American Association of Feline Practitioners revises declawing position

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has revised its previous 2015 position statement on declawing to strongly oppose onychectomy as an elective procedure.

Scratching is a normal feline behavior, and the obligation falls to veterinarians to provide cat owners with education on normal scratching behaviors and options for cats to exhibit appropriate scratching behavior in the home, said the AAFP in a statement. The AAFP’s position stresses the need for veterinary teams to educate cat caregivers, as many are unaware that declawing is a surgical amputation of the third phalanx.

“The AAFP has been the leader in the world of feline medicine and veterinary care.  It is appropriate that our organization has taken the lead with this strong position statement opposing the declawing of cats,” said Marcus Brown, DVM, chair of the AAFP’s Welfare Committee.

The association said it supports change that focuses on educating veterinary teams and cat caregivers to make a future impact with 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 free to all veterinary practices, including nonmembers, at catvets.com/scratching. This information also is available to cat caregivers, which can be found on the consumer website, The Cat Community, at catfriendly.com/scratching.

“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,” said Nancy Suska, DVM, co-author of the statement. “The American Association of Feline Practitioners has produced many resources, for both owner and veterinary team, to educate about natural feline scratching behavior and alternatives to declawing.”

Other changes to the previous statement include additional resources. View the revised position statement in its entirety at catvets.com/guidelines/position-statements/declawing.

 

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