Following publication of our article entitled “Curb Destructive Scratching” in our December 2012 issue, a few readers wrote to us enquiring about Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine’s policy on declawing. The school’s policy is consistent with the approach outlined in the article. We would consider performing a declawing procedure only in one of the following circumstances:
For a cat that shares a household with a person whose health could be at risk if scratched, for example, a person who is severely immune compromised, or; for a cat whose destructive scratching behavior has proven refractory to a complete program designed to redirect the behavior and minimize its consequences, if the cat might otherwise be euthanatized, abandoned or moved to a different household that is not in the best interests of the cat.
In reality, we rarely encounter either of these situations, and we have not performed a declaw procedure at the school during the past 20 years.
Our policy regarding declawing closely parallels those of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the American Association of Feline Practitioners. However, we recognize that declawing is an ethically controversial procedure, and we respect the opinions of both those who oppose declawing under any circumstance, and those who might consider the procedure in other circumstances.
When declawing is elected, the procedure should be performed with strict attention to appropriate surgical technique, and, as with any surgery, effective perioperative pain control should be provided. Cats that have been declawed should be housed indoors, or in outdoor enclosures that provide protection from other animals.