Due to the risks associated with this surgery, Frontier Veterinary Hospital does not declaw cats for non-medical purposes.
Why do cats scratch?
Scratching is a normal feline behavior. Cats scratch to:
- Condition their claws by removing old nail sheaths
- Scent mark objects with the glands on their paws,
- Visually mark objects by leaving shredded matter as evidence
- Stretch and exercise their forelegs
- Enjoy a pleasant sensation
This behavior is natural and important to cats’ physical and mental health. It is very important to provide your cat with appropriate places to scratch; offering your cat different types of scratching posts and pads and placing them in areas your cat likes to scratch can prevent frustration and destruction of your furniture. Your veterinarians will help you direct your cat to appropriate scratching behavior, and the AAFP has a great brochure on the topic.
What is declawing and why won’t Frontier do it?
Declawing is the surgical amputation of a cat’s third phalanges (toe bones) and the attached claws. If only part of the phalanx is removed the claw may regrow.
Declawing cat is becoming a controversial surgery, and is heading in the direction of of other cosmetic surgeries like tail docking and ear cropping. Fewer than half of veterinary schools in the USA include a mandatory lecture or laboratory to teach this surgery.
The major veterinary professional organizations in the US oppose declawing, including AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) by whom we are accredited, the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners), by whom we are designated as a Cat Friendly Practice, and the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). In keeping with these recommendations and our own core values, we choose to not perform declaw surgeries. As an AAHA-accredited, Cat Friendly Practice, we adhere to the highest standards of medical care and are committed to caring for your pets and family as our own using the most cutting-edge knowledge and equipment.
AAHA Position Statement on Declaw
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.
AAFP Position Statement on Declaw
- Feline declawing is an ethically controversial procedure.
- Declawing is NOT a medically necessary procedure for cats in most instances.
- 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.
AVMA Position Statement
- The AVMA strongly encourages client education prior to consideration of onychectomy (declawing). It is the obligation of the veterinarian to provide cat owners with a complete education with regard to the normal scratching behavior of cats, the procedure itself, as well as potential risks to the patient.
- Onychectomy (declawing) is an amputation and should be regarded as a major surgery. The decision to declaw a cat should be made by the owners in consultation with their veterinarian.
- Declawing of domestic cats should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing presents an above normal health risk for its owner(s).
- Surgical declawing is not a medically necessary procedure for the cat in most cases.
- While rare in occurrence, there are inherent risks and complications with any surgical procedure including, but not limited to, anesthetic complications, hemorrhage, infection and pain.
- The surgical alternative of tendonectomy is not recommended.
Did you know?
- Declawing is not performed in the United Kingdom unless it is carried out for therapeutic purposes. Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals prohibits declawing for “non-curative purposes,” but exceptions are permitted if the veterinarian considers the procedure “necessary for veterinary medical reasons or for the benefit of any particular animal.”
- Both the Cat Fancier’s Association and the Canadian Cat Association forbid declawed or tenectomized cats to be shown
- 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.