Sunday 12 July 2009

AVMA Policy on Declawing Cats

The AVMA Policy on Declawing Cats is shameful and deplorable. It is criminality transformed into normality through deep seated denial and deceit. It is made all the worse by the fact that this association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, profess to uphold the highest standards of professional behavior. The criminality is perpetrated by the pillars of American society, the ever reliable, homely and charming veterinary surgeon. To quote the AVMA, "Veterinarians are members of a scholarly profession who have earned academic degrees from comprehensive universities or similar educational institutions." On their AVMATV webpage they have a logo that reads:
AVMA logo
Yes, I agree. It is a lot more than we think. In respect of declawing of cats it is criminal behavior dressed up as a professional health service. It is also a lot more than you (the vets) think because a lot of them, as mentioned, seem to be in denial at what they are doing. This denial is a creation of years and years of subtle psychology that the vets and organisers of the AVMA have practiced on themselves and employees of veterinary surgeries. Even the name of the procedure is a deception: "declawing", when it is, in fact, the removal of the tips of all the fingers of the cat (usually the front). New laser surgery is probably sold as being "almost painless" with "quick recovery times". "Your cat will be up on his feet in no time" the cosy vet says. Always denying that the whole thing is quite unnecessary (when done for the usual non-therapeutic reasons) and shockingly cruel from the patient's point of view. I sometimes wonder if the vet thinks the patient is the client. The client being the person who comes in and says, "I need a declaw, I can pop in next Tuesday". Vet's answer, "That's fine Mrs Doe, have a nice day..."

See an umbrella page on cat declawing where there are more links etc.: Declawing Cats

The language of the veterinary surgeon is designed to disengage the veterinarian and the staff from what is a grievous assault on an innocent animal that looks to us and depends on us for its care and well being. The procedure is described as follows:
"The claw is extended by pushing up under the footpad or by grasping it with Allis tissue forceps. A scalpel blade is used to sharply dissect between the second and third phalanx over the top of the ungual crest. The distal interphalangeal joint is disarticulated, and the deep digital flexor tendon is incised.. . . Both techniques effectively remove the entire third phalanx" [this means the amputation of the distal phalanx or part of the toe]
In plain language this procedure is:
The removal, with a knife, of the top joint from all the toes of the cat.
The language of denial and disengagement does not stop there. It is everywhere in the American Veterinarian's literature. Take the AVMA Policy on Declawing Cats. The following heads the page on the AVMA website:
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 a zoonotic risk for its owner(s) {revised 04/2009}
This clause, as I said is the header clause and the clause that underpines the whole policy actively encourages declawing when it should do the opposite. It is an attempt to ease the guilt of the AVMA by pretending that they have a policy on declawing. These are my concerns with this defective clause:

The first sentence of the clause says that if a cat, for exampe, damages a piece of furniture and the owner can't stop it, the cat can be declawed. If the owner comes to a vet and says, "Mr Vet, I've tried to stop my cat scratching my new furniture but it hasn't worked, please declaw him". The vet can under this AVMA policy on declawing cats, say, "Yes, fine". It is an open invitation to cat owners who do not know better to get their way against the interests of the cat. When people adopt a cat they know there will be some damage. So declawing will be on the cards before the cat gets home. It is nothing less than an open invitation to declaw. It should be a barrier. In fact it blatantly contradicts the veterinarian's oath and principles of ethics of the AVMA on the same website (see my posting on this: American Vets are Unethical Towards the Cat), which states, "Veterinarians should first consider the needs of the patient....". The AVMA policy on declawing persuant to this statment considers first the client (the cat's owner).

As to the second sentence this refers to the transmission of disease from cat to human (zoonotic diseases). All cats present this exceptionally slight risk. But once again it opens the door wide to mutilation because under the AVMA policy on declawing cats all and any cat can be declawed. Once again it presents an open door to an assault on the cat. If people are worried about their furniture or the extremely rare risk of contracting a zoonotic disease they should not keep cats. We should not customise the anatomy of cats. We do not customise children beause they bring colds back from school or damage the furniture. A further point; a cat's teeth can transmit zoonotic disease: Declawing, why not detoothing as well?

Another, perhaps overlooked, point about the above clause is that is refers to, "domestic cats". It is clearly open season on tame wild cats and there are many Servals, for instance, that are automatically declawed because they are a big cat. Some escape their unsuitable conditions and are killed because they have no defense. See Serval Cat Escapes.

If this leading clause were to be written in compliance with the American Veterinary Medical Associations code of ethics it might read like this:
"Declawing of all cats must not be carried out unless it is under the most serious and unlikiest of conditions and where it is exclusively in the best interests of the cat's health and wellbeing. It is considered by the board of the AVMA that these circumstances will only very rarely apply. The reasons for carrying out the operation must comply with the veterinarian's oath and principles of ethics.
That clause is in the best interests of the patient. As I mention on the Americans are Unethical Towards the Cat posting, the reason why the AVMA has drafted such an open clause is to present to the world "concern" while actually promoting declawing. The clause contains "weasel words". These are words or phrases that are intended to say one thing while the true intention is to do or promote something else. Politicans use them frequently.

The AVMA policy on declawing cats is an example of American short term thinking. I mean policies that seek to create immediate benefit at any cost while disregarding the future consequences. It is a reflection of the consumer society. However, far greater financial benefit would be accrued in the long term if a truly ethical approach was adopted by the AVMA as it would encourage people to see a vet who currently resist seeing a vet because of the cost and distrust. It would also mean that cats were treated earlier. Many cats are probably suffering indirectly through the AVMA's policy as people stay away from veterinarian's surgeries to avoid getting into the clutches of a financially greedy vet and any veterianrian who declaws cats for non-therapeutic reasons is greedy.

The AVMA policy on declawing cats should be redrafted and while that was happening the code of ethics should be properly policed as numerous vets in its association are flagrantly in breach of its policies (see this website for example: The Declaw Hall of Shame). The AVMA must lead in the interests of the cat and all animals as that is the underlying reason for its existence. It is time that the AVMA served the interests of the cat not their wallet nor the callous cat owner requesting declawing.

Further valuable reading.


  1. Yes it's shameful that the AVMA are turning a blind eye on those vets declawing cats when it is obviously not done as a last resort ! Declawing kittens is criminal,they may not even grow up with scratching problems, especially if provided with decent scratching posts. It's far too easy for lazy selfish owners to have a kitten declawed just because they can.Some people say it's no big deal for a kitten, they soon recover. No big deal that the kitten is deprived for life of the claws he was born with and needs !!! People who do this don't love cats, they love the fact they can adapt the cat to their idea of a cat, a cat with no claws is not a cat, he is a cripple !The AVMA care nothing about cats, that's for sure !All enquiries to them, if they deign to reply at all, the reply refers you to their policy that declawing is a last resort procedure .Every head vet of each state refers you to the AVMA policy,but some even state they encourage declawing at a young age as it's better for the cat. That makes a mockery of their very own policy as they contradict themselves !!
    How can people trained to help animals,agree to mutilate them ?

  2. The AVMA are very clearly protecting the financial interests of themselves and their members.

    It is obscene that they have been allowed to get away with this level of dishonesty and hypocrisy for so long. The whole issue of Onychectomy reeks of corruption, from the policy setting bigwigs at the AVMA right down to the lowly, hard hearted, uneducated Vet Techs who happily promote and defend the atrocity to clients as a way of showing loyalty to their old achool, barbaric employers.

    Many unqualified Vet Techs actually carry out Onychectomy with only a cursory glance around the door of the surgery from the supposedly supervising veterinary surgeon - this HAS to be illegal, yet nowhere does the AVMA even refer to this blatent abuse of their ethics.

    Money, as ever is the motivating factor in all animal abuse at commercial level. Welfare, education and above all humaneness should be what drives these so called professionals, not filthy lucre.

    In my view any vet or tech who declaws or commits other mutilations in the name of vanity (which is what ALL declaw surgery is) on any animal, should instantly be struck from their professional register as unfit for practice. I hope I live to see the day when this barbarism is outlawed.

    More people must not only be educated and see what a crippling procedure to cats this is, they must grow some balls and speak out against it to their peers!

    It would help if Behavioural Science and Ethology received some importance as a taught subject in Vet Schools. Many vets cannot even correctly identify when a cat is in pain. So what chance do the ignorant pro-declaw public have if even the professionals they turn to have no clue about feline behaviour?


  3. The AVMA cannot be so blinkered as to not realise the devastating effect of declawing for a cat, therefore we have no alternative but to believe that really they don't care about the animals themselves but just about pandering to the whim of ignorant people who have no concept of how to care for a cat. Money and politics are obviously at the top of their list of priorities.


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