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, professes 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

Please note: this is a duplicate of another identical post. This post was made by some computer glitch! I have no idea what happened. Sorry if any confusion has or will be caused. I can't delete it as Google finds them both depending on the search terms.

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. There is little doubt that it is a crime under animal cruelty laws but no one is every prosecuted. It is also a lot more than 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 cat. New laser surgery is probably sold as being "almost painless" with "quick recovery times". "Your cat will up on his feet in no time" the cosy vet says. Always denying that the whole thing is quite unnecessary 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..."

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 wellbeing. 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 underpins 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 example) damages a piece of furniture and the owner can't stop it happening, the cat can then be declawed. That is what it says. 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 pursuant to this statement 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 risk but it is an extremely tiny risk. So 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 because of 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.

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.

Please Note: I like America and Americans but strongly dislike the acceptance by many Americans of the declawing of cats.

Update: I have been reliably told that the AVMA has no authority over the veterinarians in their association. Can this be true? And if so what it the point of the AVMA? How are rogue vets dealt with?


  1. Once again an awesome blog and straight to the heart of it. The AVMA are partners in crime with the money grubbing vets who mutilate cats and kittens on demand. It's time they honoured their oaths and did nothing unless it were for the benefit and wellbeing of the cat and NOT the owner.

  2. A brilliant write up showing up the AVMA for what they really are.They and the vets who declaw, are abusing cats, there is no other word for it,they are committing a crime which is punishable in 37 countries and they shouldn't be allowed to get away with it any longer.Cats are worthless to them,in the USA they don't even count the number of declawed cats scientists use in labs to experiment on.They are not even recognised as living feeling creatures which just shows their opinion of cats !

  3. FED UP in the USA!12 July 2009 at 22:53

    BRAVO for exposing the AVMA's deceptive & fraudulent position statement for the dismemberment of a cats healthy body parts - it is nothing less than ANIMAL CRUELTY! What's also deplorable is the lack of advocacy & protection from the animal welfare organizations on this issue, like The Humane Society of the United States, that still stand behind the "better to cripple than kill" mentality in response to cat scratching, NEITHER are acceptable when it comes to an animal being an ANIMAL! Keep up the inspiring work!

  4. I thought that there was an oath that vets take upon graduation that they will do no harm. This seems to me that this is a major breach of promise.


  5. Hi, there is no doubt that vets who declaw without a very good (and rarely occurring) reason are in breach of their oath. And most if not nearly all cats (20,000,000) in the USA are declawed without good reason!

  6. Thanks for the comment about animal welfare groups not stepping in and voicing concern. I'll tackle that one next. As you say it is nothing short of animal cruelty and in the UK the vet would probably be prosecuted for a crime under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, if the operation was carried out as recklessly as it is in the USA.

  7. Susan in Ohio, USA13 July 2009 at 10:59

    Thanks for more great TRUTH telling Michael! I am all for BANNING this atrocity & prosecuting the vets. The "last resort" means NO cat is safe! The vets claim in my city (Cincinnati) that 60-95% of their cat clients are declawed, despicable. They advertise it, encourage it, etc, meanwhile it is NOT keeping cats in homes or making them more valuable pets, they are being DISPOSED of everyday, & many because of the negative effects of the declawing. I live w/a maimed declawed cat that came from a high-kill shelter (declawing didn't keep him in his 1st home) and watching him live w/painful arthritis is more than I can bear sometimes (my house is ruined w/urine damage cuz he can't use his box, but I know that's not his fault). There are way too many products on the market today to help manage scratching (which is a healthy & beneficial behavior) for declawing ever to exist. SPEAK UP & protect cats from this cruelty Americans!

  8. Hi Susan, Thanks for the comment. I hate vets who do this. You know one justification for doing it is that is stops people disposing of a cat that damages furniture. But the vets are indirectly responsible for the throw away culture of cats because people know that it can be declawed. In other words they will only keep a cat when it is customised by declawing. These people shouldn't keep cats in the first place. Vets are indirectly fueling a poor attitude towards the cat. So declawing goes much wider than the pain, criminality and moral bankruptcy of the process.


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