The American Animal Hospital Association strongly opposes the declawing of domestic cats and supports veterinarians’ efforts to educate cat owners and provide them with effective alternatives.
Scratching is a normal feline behavior. Cats scratch to (1) condition their claws by removing old nail sheaths, (2) scent mark objects with the glands on their paws, (3) visually mark objects by leaving shredded matter as evidence, (4) stretch and exercise their forelegs, and (5) enjoy a pleasant sensation. Veterinarians must help cat owners to promote appropriate scratching behaviors by advising them to:
• Train cats through positive reinforcement (e.g., treats, use of catnip, verbal praise, etc.) to use the above implements.
• Trim cats’ nails every one to two weeks.
• Consider artificial nail caps.
• Avoid harm to themselves or cats by avoiding engaging in rough play.
Veterinarians are obliged to provide cat owners with complete education about declawing. The following points are the foundation for full understanding and disclosure regarding declawing:
• The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not list declawing as a means of preventing disease in either healthy or immunocompromised individuals.
Declawing may warrant consideration as an alternative to relinquishment or euthanasia, but only after extensive education and presentation of other strategies to manage scratching behavior. Many
Declawed cats are still relinquished to shelters – declawing does not guarantee that cats will remain in households.
This statement does not apply to claw removal when medically necessary to treat conditions such as tumors or chronic infections. If declawing is performed, the procedure must follow current best practices for amputation including multi -modal pain control before, during, and for an appropriate length of time after the surgery.
AAHA believes the current data regarding behavioral issues following declaw is insufficient and will evaluate new scientific information as it becomes available.
Adopted by the American Animal Hospital Association Board of Directors, October 2003. Revised October 2009. Last revised August 2015.
Please talk to one of our veterinarians if you are considering declawing your cat. We may do the procedure after a consultation with one of our veterinarians.
3 Ways to Declaw and their effects