Rethinking Cat Declawing

The practice of declawing cats might not be as simple as some pet owners may think. That’s the message Dr. Jennifer Conrad, a California veterinarian is trying to spread in her documentary against declawing, “The Paw Project.”

Declawing is a surgical procedure performed on cats that scratch people or tear up furniture with their claws. The most common declawing method is called an onychectomy, which is an amputation of the last bones in a cat’s claws.

It’s likened to a human having the tips of their fingers cut off at the last knuckle.  The best case scenario is the cat heals within a few days of surgery, but it’s estimated that 25-50 percent of cats that undergo declawing surgery suffer from some complication.

Proponents of declawing say the practice saves the lives of cats that might otherwise be placed in shelters or left out on the street because of behavioral issues. While declawing may be necessary in some cases, Dr. Conrad argues that the practice occurs far too often and in cases where the surgery is not medically necessary.  

She and other veterinarians against declawing say there needs to be more education surrounding the procedure and possible alternatives. Declawing is outlawed in Israel, Brazil, Germany and many European countries, as well as some cities in California. 

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Should declawing be banned in the U.S. if not medically necessary, or should pet owners always have the option to declaw their cats? Have you had experiences with cats that scratch? Would you consider declawing?

The Paw Project will be playing at the Pasadena Playhouse starting Friday, October 18, 2013 for a one-week run


Dr. Aubrey Lavizzo, Veterinarian and Colorado State Director of “The Paw Project” - a non-profit that rehabilitates declawed cats - big and small; Lavizzo was awarded Veterinarian of the Year in 2011 by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association

Dr. Julie Meadows, Veterinarian and Section Head of UC Davis’ Small Animal Community Medicine and a faculty member in the Internal Medicine Service.

Source :

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