Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Fight Against Declawing

Cats have just found a new safe haven. In Berkley California declawing your cat is now a minor crime. They are one of the growing list of cities, including San Francisco and West Hollywood, to ban this practice. Berkeley’s city council unanimously voted to ban declawing in the city. Backers say that declawing is proven to be inhumane and painful to the cats that undergo the surgery. Councilman Jesse Arreguin, who co-authored the law, says that most declawing is done to benefit the owner, not done because of an extreme situation. Veterinarian Dr. Cristianne Schelling exposes the truth of declawing, “Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat’s toes,” she says, “A cat’s claw is not a toenail.” Declawing is actually more of an “American” thing. In countries like England, Italy, France, and Ireland declawing cats is either illegal or is considered extremely inhumane and performed under the most extreme circumstances. Cats, unlike most mammals that walk on the soles of their paws or feet, walk on their toes. All of their muscles, tendons, joints, ligaments, and nerves are specially designed to support and distribute the cat’s weight across its toes as it goes about its daily duties. A cat’s claws are essential to their lives. Claws are used for exercising, balance, and for stretching in their back, shoulders, legs, and paws. As  Dr. Cristianne Schelling explained before, a cat’s claw is not at all like the human fingernail, it is the last bone in the cat’s toe. In order to be declawed a cat must go through 10 separate, painful amputations. Why? Because, in order to remove the claw you must remove the bone, nerve, collateral ligaments, and the extensor and flexor tendons. A rather graphic comparison to this practice would be like having each of your fingers cut off at the last joint. Surprisingly, the California Veterinary Association opposes such bans against declawing, saying that the decision should be made between the owner and veterinarian. Their spokesman Carl Singer says “there are some cases where declawing is preferable to putting the animal down.”
    I firmly support the fight against declawing and I applaud the city of Berkeley for making this decision. I own two cats and I shudder to think of making them go through the pain of declawing. I know what people think when they’re scratched. I’ve been on the receiving end of many pretty serious scratches. Even so, I can’t see what these people see in declawing. Others seem to be more concerned in the health of their furniture then the health of their cats. For these cases and many more there are always happy, humane solutions. For instance, you could train your cat to scratch a scratching post instead of your new couch. You could trim the front claws, which actually doesn’t hurt at all if done properly. I utilize this method on my cats annually. One of the best solutions I’ve seen though, are Soft Paws. These little vinyl caps are glued onto the front claws. These are great for people who don’t have time to train their cats to use a scratching post or don’t trust themselves to trim properly. In the end it up to the public to make the humane decision and stop declawing today!

  • “Berkeley Bans Declawing of Cats” 11/11/09, The Mercury News, web address:
  • Informational Website, “What You need to Know About Declawing” “Outlawed Countries” “Technical Facts”, web address:  


  1. Great post Little Black Cat! Declawing is a bit of a hot button issue on the CB and not often mentioned, but it needs to be exposed as the mutilation that it is. People need to learn just how bad it is for cats and how the only reason to ever declaw is to save a paw from injury and disease.

    Those Californian cities are breaking new ground in the humane treatment of cats in your country. One day I hope America will join the 38 countries of the world where it is banned, illegal or severely restricted.

    Those veterinary associations are just trade bodies out to protect the income of vets who prefer dollars to animal welfare. As proved by the HUGE amount of money the CVMA put up to get Governer Schwarzenegger to sign a law stating that no city may put an ordinance into law that restricts what procedures practitioners can carry out on patients. The cut off date for Californian cities to set up new ordinances was the end of December. So it's up to great people like The Paw Project to come up with new ways to get this cruel and totally unnecessary procedure banned in other cities.

    It's time that vets allowed (encouraged) their staff to tell clients the truth about declaw surgery and allow them to make fully informed decisions. Most vets who declaw do not allow clients to be told that it's a wholesale amputation (by scalpel or laser, it's still amputation) until after the procedure has been done.

  2. Thank you for you wonderful comment! That's exactly the response I wanted from that post. It pains me to see that so many people declaw without knowing the truth. Hopefully in the future, as you said, vets will educate their patients better.