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Declawing cuts to the bone

November 24, 2009|By Robert Phipps

At the Nov. 17 council meeting, a number of people, including a veterinarian and an oral surgeon, spoke on the need to prohibit cat declawing in Burbank. An emergency ordinance was requested due to a new state law taking effect Jan. 1 preventing cities from passing laws prohibiting declawing.

The law is sponsored by the California Veterinary Medical Assn., a private veterinarians’ business, advocacy and lobbying organization. Burbank is being asked to join Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Culver City, San Francisco and other cities in banning declawing before Jan. 1.

A number of veterinarians and members of the California Veterinary Medical Assn. have tried to convince us it’s all right to declaw cats. They’ve failed.


First, “declawing” is not like clipping fingernails. It is the amputation of the last bone of a cat’s toes. It cuts through the skin, nerves, ligaments, tendons, muscles and blood vessels at the last joint, equivalent to removing the last bone of a finger. It is permanent disfiguration.

“Declawing” is a PR sales term. It misleads the public — cat owners, especially — into thinking it’s the harmless removal of claws. Vets that “declaw” cats know they’d do far fewer if they accurately called them “amputations” or “bone removals.”

California Veterinary Medical Assn. President Mark Nunez told a reporter for the Burbank Leader: “People are allowing city council members to make medical decisions for their cats instead of leaving it up to licensed professionals.”

Valid “medical decisions” are those made to benefit the patient.

Declawing decisions are made entirely for the selfish benefit of the pet’s owner and veterinarian. City councils must make these decisions, so that cruel or naive cat owners and mercenary veterinarians cannot.

The association also contends that “declawing is preferable to an owner deciding to abandon or euthanize a pet that can’t be trained not to scratch.”

But City Council speakers explained that when cats are declawed, they often resort to biting, or they stop using the litter box and spray in the house from discomfort. Many are then abandoned for those problems.

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