AAFP takes strong position against declawing, offers resources

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The American Association of Feline Practitioners announced Sept. 6 that it has revised its 2015 position statement on declawing to strongly oppose declawing, or onychectomy, as an elective procedure.

Scratching is a normal feline behavior, according to the announcement, and it is the obligation of veterinarians to provide cat owners with education on normal scratching behaviors and options for cats to engage in appropriate scratching behavior in the home. According to the AAFP, veterinary teams need to educate cat caregivers, as many are unaware that declawing is a surgical amputation of the third phalanx, or "toe bone."

The AAFP supports a path of change that focuses on educating veterinary teams and cat caregivers to make an impact that sees lasting results. Veterinary teams will be supplied with a toolkit of resources to assist them in educating cat caregivers about why cats have claws, why cats scratch inanimate objects, best practices for living alongside a cat with claws, ideal scratching surfaces, training cats to scratch appropriately, and troubleshooting inappropriate scratching in the home.

These materials are being made available to all veterinary practices, including those without AAFP members, to download. This information is also available to cat caregivers via the AAFP consumer website, The Cat Community.

Dr. Nancy Suska, co-author of the revised position statement, said in the announcement, "With proper client education from the initial veterinary visit and onward, our clients will be able to provide their kittens and cats with the essential means to exhibit this natural feline function."

Other changes to the previous statement include additional resources. The revised position statement is available in its entirety.

Related JAVMA content:

Association offers handout on cat declawing (Feb. 15, 2015)

AVMA adjusts declaw, antimicrobial policies (Sept. 15, 2014)