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Declawing Hurts. Urge AVMA To Oppose It

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American Veterinary Medical Association
Headquarters: 1931 North Meacham Road, Suite 100; Schaumburg, IL 60173
ph: 847-925-8070; fax: 847-925-1329; email:

Governmental Relations Division: 1910 Sunderland Place, NW; Washington, DC 20036-1642
ph: 800-321-1473; fax: 202-842-4360; email:
Public policy opportunities for veterinarians:

Dear AVMA:

I commend the AVMA for updating its position statement on feline declawing to "only after attempts made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing presents a zoonotic risk for its owner(s)."

However, veterinarians unified under the oath "above all, do no harm," ought to represent the well-being of animals. Neither the surgical amputation of an animal's toes at the last joint (onychectomy) nor the severing of tendons to disable a cat's claws (tendonectomy) is in the best interest of a cat.

"Declawing represents a clear and undisputable risk to the cat," claims Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Professor of Behavioral Pharmacology and Director of the Behavior Clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. "Declawing is inhumane."

In fact, a Journal of Veterinary Surgery report shows 50% of 163 cats who underwent onychectomy suffered from direct postoperative complications such as pain, hemorrhage, and lameness. Of 121 cats observed for lasting repercussions, almost 20% had ongoing lameness. Bone chips that impair healing, recurring infections, and radial nerve injury are among other outcomes linked to declawing.

In over 20 countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada, declawing is either illegal or extremely restricted. I urge the AVMA to join its global colleagues with a position statement that denounces declawing as cruel and unwarranted.

In addition, I respectfully ask you to withdraw the misleading AVMA statement: "There is no scientific evidence that declawing leads to behavioral abnormalities..." This claim contradicts studies, as well as innumerable accounts from cat guardians and shelter workers, that attest to behavioral consequences associated with the removal of healthy bone, claw and tissue.

National shelter surveys reveal that 70-80% of cats surrendered for offensive behavior are declawed. JAVMA's own 2001 study identified the onset of undesirable behavior in 33% of declawed cats, following onychectomy. Nearly 18% started or increased their rate of biting. Over 15% stopped using the litterbox.

Veteran shelter workers are very familiar with post-declaw house soilers and biters. Shelter director William Lombardi, Gloucester County, New Jersey, says cats with claws intact are always relinquished for human-related reasons such as "moving" or "new baby." Conversely, declawed cats are dropped off with behavioral problems. In another JAVMA study (October 2001) Dr. Gary J. Patronek, VMD, PhD., maintains, "…Declawed cats were at an increased risk of relinquishment."

I call upon the American Veterinary Medical Association to firmly oppose declawing procedures. Why inflict pain upon an animal solely for human ease, particularly when so many options for training cats and curtailing scratching damage are now available?

Thank you,

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