Oct 11 2017

Save a Paw, Don’t Declaw!

Save a Paw,
Don’t Declaw!

Several years ago the doctors and team at Kortright Animal Hospital chose to discontinue performing declaw procedures on our feline patients. Declawing entails the amputation of a cat’s third ‘toe bone. Unlike human nails, cats’ claws are attached to the last bone in their toes. A comparison in human terms would be cutting off a person’s finger at the last joint of each finger. Not only is this procedure ethically controversial as it truly is an elective amputation but scratching is a normal behaviour for cats. Scratching conditions the claws, serves as a scent and visual marker, and is a means of stretching.

A recent article in the Pets Magazine states that the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has revised its previous position statement from 2011 on the declawing of domestic cats to clearly oppose the procedure. The CVMA changed the position statement’s title to Domestic Felid Partial Digital Amputation (Onychectomy or Declawing) to better reflect the nature of the procedure, and explicitly states that it “opposes elective and non-therapeutic Partial Digital Amputation (PDA), commonly known as declawing or onychectomy, of domestic cats.” The statement says”…from an ethical viewpoint, the CVMA views this surgery as unacceptable as it offers no advantage to the feline and the lack of scientific evidence leaves us unable to predict the likelihood of long-term behavioural and physical negative side effects.”

Recent behavioural research has advanced to allow veterinarians in this field to help clients deal with unwanted scratching behaviour. There are now many alternatives to declawing your cat. These include:

o providing cats with scratching posts/pads
o regularly trimming the claws to prevent injury or damage to household items
o considering temporary synthetic nail caps such as SoftPaws
o using synthetic facial pheromone sprays and/or diffusers to help relieve anxiety or stress such as Feliway
o providing appropriate feline environmental enrichment

If you have any questions or concerns about your cat’s scratching behaviour, one of our doctors would be happy to discuss all the options with you to help chose the best one for you and your feline friend.

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