The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has amended its policy on the declawing of domestic cats to clarify that the procedure is a major surgery that should only be performed after alternatives have been sought to prevent destructive clawing.
The revised policy describes onychectomy (declawing) as an “amputation” and stresses the importance of client education about normal feline scratching behaviors, what the procedure involves, and alternatives to declawing.
While declawing should not be the first option when trying to prevent unwanted scratching, there may be situations where declawing may be necessary to keep pets together with their families or to prevent euthanasia. Cats with claws may present an increased risk of injury or disease to those whose skin integrity may be compromised (e.g., the elderly, diabetics) or those who are immunocompromised (e.g., those living with HIV/AIDS).
The AVMA believes the decision to perform declawing rests with the owner, in consultation with their veterinarian. What is decided is dependent on each situation; however, with multiple alternatives available, declawing should remain an option of last resort for veterinarians and pet owners.
The revised policy is consistent with the policies of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Animal Hospital Association.