The AVMA Condemns Declawing of Captive Wild and Exotic Cats: What about Domestic Cats?

cougar paws
Cougar claws/paws. Photo: NaturesFan1226
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats
Wouldn’t it be miraculous if one day in the near future, those of us who love cats and who truly understand the domestic feline’s nature, and their needs, wake up one morning to hear the long-awaited and joyful news that declawing cats in the United States and Canada has finally been banned?

Although we are only too familiar with and frustrated by the policies concerning feline declawing that the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the American Association of Feline Practitioners recommend, namely that the procedure should not be performed until all other attempts have been made to “prevent the cat from using their claws destructively, or when clawing presents a significant health risk for people in the household”, and strongly recommend that veterinarians thoroughly educate clients prior to performing the procedure; this unnecessary surgery continues to be regularly performed.

But what totally boggles my mind and makes me want to pull my hair out in frustration, is the AVMA?s compassionate, protective and forward thinking policy when it comes to declawing captive wild and exotic cats. In fact, the AVMA condemns this practice.

The AVMA policy reads:

Concerns that pain and suffering associated with declawing may be exacerbated in wild and exotic felines prompted the Executive Board to revise the Association’s position on the matter from opposition to condemnation.

The Association’s policy: Declawing Captive Exotic and Wild Indigenous Cats was adopted in 2003 and states:

The AVMA opposes declawing captive exotic and other wild indigenous cats for non-medical reasons. The committee members agreed unanimously that changing “opposes” to “condemns” was warranted. Other than for medical reasons that would clearly benefit the animal, there appears to be no justification for performing the procedure in this population of cats.

Having gone this far to protect this population of cats, I cannot wrap my brain around why the AVMA fails to consider the damage declawing is doing to our small domestic pet cats and how it is any different than what it does to their bigger cousins.

In direct contrast to the above organizations’ policies concerning domestic pet cats, Paw Project Utah just released even more shocking news based on their study.

1) Do declawed cats where the procedure has been performed correctly leaving no fragments behind make good pets? The answer is “No!”. Seventy-five percent of the owned declawed cats Paw Project Utah has included in their study have presented to their veterinarian within the last year for behavior problems. Twenty-five percent of these cats are currently receiving daily psychiatric mood altering drugs.

2) Does declawing save lives? I.e. does it prevent animals from being turned into the shelter? The answer is “No!” Sixty-six percent of the declawed cats in the shelter have fragments left behind. Twenty-eight percent of these shelter declawed cats have a complete botch of the procedure where huge >5mm fragments are left behind on all declawed toes.

Only twenty-five percent of declawed owned cats have fragments left behind. In this twenty-five percent of owned cats with fragments, they have sixty-six percent who are let outside where they are exposed to predators due to their complete aversion to the litter box. Cats with fragments left behind are more likely to end up cast outside or in the shelter. With a sixty percent failure rate overall (sixty percent of DECLAWED shelter and owned cats have fragments left behind), the risk of a cat having fragments and finding itself outside or in the shelter later in life is VERY HIGH!

The Paw Project Utah study continues, and they already are more than half-way to reaching their study limit of one hundred cats.

Let’s hope that the AVMA, AAHA and the AAFP will be strongly influenced by the inescapable facts that Paw Project Utah and others are discovering due to the result of their studies and they will quickly adopt their policies from “opposition” to “condemns”.

If the AVMA changed its policy regarding captive and indigenous wild and exotic cats they must clearly understand the pain and suffering these cats experience. Please share your opinions about what is preventing them from giving domestic pet cats the same protection.


Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

22 thoughts on “The AVMA Condemns Declawing of Captive Wild and Exotic Cats: What about Domestic Cats?”

  1. In the fifty some years I have been owned by many cats. I never have and never would even consider de-clawing any of them even though they are inside cats.

  2. Bottom line is that de-clawing any cat is barbaric!!! It is not necessary at all. It is painful and causes a multitude of behavioral issues and litter box issues as well. I don’t need a study to know that de-clawed cats are at risk for so many problems. It has to stop. We need to bombard or state and federal government and make them do something. I have seen , first hand, the result of a de-clawed cat that had behavioral issues so it was put outside. I held that cat in my arms and watched it die after a vicious attack by a dog. I have had rescues here that were de-clawed and almost all of them had behavior or aggression issues. It has to stop.

  3. I get pleasure from, result in I discovered just what I was having a look
    for. You’ve ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless yyou man.
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  4. I’m curious about the legal situation. Are there states, cities, towns, etc. where de-clawing is prohibited by law? If so, I wonder what we could learn from them about how to mount a successful campaign. This does seem like a truly horrible practice. Can you imagine having your fingers amputated?

    1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      Declawing has been successfully banned in these Californian cities so far, thanks to The Paw Project:
      West Hollywood, Santa Monica. San Francisco, Burbeck, Beverley Hills, Los Angeles, Berkeley and Culver City.
      It is banned or considered extremely inhumane and very rarely done in 39 countries so far.
      Ultimately we want it banned worldwide!

    2. Hi Cousin Judy! Nice to see you visiting Pictures of Cats.

      As Ruth comments, there are several cities in California where declawing is already banned. And Ruth is right on when she writes that this cruel and unnecessary surgery must be banned around the world. There is NEVER a reason to declaw a cat, unless the cat has a medical condition which requires it. AMEN!

      Come visit us again!

  5. First of all, non-domestic cats should never be pets. They should be left where they belong and not brought into private homes. Declawing any cat should be outlawed, and owners who do not know about the procedure should be totally educated about what they are subjecting the animal to and the torture involved.

  6. As I stated in the Comments for Part 1 of your very informative article, the “health care” Industry is just that — and INDUSTRY and a money mill. Whether humans or felines are the “clients”, the only thing those involved care about is padding their pockets, not maintaining or improving the health and wellbeing of their “patients”. There are some caring individuals who are trying to address these concerns, but they are in the very small minority.

    1. I’ll be honest and say that I despair at the behaviour of the AVMA and their members. It is such an aberration of 100,000 professional, educated people. Is such deviant behaviour from 100,000 professional people. It is clearly wrong. It is so clearly wrong that every one of them must understand that it is wrong to de-claw the domestic cat for non-therapeutic purposes. But as you say, money wins. They should find alternative sources of income. They appear to be lazy about searching for alternative sources of income to replace the declawing of cats.

  7. I agree, Jo. I don’t understand condemnin declawing for big cats, but accepting it for “small” cats. Makes do sense whatsoever, for sure and for certain!

  8. Michael, et al,

    While this comment isn’t strictly about declawing, seems to me that F1- F2, and even F3 should not be in the hands of anyone who doesn’t know a fig about them. They are wild cats, actually- on the way to domestication.. BUT….

    It makes me so angry that these breeders are trying to make “wild” looking felines, by mating domestics with wild cats. Seems to me if someone wants a “wild” looking kitty, there are magnificent tabbies with outrageously beautiful spots and stripes that are 100% domesticated.

    Don’t get me started about Bengals either……

    Sorry for the slight diversion from the topic.

    1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      How I agree Jo! There are more than enough already domesticated cats needing homes without making the situation worse by interbreeding them with wild cats who should be in the wild!
      NO ONE should be allowed to ‘own’ a wild cat and NO ONE should be allowed to interbreed them.
      Oooh now you’ve got me started too!

    2. Yeah exactly Jo. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it – and certainly don’t break it. Humans seem to think everything is a canvas for us to play around and create whatever we like using anything around us including nature and animals. Such arrogance. Making a more wild looking cat at the expense of health and homes for other cats is bad. It’s a bad thing to do. It makes the world a slightly worse place. Why can’t these people realize it and change their act. Sure I would love to do things that I won’t allow myself to do because it’s wrong in some way towards nature. I think these people should stop. If they like cats then they should start a shelter. IF they like kittens and breeding things then they should bloody well save some kittens who need bottle feeding or go and do TNR. IF you care about the breed, breeding, breeds – etc – then bloody well find a compromise where you don’t add to the problem of overbreeding but where you help to solve it. Once you do that then you are welcome to breed.

      You can’t cherry pick. If you care about cats and breeding then you should be making the world better for the cats, not worse, so that breeding becomes acceptable in the greater context. For now there’s too many cats. For now the breeding going on is human oriented and unhealthy for the cats. For now the way we look after cats needs improvement. All these things are essential and must be corrected before people even think of adding more cats of any kind to the world.

  9. Servals as pets are captive, I agree. More than that. The one at A1 Savannahs I met (I stayed in her enclosure with her) was a pet and abandoned to A1 Savannahs where she was living her life in a 30×30 foot enclosure outside with an igloo as a home.

  10. Follow the money! That’s what this is about as far as I am concerned.
    Michael, aren’t Servals kept as pets considered “captive” wild cats? Seems to me that should be the case, and anyone who is sufficiently ignornant and STUPID keeping Servals as pets, and their vets are not paying attention to the AVMA’s condemnation.

    UGH.. a cat is a cat is a cat is a cat. We must drum this mantra into the ears of those organizations who walk around on THEIR tippy toes trying to keep the profession happy. Makes me want to barf to tell y’all the truth!

  11. The different treatment and attitude by the AVMA towards domestic cats and wild cats can only be because domestic cats live with people which reinforces what we already know namely that veterinarians declaw cats for people, the cat’s owner but not in the interests of the cat’s welfare.

    In other words the AVMA is simply supporting non-therapeutic declawing when they treat domestic cats and wild cats differently in respect of their attitude on declawing.

    That said, nearly all the captive, pet servals are declawed by their American owners. And so too are the cougars who are pets. I have met a declawed serval at A1 Savannahs. She hissed a lot and was defensive but that might not have been because she was declawed.

  12. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    CRAZY! What a lily livered organisation the AVMA is!
    They change “opposes” to “condemns” but are too cowardly to totally ban declawing of captive and exotic cats! What a sly way to make themselves look as if they give a damn about cats.
    Not only that but they admit declawing those cats is wrong, yet they haven’t “condemned” the declawing of domestic cats, just skirted round it.
    It’s as if the paws of big cats and small cats are different, as if ten amputations harms the big cats but not the small cats.
    Their policies are not worth the paper they are written on!
    Has NO ONE at the AVMA got any heart? Any integrity? Any compassion?
    Apparently not, they just have dollar signs for eyeballs!

    1. CRAZY! What a lily livered organisation the AVMA is

      Crappy organisation. This variation in the AVMA’s policy towards declawing once again is more evidence that the AVMA agree to declawing of cats for non-therapeutic reasons because it is done for people, for the cat’s owner who lives with her cat and not in the interests of the cat’s welfare.

    2. I say if you don’t like cats with claws then don’t get a cat. They are born with them for a reason. How would those type of people like their fingers removed ? Unless a person truly loves animals DON’T GET ONE !!!

    3. Right on, R!
      “opposes changed to “condemns” doesn’t mean a darn thing.
      Should they put the wheels in motion to make it law, I might have a little respect for them.

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