Approximately nineteen million domestic cats are declawed in the USA at 2020. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) tells us how many cats are declawed in the US although the information is scarce. Clearly not a lot of concern has been demonstrated in finding out the percentage of cats declawed in America. I have to confess at the outset that it is a little bit difficult for me living in the UK to criticise American veterinarians in America for declawing cats. Some Americans will dislike me being involved. However, I feel that this is an international issue and that people like me have a duty to put pressure on veterinarians who declaw cats. This duty falls upon all people who have cat welfare in their minds and hearts.
The AVMA cites two studies. In 1991 it was estimated that 14.4 million cats were declawed. This represented 24.4 percent of the approximate 59 million cats in the country at that time.
A more recent study published in 2014 but only concerning a veterinary hospital near Raleigh, NC, found that 21 percent of cats seen at the hospital were declawed. In terms of the number of individual cats across the country (if that can be done), the percentage equates to about 18 million (estimated 85 million cats in US at that time).
We can say, therefore, with some confidence that at least one fifth of the domestic cat population in America have suffered the unnecessary mutilation of their paws. This would equate to about 19 million cats in 2020. Ten toes are partially mutilated in the operation. Therefore 190 million cat toes were mutilated for no good reason. The ends of these toes went into the medical waste bin. These claws were very useful for the 19 million who are missing them. There were an essential piece of feline anatomy.
Not all veterinarians carry out the operation. A survey conducted in 2014 concerning 3000 veterinarians discovered that 24 percent of them did not perform the declawing operation. Of the 72.7 percent who said that they did, 61.4 percent carried out the operation at a rate of less than once a month. The AVMA said that veterinarians had a wide range of attitudes about the ethics and necessity of declawing. Comment: this surprises me because, without wishing to be cynical, it’s a pretty black-and-white situation namely that it is unethical if it is carried out against the welfare and interests of the cat and for the convenience of the cat’s owner. As it is unnecessary 99.99 percent of the time it is unethical. Therefore these veterinarians have lost their way morally and have certainly forgotten their oath.
There is considerable pressure from the public to ban declawing in America but it does vary from state to state. It will have to be banned city-by-city and state-by-state because veterinarians will not give up the operation voluntarily. Eight cities in California banned declawing many years ago, Denver banned it and so has St. Louis and New York State have recently banned it too. In respect of North America, Canada has banned declawing in quite a few areas and of the countries of North America, Canada is far more progressive in this respect than America.
Cat declawing is banned in about 35 countries including Israel incidentally either by direct reference to the operation or under the general animal welfare laws of the country concerned.