Is declawing in the UK illegal?

Yes, declawing in the UK is illegal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The operation to declaw a cat would fall under section 4 - Unnecessary suffering.

This is because declawing is unecessary for medical reasons. It is carried out at the cat owner's convenience to protect furniture and so on - i.e. for non-therapeutic purposes.

Sometimes, extremely rarely it might be possible to argue that it should be carried out for the cat's health. Under these circumstances the operation would not be illegal as it would be a necessary operation.

The operation to declaw a cat would, it seems, also be a crime under section 5 - Mutilation.

Obviously the chopping off of the last phalange or phalanx (bone above the last joint of the toe) of each toe of the forepaws is a mutilation of the cat. It is irrelevant that the mutilation is carried out under anesthetic by a skilled person, the veterinarian.

Declawing is illegal in the UK and a crime. The maximum penalty on conviction is a year in prison and/or £20,000 fine. The crime never occurs because the act of declawing for non-therapeutic purposes never crosses the mind of a UK vet.


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