The Paw Project
12 hrs ·
First, “Cat-Scratch Disease” is a misnomer…caused by misunderstanding about the cause of the disease. In scientific literature, the disease is currently more often called Bartonellosis. Bartonellosis, caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae, is transmitted via flea feces. Declawing is not recommended on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage regarding prevention of Bartonellosis ( While it can be argued that flea “dirt” embedded under a cat’s nails can be the source of infection when a person is scratched, it can also be caused by flea bites, or any wound caused by any means that is contaminated by fleas feces containing the Bartonella bacteria. The logical and medically sound method of prevention is to provide solid, ongoing flea control, not amputation of a cat’s digits.



Partial Digital Amputation (Onychectomy or Declawing) of the Domestic Felid – Position Statement 3/16/2017



The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) opposes elective and non-therapeutic Partial Digital Amputation (PDA), commonly known as declawing or onychectomy, of domestic cats.



  • Scratching is a normal behaviour in cats.
  • The CVMA views non-therapeutic PDA as ethically unacceptable when performed without comprehensive client education including a thorough review of available alternatives, as the surgery has the potential to cause unnecessary and avoidable pain and alternatives to PDA are available.
  • Veterinarians should educate clients about strategies that provide alternatives to PDA.


  1. Scratching is a normal feline behaviour. It is a means for cats to mark their territory both visually and with scent, and assists with nail conditioning and whole body stretching. Nails are used by cats to assist with balance, climbing, and self-defence.
  2. Partial digital amputation (PDA) is the surgical removal of the third phalanx of each digit. Non-therapeutic PDA is generally performed for the convenience of the owner to eliminate the ability of a cat to cause damage from scratching. The surgery typically involves the digits of the front paws, although surgery on the digits of all four paws is sometimes undertaken.
  3. Veterinarians strive to use their scientific knowledge to promote animal health and welfare and relieve animal suffering in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics (1). With or without concrete scientific evidence, ethical consideration has to be given to the welfare of the animal. Veterinarians need to consider what advantages non-medically driven PDA’s offer to the feline. Viable alternatives to PDAs exist. Therefore from an ethical viewpoint, the CVMA views this surgery as unacceptable as it offers no advantage to the feline and the lack of scientific evidence leaves us unable to predict the likelihood of long-term behavioural and physical negative side effects.
  4. The CVMA recognizes that appropriate medical therapy may necessitate surgery, including PDA (2). Medically necessary PDA surgery may include, but is not restricted to, biopsy of a nail or phalanx or surgery  to treat: neoplasia of nail bed or phalanges, severe or irreversible trauma, immune-mediated disease affecting nail bed, paronychia (inflammation or infection), onychodystrophy (abnormal formation), onychogryphosis (hypertrophy and abnormal curvature), onychomadesis (sloughing), onychomalacia (softening), onychomycosis (fungal infection), or onychoschizia (splitting) (3).
  5. Surgical amputation of the third phalynx of the digit alters the expression of normal behaviours in cats, causes avoidable short-term acute pain, and has the potential to cause chronic pain and negative long-term orthopedic consequences (2,4-7).
  6. As with any surgery, PDA can result in complications due to adverse reactions to anesthetics, hemorrhage, infection, and lack of effective perioperative pain management.
  7. Since the third phalanx is removed by PDA, cats must thereafter bear their weight on the second phalanx. This fact has implicated PDA as a cause of lameness. It is recognized, however, that lameness is difficult to diagnose and detect (5). For this and other reasons the long term orthopedic effects of PDA are poorly understood.
  8. A recent long-term study assessed cats six months after PDA (6,7). No significant differences were found between cats that had undergone bilateral forelimb onychectomy with successful outcomes and cats that had not. Specifically no differences were noted in peak vertical force and vertical impulse, the most commonly evaluated parameters in kinetic gait analysis, when measured at least 6 months after surgery. Since the original study only considered cats with successful surgical outcomes, the results likely have limited application and generalizability.
  9. Both acute and chronic pain in felines can result in an increase in behaviours such as inappropriate elimination, excessive vocalization and increased aggression. The CVMA believes that current studies on long-term behavioural effects as a result of PDA are insufficient to draw firm conclusions about its role in causing chronic pain. The CVMA will therefore continue to review new studies as they are published (8,9).
  10. It has been suggested that PDA be performed on cats in order to decrease the health risk to immunocompromised humans. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not list PDA as a means of preventing disease in either healthy or immunocompromised individuals (10).
  11. There are currently no peer-reviewed studies that identify a higher rate of relinquishment of cats with intact claws versus cats that have undergone PDA, including in countries in which PDAs have been banned. Partial digital amputation is not considered to be a justifiable alternative to relinquishment (11).
  12. Tendonectomy is not an acceptable alternative to PDA because it causes similar pain post-surgery (8) and could lead to increased complications if the nails are not properly maintained.
  13. Veterinarians should educate their clients about reasonable and effective alternatives to PDA including providing advice on the design and location of scratching posts and other suitable scratching materials and approaches aimed at preventing aggressive play behaviours.
  14. Other strategies that offer alternatives to PDA include:
  • feline pheromone sprays to redirect the cat to more desirable scratching materials;
  • double-sided tape to deter cats from scratching the edges of furniture;
  • regular nail trimming (recommended every two weeks);
  • artificial nail covers;
  • environmental enrichment and appropriate daily play to decrease feline aggression;
  • avoidance of hand/foot play which can lead the cat to see these human parts as prey;
  • the application of basic principles of reinforcement of desirable behaviour, including the use of catnip, treats, and verbal praise.
  1. Partial digital amputation procedures are currently banned in several countries and/or regions including the United Kingdom (e.g., Ireland, England), Europe, and Australia.
  2. In the current absence of a legislated ban on PDA surgery in Canadian jurisdictions, the CVMA, though opposed to elective and non-therapeutic PDA, supports the actions of provincial veterinary governing bodies that require that veterinarians, as a minimum, provide clients with information regarding PDA surgery, potential side-effects, and alternatives that is sufficient for owners to give informed consent (12).
  1. Veterinarians have the right to refuse to perform non-therapeutic PDA surgery. If alternatives fail to alleviate undesirable scratching behaviours, veterinarians have the right and responsibility to use professional judgement for a humane and ethical outcome.


  1. CVMA Veterinarians Oath. 2004. Available from: Last accessed September 30, 2016.
  2. Mills KE, von Keyserlingk MA, Niel L. A review of medically unnecessary surgeries in dogs and cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2016;248:162-171.
  3. Verde M. 2005. Canine and Feline Nail Diseases. Proceedings of the NAVC. Available from: Last accessed August 2, 2016.
  4. Robinson DA, Romans CW, Gordon-Evans WJ, et al. Evaluation of short-term limb function following unilateral carbon dioxide laser or scalpel onychectomy in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;230:353–358.
  5. Stamper C. Osteoarthritis in Cats: A More Common Disease Than You Might Expect. Available from: Last accessed March 30 2016.
  6. Romans CW, Conzemius MG, Horstman CL, Gordon WJ, Evans RB. Use of pressure platform gait analysis in cats with and without bilateral ocychectomy. Am J Vet Res 2004;65:1276-1278.
  1. Schnabl E, Bockstahler B. Systematic review of ground reaction force measurement in cats. Vet J 2015;206:83-90.
  2. Hellyer P, Rodan I, Brunt J, Downing R, Hagedorn JE, Robertson SA. AAHA/AAFP pain management guidelines for dogs and cats. J Fel Med and Surg 207;9:466-480.
  3. Cloutier S, Newberry RC, Cambridge AJ, Tobias KM. Behavioural signs of postoperative pain in cats following onychectomy or tenectomy surgery. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2005;92:325-335.
  4. Panel on Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Guidelines for the prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections in HIV-infected adults and adolescents: Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Available from: Last accessed March 30 2016.
  5. ASPCA Position Statement on Declawing Cats. Available from: Last accessed March 30, 2016.
  6. Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association Information and Consent Form for clients who request cat declawing. Available from: accessed March 30, 2016.

(Revised November 2016)


Two Declawed Cats-Tendons Are Severely Contracted And Bone Fragments Inside The Paws

I took two kitties to Dr. Hammerele at The Pet Doctor today in O’Fallon to have their poor declawed feet examined. The first cat (where both paws are in the radiograph) has tendons so severely contracted, her toes have curled over. No wonder she is obese – it hurts so badly to walk! The next photos show bone fragments in most of her toes. This is like if we had a piece of glass in our shoe and it stabbed us every time we walked. Both kitties have surgery scheduled and are on pain medication and anti-inflammatory meds. Declawing does not save cats’ lives – it only makes their lives painful! Declawing does not keep cats in homes – one of the cats I took today is from a rescue! Also, good to note that neither of these cats had any outward signs of pain or typical issues. No biting or aggression or litter box aversion. One cat is just painfully shy and withdrawn while the other is morbidly obese. Pass this along and spread the word about The Paw Project.


Declawed Against Policy-Keaton Not Using Litter Box-Toe Joints Do Not Fully Extend-The Paw Project

The Paw Project shared The Paw Project – Texas’s post.
20 mins ·
This is Keaton from our friends at Second Chance Pets in League City, TX. He was adopted as a kitten with a no-declaw policy. Instead of returning him to their organization, as requested, they rehomed him to someone who declawed him. Afterward he started not using his litter box consistently and found himself back with the rescue organization, thankfully. Their astute staff knew he needed help so they took him to see Dr. Nicole Martell-Moran at the Feline Medical Center in Houston for a paw evaluation.
Keaton did not have bone fragments left behind from the surgery however his toe joints could no longer fully extend. This can cause chronic muscle pain and discomfort all the way up the limb to the elbows. He was given pain medication to try and is finally with people who understand his problem. Wish him luck on finding a new forever home! If you are interested in more information about this boy contact Second Chance Pets (




Some no-declaw vets may remain members of the AVMA and try to effect change from the inside. For other veterinarians, the AVMA’s position on declawing is intolerable. Here is a letter from one of them.
Jan 29, 2018
American Veterinary Medical Association
Dear Colleagues,
I am writing this letter to explain why I can no longer be a member of the AVMA….
It is time to take a stronger stand against the inhumane and cruel declawing of cats in the United States. As evidence of long-term consequences of an onychectomy becomes more widely known, many veterinarians are choosing not to declaw. However, I stand with Britain, Australia and most European nations who have outlawed declawing. I believe that the United States must join these nations and institute a nation-wide declawing ban.
The AVMA’s current position does not call for its members to eliminate this procedure nor does it state any plan to phase it out. This is unacceptable to me. As leaders and representatives of our profession, I implore you to take a strong stand against this cruel and unnecessary mutilation and begin the process to eliminate declawing in the United States.
Until such time the AVMA comes out strongly against declawing, I cannot in good conscience maintain membership.
Karel Carnohan, DVM