Categories: Declawing

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

Cougar claws/paws. Photo: NaturesFan1226

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.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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