CVMA Policy on Declawing of Domestic Cats

The decision to declaw a cat should be made by the owner in consultation with their veterinarian. The veterinarian has an obligation to educate clients on alternatives to the declaw procedure as well as potential surgical complications.

The declawing of cats may become necessary for medical or behavioral reasons or when scratching presents a health risk for the owner(s), and should be used instead of abandonment or euthanasia.

The procedure shall be performed in a manner that minimizes the risk of complications.  Pain management is necessary for this procedure.

  • Veterinarians are trained to distinguish medical and behavioral problems and need to be able to continue to educate and counsel clients.
  • Veterinarians do not take the issue of declawing lightly and strive to educate pet owners about available alternatives.
  • Claw removal is sometimes medically necessary for conditions such as tumors or chronic infections.
  • Studies have proven that behavioral problems are the leading cause of unnecessary relinquishment of animals.
  • Not all pet owners are able to successfully train a cat to refrain from using its claws in a destructive manner.
    • Owners who are elderly or disabled may lack the ability or means to provide the needed training
    • Owners, or those living on or otherwise coming on to the premises, may be immunocompromised and thus more susceptible to diseases transmitted through feline clawing.
    • Still others may be faced with pets that are particularly resistant to training.
  • Current surgical techniques and modern anesthetic and pain medications have greatly reduced the pain and discomfort associated with cat declawing.
  • Euthanasia, abandonment, or other forms of relinquishment should not be the last resort for the cat owning public.

(July 2010)  

© 2021 California Veterinary Medical Association

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