Declawing Cats Finally Called Amputation

Declawing cats has been illegal in San Francisco since 2009.  The last time I even had a serious conversation about declawing a cat was during the height of the AIDs epidemic when some of my friends argued that it was the only way they would be able to keep a cat in their lives. That said, it remains a topic of discussion and emotion elsewhere in the pet community.

Well the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has again waded into this discussion by clarifying its declawing policy and by (finally?) defining declawing a cat as both an amputation and major surgery and that pain management is necessary and required for the procedure. At the same time the AVMA reiterated its position that municipalities should not ban the procedure and that the decision to declaw a cat is best left to a veterinarian and a client.

The AVMA’s position is premised on the “scientific data” that cats with “destructive scratching behavior” are more likely to be euthanized or abandoned. Of course at the same time the AVMA says that scratching is a normal part of cat behavior. So where is the line between normal and destructive? Probably, it’s the expensive sofa the cat scratched because either its nails were too long or there was nothing else to scratch. The AVMA acknowledges all of these factors and encourages veterinarians to work with clients to prevent destructive scratching behavior, but it won’t go as far as banning the practice of declawing cats unless it is necessary for either the human or the cat and this is disappointing.

It seems that creating the right environment for your cat is simply part of being a responsible cat parent. I understand that there may be times when declawing cats is the only viable option, but it doesn’t seem that destructive scratching behavior is one of those times. Is it time for the AMVA to take a stronger position on this issue or should we continue to defer to the medical experts?

Thanks for reading!