The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) strongly believes it is the obligation of veterinarians to provide cat owners with alternatives to declawing (onychectomy). Declawing is an elective procedure that is highly controversial. The following points are the foundation of the position statement:
- Feline declawing is an ethically controversial procedure.
- Declawing is NOT a medically necessary procedure for cats in most instances.
- Scratching is a normal feline behavior--both inherited and learned. Cat owners should be educated on feline scratching behaviors. Veterinarians should provide behavioral recommendations that allow cats to express these behaviors and reduce those undesirable to the client.
- Declawing is an amputation of the third phalanx (P3).
- It is the veterinarian’s obligation to educate cat owners and provide them with alternatives to declawing.
- Veterinarians should counsel cat owners on alternatives for declawing such as:
- providing cats with scratching posts/pads
- regularly trimming the claws to prevent injury or damage to household items
- considering temporary synthetic nail caps
- using synthetic facial pheromone sprays and/or diffusers to help relieve anxiety or stress
- providing appropriate feline environmental enrichment
- There are inherent risks and complications with declawing that increase with age such as acute pain, infection, nerve trauma, as well as long term complications like lameness, behavioral problems, and chronic neuropathic pain.
Submitted by: Nancy Suska DVM; Gerry Beekman DVM; Paula Monroe DVM; Carlye Rose DVM, CVA, DABVP (Feline; Canine & Feline)