At its national meeting in Denver last month, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) revised its policy on declawing to emphasize the seriousness of the surgery, referring to it as an “amputation” for the first time.
“The main intent is to elevate the seriousness of the procedure in the minds of veterinarians and, hopefully, the public,” said AVMA President Dr. Ted Cohn. “It’s imperative that pet owners know that this is not a simple procedure.”
And it isn’t. Declawing involves up to 20 separate amputations, severing not just the nails but the whole joint, including the bones, ligaments, and tendons. Complications include chronic pain, nerve damage, hemorrhaging, bone chips, recurrent infections, and abnormal regrowth of the nail inside the paw. Declawed cats may also develop behavioral problems, including urinating outside the litterbox and biting.
The new AVMA policy emphasizes that vets should educate pet owners about less invasive ways to deter cats from scratching, such as purchasing scratching posts, using double-sided tape to protect furniture, and conducting biweekly nail trims.
What You Can Do
Never declaw a cat, ask your vet to stop performing this unnecessary procedure, and ask your City Council to ban it, as San Francisco has done. Educate your friends and family about the cruelty of declawing: Host a viewing party of the terrific documentary The Paw Project, which is currently available on Netflix.