Safeguarding the welfare of domestic cats
AVMA discourages declawing as an elective procedure and supports non-surgical alternatives. Declawing is a major surgery involving amputation and is not medically necessary for the cat in most cases. There are, however, some situations in which declawing may be considered, such as when a cat’s excessive or inappropriate scratching behavior causes an unacceptable risk of injury or remains destructive despite conscientious attention to behavioral modification and alternatives.
The decision whether to declaw a cat should be made by the owners in consultation with their veterinarian. Veterinarians should provide complete education about the normal scratching behavior of cats, the procedure, and potential risks to the patient.
Just as for many other animal welfare-related issues, the AVMA has adopted policy on this topic. To ensure a fully-informed policy-making process, the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Division completed a literature review, which supported discussions by our Animal Welfare Committee and House of Delegates. Their discussions resulted in updates to the AVMA’s policy on Declawing of Domestic Cats. A client handout and education verification form were created to assist with client education and support the decision-making process.