New Zealand as would love to see that Movie/docu. Would that be on itunes?

    1. I have just read that AVMA document top to bottom and it indicates to me that the AVMA is under pressure to stop declawing but can’t because of a lack of authority and integrity so they tighten the rules very slightly. It is window dressing no more. AVMA is pathetic as far as I am concerned.

      1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

        I agree Michael, there is no mention of how wrong it is to declaw little kittens, no mention that vets must not advertise neuter/declaw packages or declawing with discount. Which means that the heartless money hungry declawing vets can go on doing this and encouraging people to have their kitten declawed, rather than advise them to take the time to teach the kitten to use a scratching post.
        Who is going to enforce vets to explain to their clients that declawing is major surgery? No one!
        That AVMA document written in a lily livered way is a waste of space 🙁

  2. You contacted other vets, Ruthie, to request an interview, and they didn’t respond?

    Not sure of any of this, but it seems to suggest there’s some sort of affiliation between the AVMA and its British counterpart, a professional loyalty that impels them to draw their wagons into a circle when they feel under siege.

    Another possible explanation is that many people – unless they glory in fisticuffs – do not relish confrontation. There are enough stresses in life without creating friction where, with a modicum of diplomacy, it can be avoided.

    This is ostensibly off the subject, but the other day I was pulling up a few websites re ‘How to avoid neighbors who to avoid intrusive neighbors. Right now, in the height of the growing season, I’ve lost the use of 1,800 sq. ft. of veg. garden along the fence because it’s dicey to know how to maintain your right to privacy without antagonizing a neighbor who wants to know you more than you want to know him. To read these websites, even intelligent people will listen at their door and wait to venture outside until the coast is clear – i.e., the ‘neighbor’ isn’t out there to grab him in their steely clutches. They’ll resort to any and every ploy to avoid having to interact with people they don’t care for. But it’s paper-thin ice when you wish to be left in peace, and realize how easily asserting your right can trigger retaliation. You try that down here, and they’ll come after you hammer and tongs.

    It’s hard to believe, given the distance, but there may be a professional (as in ‘fraternal’) bond of loyalty between Amer. and UK veterinarians that – given Sartre’s observation that ‘Hell is other people’- the Eng. vets feel they’d be risking their necks to violate. Which increases our admiration for the vets in this country who have accepted the Paws Project studies, knowing that social ostracism, or other unforeseen repercussions, could be the price. Don’t know what it is in a metropolis, but in small rural towns such as this the vets know each other – they’re golfing buddies & belong to the same country club – and what if they join the ‘enemy camp?’ Again, I don’t know this, but would hazard a guess someone like Dr. Jean Hofve is fortitude incarnate.

    1. there’s some sort of affiliation between the AVMA and its British counterpart

      I agree. And I also agree that the American vets who speak out against declawing are very brave. I admire them tremendously. It is v.hard to do against one’s peers.

    2. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      Yes Sylvia, John was the only one who replied, it was very good of him I think and I also think he’d have loved to say more, but it’s those professionals stick together ethics stopped him.
      I know when I worked for vets they would never say anything against each other.
      Like Michael I think American vets speaking out against declawing are to be admired, especially the ones who have never declawed cats themselves. The declawing ones rolling in dollars from their legal abuse of cats must surely feel guilty that they’ve broken their sworn oath and caused cats to suffer. Or maybe not, maybe the blood money is more important than the cats they cripple.

  3. I think it is going to take the public’s outrage also and the vets that are indifferent don’t want to lose their cash cow. The vet that does care foremost about the cats well being, does not want to speak out against his colleagues. It is so ingrained and accepted, they are having kittens declawed! A kitten that has never even had a chance to develop a destructive habit!

    The attitude of people I have talked to is quite arrogant and cocky. For example when told that declawing had been banned in over 30 countries, several of them have responded with the thinking that the Americans are right, it’s the rest if the world that is wrong. It does amaze me when they think they are superior to other people, when they are engaged in such a barbaric act on such a defenseless animal.

    1. I have noticed that cockiness and arrogance amongst declawers. It goes with the territory. It the reason why they will never learn that they are wrong. Many people have criticised me for being a cat hugger. They are quite dismissive people.

  4. I agree with Michael as far as hoping that declawing would be banned in the U.S. in the near future. Frankly, I don’t believe it is going to happen in my lifetime.

    Americans love their furniture more than they care about their cats.
    Daily, you see someone putting out a plea on FB for a declawed senior, dumped at a shelter to be rescued. The owner mutilates them as kittens and when the first problem shows up they are discarded at a kill shelter. I am of the mindset now that declawing probably kills more cats than saves lives. That is a crappy excuse that people use to make them feel less guilty.

    1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      But how can vets go on declawing cats for much longer with all the evidence coming out from the Paw Project vets? The evidence is proving that declawing causes cats to suffer, which is totally opposite to the vets sworn oath to cause no animal to suffer.
      Word has spread that it isn’t ‘just’ the claws and that shocked many people who thought it was, so surely as word spreads that vets know they will deliberately cause suffering by declawing a cat, must stop it happening.
      Surely no one loves their furniture so much they would have their cat live a life of pain, why don’t they just not get a cat!

      1. The American veterinarians will simply ignore everything and carry on as normal. The only way to speed up the introduction of a ban is to keep the pressure up relentlessly and provide more and more scientific evidence such as has been obtained by Kirsten. the more hard scientific evidence that can be produced and the more it can be disseminated amongst all veterinarians and the public the better the chance of a ban. A senior politician needs to pick up the information from these studies and be a champion of a federal ban or even a state ban, say in California, would be fantastic.

    2. Cindy, I am pleased that you don’t think I’m being overly pessimistic. It is just that this is a deeply entrenched part of the American culture that has been around for a long time and these sorts of things take a long time to get rid of. However, the road to banning it has begun.

  5. Thank you Ruth,

    That was QUITE a refreshing interview. It is really sad that our vets here in the USA don’t have the same professional ethics or compassionate feelings as John.

    Very upsetting to us here in the USA who abhor de-knuckling kitties.

    1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      Yes John is a very compassionate man I think, he was one of the young vets who really cared about his patients and was a pleasure to work with that doesn’t seem to have changed in all the years gone by since we worked together.

      1. The fact that he agreed to respond to your questions tells us that he has the welfare of cats in general at heart and is not frightened to talk about it. I still find it difficult to accept that some British vets don’t want to talk about declawing. I’m still waiting for a response from my veterinarian’s clinic to my request to interview one of their vets although I did say that I wanted to video the interview! That may have put them off 😉

        1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

          Yes it probably has because videoing someone puts them on the spot, an email interview gives the person time to ponder their reply. I hate phone calls because I feel pressured, I would much rather write than talk.

  6. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    We could do with more UK vets to interview but it seems hopeless when only one has agreed so far.

  7. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    I posted the link on facebook as I do all PoC articles, hoping to attract more visitors to this wonderful site and one comment says:

    Q. “Would you come out publicly against USA vets who declaw?”
    A. No, sorry I don’t think any vet from any country would.”
    Well, fortunately, he is wrong about that, as clearly even American vets are coming out publicly against their colleagues who declaw.

    Of course John meant vets in countries where they don’t declaw, we know some American vets are coming out against declawing publicly now. I didn’t think that needed making clear.

    1. Good point. From a business point of view I can understand this person’s comment but from an ethical and moral point of view the comment doesn’t make any sense because anybody who’s got some morality in him and any veterinarian who is genuinely concerned about the ethics of their profession will publicly come out and criticise declawing. I would go so far as to say that veterinarians who are uncomfortable with declawing and who work on either side of the Atlantic Ocean should come out and criticise it in the interests of all domestic cats.

  8. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    You’ve got hiccups Dee lol
    Yes and confirmed that there is no way to declaw a cat, it’s amputation! It should never have been called declawing.

  9. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    The mature John is a very polite man, well I can’t say the young John who I knew wasn’t that too, but he was far more outspoken lol
    I suppose it’s a very English loyalty to other vets, interview, stiff upper lip about cats suffering, but UK vets can’t change what USA and Canadian vets choose to do.
    Thankfully The Paw Project vets are trying to change their American declawing colleagues with their scientific evidence and non declaw vets are backing them up and we have seen some who say they will never declaw again.
    This all has to be the beginning of the end of declawing, I just wish so many more cats didn’t have to suffer until that day comes.

  10. Nice interview, R.
    He confirmed everything we’ve ever said about the motives behind declawing here.

  11. You did fantastically well to get the interview. It’s a very good interview and what John says is exactly the kind of thing that we are saying. John’s responses to your questions were what I would expect from a good vet in the UK.

    The interview highlights the bizarre nature of what is going on in America. In England we have a veterinarian who thinks declawing cats in America is frankly ridiculous (reading between the lines) and yet in America almost 100% of veterinarians believe it to be acceptable. Polar opposites! Bizarre, because they are both veterinarians trained to a similar standard and with similar ethics. Or the ethics should be similar but apparently not.

    We have to conclude that the ethics of the American veterinarian are lower than those of the English veterinarian and for the American vet ethics take a back seat to money.

    1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      John will be in his 50s now and I think his generation of UK vets really did care more about the patient than making money.
      Not one of the other vets I contacted asking about an interview even replied, but now I think we know why, because it’s nothing to do with them? Or because they don’t want to upset others in their profession by telling the truth? What do you think?

      1. You ask a very good question, Ruth. Why don’t British veterinarians speak out about declawing? If they did it would put pressure on American veterinarians. If they do that it might hasten the ending of declawing and if that happened it would help millions of domestic cats in America. Surely British veterinarians would like that to happen, wouldn’t they?

        I don’t want to tough on British veterinarians but I can’t understand why it would upset anybody if they spoke out about declawing. Perhaps there’s a close connection between British veterinarians and American veterinarians. In fact, there must be a close connection.

        That being the case British vets are indirectly supporting the declawing of cats in America by standing by and doing nothing about it.

        I feel that declawing is the business of British vets because we are one planet and we are all connected, quite closely these days because of the Internet. The bottom line, once again, is business and money and it even touches British veterinarians, of course.

        1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

          But that means that anyone who knows about the cruelty of declawing but doesn’t speak out is indirectly supporting declawing, American doctors are supporting it by recommending cats are declawed when a baby comes into the family or someone has compromised immunity.
          Maybe part of the trouble is that people don’t realise the full horror of the surgery, would a human doctor know it was amputation? He/she surely should!
          I think UK vets don’t even want to think about declawing, it just isn’t in their mind set, they didn’t learn how to do it and probably most have never given it a thought until they were asked how they feel about it.
          It’s so unthinkable and shocking here in the UK, I still can’t come to terms with it even 6 years after finding out it happens. I’d long forgotten that one person who asked about it and would probably never have thought about her again.
          If it wasn’t for the internet, I think most UK people wouldn’t give it a thought either.

          1. But that means that anyone who knows about the cruelty of declawing but doesn’t speak out is indirectly supporting declawing

            I believe that. It is a bit like a person watching someone else being hurt in the street, someone vulnerable, and doing nothing about it. If something is wrong people have an obligation if they have the means, time and the motivation, to do something about it.

            1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

              You are right Michael, we wouldn’t stand by and see someone in the street being hurt, we’d try to help them (as we are doing for the USA with declawing) but some people would just hurry on. They don’t want to know, or maybe they don’t care, out of sight out of mind type of people. I couldn’t ignore it, or walk away and forget it, I’d feel guilty.

          2. Do you think, though, if the Royal College Of Veterinary Surgeons spoke out about declawing it would speed up the process of the gradual banning of this unnecessary operation?

            1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

              I don’t know, maybe it would, maybe we should contact the RCVS and ask their views and if they would encourage their members to speak out.

              1. If you could achieve that you’d be made a Dame of the British Empire 😉 I am sure it would put a lot of pressure on US vets because I am convinced there is a business connection between the two.

              2. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

                I can only give it a try, nothing ventured nothing gained.
                The AVMA throw me in the trash lol they hate me, but the RCVS are pastures new 😉

              3. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

                Well I’ve emailed the RCVS info address, they do have a contact form on their page but none of the options fit and unsurprisingly I put ‘declawing’ in their search box and nothing came up.
                Declawing just doesn’t exist in the UK and as far as I know it never has.
                I don’t suppose we will hear back very soon with being almost the weekend but I’ll post here any feedback I get…..IF any of course.

    2. I’m skeptical….I think vets in the UK would seize the opportunity to boost their revenue if declawing were legalized. Not all but some, which incidentally is the same in the USA where some do and some don’t declaw.

      I wish I were wrong because that would be better for cats.

      1. You could be right. However, it is not in our mentality to declaw cats. It is not part of our culture and no one even thinks about it. It does not enter our heads. Somehow the idea got into their heads of American veterinarians.

        However, the fact that British vets are extremely reluctant to talk about declawing even anonymously indicates that there is a connection between British and American vets and that connection is no doubt built around business. So there is already a business connection on this side of the Atlantic with respect to declawing.

      2. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

        You are wrong! When declawing was legal here our vets would never do it, I always remember one vet telling the only client I knew who ever asked for her cat to be declawed, that she wouldn’t find a vet in the entire UK who would perform such cruel surgery.

  12. Well there’s hard evidence of what we all suspected, even though professional ethics stop this vet from joining in the fight against declawing I don’t think we’re left in any doubt of his opinion of the procedure and the reason behind some USA vets eagerness to make it available, I really hope he is right and declawing does become illegal in the near future, I know it’s complicated with all the states of the USA acting independently but surely someone somewhere with a shred of compassion has the power to say “Right, that’s enough, stop the torture now!” BTW I love the poster Ruth.

    1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      Thanks Babz, yes someone should call a halt to declawing and soon!
      PS I enjoyed the tea and cakes you made for after the interview 😉

  13. ‘But take heart, I can’t envision declawing staying legal much longer.’

    Right on! What halfway-thinking person can?

    A great veterinarian, and a great interview, Ruthie!

    Might get up to the library today or – at the latest – this Sat.

    xxx + 000

    (Also intend to work you over until you decide to plug into Skype so you can conduct spectacular one-on-one interviews with cat people worldwide.)

    1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      Thanks Sylvia. Sorry you will never get me on Skype, I’ll have no luxuries while cats are going hungry and that money can feed some of them. I don’t need and don’t want Skype.
      Email awaiting you at the library x

    2. Silvia Ann, although I would love declawing to end very soon or even in the not too distant future, I don’t believe it will happen. I can see the declawing of cats going on in America for another 10 years but it will end one day because it has to, being, as it is, so blatantly in conflict with a veterinarian’s ethics and code of practice.

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