Declaws to End at Cat Friendly Practices


What a great way to kick off the New Year! From my Steve Dale’s Pet World radio show on WGN, listen HERE as Dr. Kelly St. Denis, president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) discusses why AAFP now says Cat Friendly Practices can no longer maintain that certification if they practice declaw. Simply put, declaw (or onychetomy) is truly an amputation as the veterinarian amputates the end section of the last bone, which contains the growth plate along the nail. And it’s an amputation no matter what technique a veterinarian uses to declaw.

Cat Friendly Practices have earned certification to demonstrate their willingness and ability to adjust what they do to focus on what improves the veterinary experience for cats. Success of Cat Friendly Practices is undeniable. Cat owners have said they are more likely to visit the veterinarian. 78 percent of clients say their experience has improved at Cat Friendly Practices and a whopping 98 percent of practices describe being a Cat Friendly Practice as “satisfying.”

Once thought to not permanently harm cats, there’s plenty of data now to demonstrate otherwise, including chronic pain. Another factor is post-operative amputee pain or “phantom pain,” which we know people can have, so why not cats?

Cats carry most of their weight on their forelimbs, so once declawed they need to shift their body weight in an abnormal way. We now know this can cause various issues related to osteoarthritis. When hurting cats may not “bother” using their litter boxes. When cats have accidents outside their litter boxes, they may be relinquished to shelters or just booted outside. This scenario is only one example of an outcome of declaw.

Dr. St. Denis explains what she tells clients about cats scratching their things. She begins by saying, not all cats do this. AAFP has just now launched a Claw Friendly Toolkit. We discuss a bit why cats scratch and how to intervene to encourage scratching in all the right places. We discuss scratching posts briefly. You can teach an old cat new tricks.

 I tell a story about a cat burglar.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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