The AVMA has strengthened its opposition to declawing captive exotic and other wild indigenous cats for nonmedical reasons by condemning the practice.
Concerns that pain and suffering associated with declawing may be exacerbated in wild and exotic felines prompted the Executive Board to revise the Association’s position on the matter from opposition to condemnation.
The Association’s policy “Declawing Captive Exotic and Wild Indigenous Cats” was adopted in 2003 and stated: “The AVMA opposes declawing captive exotic and other wild indigenous cats for nonmedical reasons.” The policy was reviewed and reaffirmed in 2008 and was reviewed by the Animal Welfare Committee in 2012, in accord with the directive that all policies be reviewed every five years.
The policy was discussed at length during the committee’s fall 2012 meeting, and AVMA member input was considered, according to the AWC recommendation to the Executive Board. Although the AVMA backgrounder “Declawing of Domestic Cats” is not specific to captive exotic and wild cats, references reviewed in conjunction with developing the backgrounder suggest that welfare concerns associated with declawing are worsened for these populations, the recommendation stated.
Committee members unanimously agreed that changing “opposes” to “condemns” is warranted. Other than for medical reasons that would clearly benefit the animal, there appears to be no justification for performing the procedure in this population of cats. While the suggested revisions are strong, the recommendation noted that similar language is used elsewhere in AVMA policy, namely, in the policy condemning soring of gaited horses.