Cat Declawing in San Francisco

cat sitting in a boxSan Francisco was the first major city to ban the practice of onychectomy (declawing) of cats except when necessary for a therapeutic purpose.  In case you’re wondering, “therapeutic purpose” means “necessary to address the medical condition of the animal, such as an existing or recurring illness, infection, disease, injury or abnormal condition in the claw that compromises the animal’s health. “Therapeutic purpose” does not include cosmetic or aesthetic reasons or reasons of convenience in keeping or handling the animal.”  San Francisco Health Code, Section 45.

At the time San Francisco passed this ordinance, and in many subsequent arguments over declawing, ban opponents have maintained that a ban on cat declawing will result in an increase in cat surrenders and euthanasia as pet parents determine that they cannot maintain a relationship with cats with claws.  A recent study conducted in British Columbia debunks that argument.

The study reviewed the records of cats admitted to the British Columbia Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals for the 36 months prior to and subsequent to the May 2018 ban on elective onychectomy.  For the 36 months before the ban 41,157 cats were admitted while in the 36 months post ban 33,430 cats were admitted.  In addition to total intake numbers, the study looked the two time periods and compared:

  • euthanasia and length of stay were descriptively compared between periods;
  • proportions of cats and kittens surrendered for destructive scratching; and
  • the proportion of cats and kittens surrendered with an owner request for euthanasia.

In BOTH time periods, destructive behavior was an uncommon reason for owner surrender (less than 0.18% of cats were surrendered for this reason) and there was no statistical difference in the number of cats surrendered for destructive behavior pre and post ban.  The total number of cat surrenders, the live release rate and the average length of stay remained stable (or even improved) post the ban.  Please note that this correlation does not mean that there was causation between the ban and any number improvement.  But while there may not be causation for the improvement in any data, there is most definitely NOT any data to support any causal argument that a ban on cat declawing leads to an increase in owner surrender or euthanasia effectively debunking a major argument against such bans.

Thanks for reading.

Pet Camp Cat Safari has been providing San Francisco’s best cat care since 2007.  At most pet care facilities cat care is an after through to dog  care, at Cat Safari cat care is our only thought.  From custom cat condos to our “Safari Solarium,” everything at Cat Safari was designed with your cat’s healthy, safety and fun in mind.  We would be honored to answer any of your questions about Cat Safari or cat care in the San Francisco Bay Area, please just give us a call.
Source: “Effect of a provincial feline onychectomy ban on cat intake and euthanasia in a British Columbia animal shelter system”