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Tell Tufts-Cummings Veterinary School: Declawing is Mutilation, Stop Justifying It

December 26, 2012 | Take Action

The December issue of the Tufts-Cummings Veterinary School's Catnip newsletter featured an article entitled "Curb Destructive Scratching" which includes an irresponsible sidebar section on declawing entitled "The Declawing Option: What You Should Know," which outrageously serves to legitimize and justify cat declawing in certain circumstances.

The article describes declawing as a "relatively simple" procedure with "slight risks." This is recklessly untrue. In fact, declawing is among the most agonizing procedures a cat can undergo, and can lead to chronic pain and disability, says veterinarian Jennifer Conrad, DVM. While called "declawing," the procedure actually involves amputating a portion of a cat's toes, with life-long adverse affects common.

An important point Friends of Animals has long made to our members is that adopting a cat or dog means taking responsibility for their well being. Declawing-an act of cruelty which should be illegal-means renouncing the responsibility one has assumed when one adopts a cat into one's home. We're so serious about our anti-declawing position that we mandate that our low-cost spay neuter certificates cannot be used in the cat owner also intends on declawing their cat. Our educational pamphlet "Paws Come With Claws: That's One of Nature's Laws," details the various ways that pet owners can protect themselves and their furniture without ever harming their cat.

According to Catnip's editor-in-chief, Tufts-Cummings veterinary surgeon Dr. John Berg, "We do not do declawing procedures at Tufts-Cummings, and would consider it only if one of the very rare instances outlined in the sidebar ever arose." Friends of Animals' New York office contacted Dr. Berg and voiced our opposition to the contradictory message about declawing posed in Catnip's article, yet Dr. Berg insisted that the sidebar was appropriate and even stated that he himself could "imagine circumstances in which I personally would consider performing declawing."

Such a confused and backwards position should not be championed by a well-regarded Veterinary School.

Incredibly, the article also suggests that front-paw declawing does not render outdoor cats defenseless because they can climb "small-diameter trees." What about cats with only wide-diameter trees available, or no trees available? How would a declawed cat escape or defend themselves from a predator then? They would be incapable of doing so.

What are the instances outlined as reasons to amputate a portion of a cat's toes so it can't scratch? If an owner "appears likely to euthanize or abandon the cat unless (it) undergoes the procedure" or if the cat shares a household with someone who is medically compromised.

That is a flimsy justification, and utterly without merit. Many people doing rescue and shelter work know: Declawed cats are abandoned and euthanized just like any other cat.

Although Dr. Berg says he "cannot remember the last time" a declawing was performed at Tufts-Cummings since he started as a faculty member in 1987, Catnip's promoting declawing as a procedure of so-called last resort justifies this cruelty.

And justifying declawing gives vets and uninformed or selfish pet owners the green light to continue mutilating cats for the crime of being cats and doing what comes naturally to them.

Take Action for Cats' Paws--and Lives

Declawing doesn't keep cats in "good" homes. Instead, cats suffer excruciating pain and are abandoned anyway because declawing is not a solution to scratching.

Politely contact Dr. Berg and tell him that Catnip's careless treatment of declawing does a disservice to cats and does not reflect well on Tufts-Cummings.

Call: 508-887-4847


• Ask Dr. Berg to publish an article in Catnip that takes a humane stand--with reasons declawing should never be done as behavioral intervention. If Tufts-Cummings indeed prohibits this unnecessary surgery it's especially necessary for their newsletter to inform their readers why they take this ethical stand.

• Anyone adopting a cat must accept scratching is a normal characteristic of a healthy cat. Amputating a portion of a cat's toes, or severing its tendons (tendonectomy), to deal with this behavior is patently cruel. There are many humane, sensible options, such as behavioral modification techniques, with rehoming a kinder "last resort."

• Bite wounds are as dangerous as scratches. What then? Remove the cat's teeth? To suggest that a cat should be declawed if an owner is medically compromised is absurd. It's important to also note that once deprived of claws a cat may turn to its only other form of defense-its teeth. It is fairly common for a declawed cat to become a biter, doing so out of fear and frustration.

• Declawing does not ensure cats a secure home. People who select, care for and train companion animals responsibly; who have realistic expectations of a cat's innate behavior; and who make a lifetime commitment to their pets are the only things that ensure a cat a secure home.


If you value your furniture so far as to want to declaw your cat, you have no reason to even having a cat. And as a veterinarian that would promote this under any circumstance, get another line of work 'cause i would not consider giving you any business period. And, i would strongly oppose anyone do business of any sort with you. I have four cats, two dogs, two ferrets, two parakeets, and a fish tank. All given to me from owners who couldn't deal with the nurture they need. Guess what? they all learned to respect each other and actually play with each other, what a sight!! I love them all and they love me, that's enough in my book.

I have a cat the people that had her 1st got her declawed when she was a kitten and she lost her leg from it Its sad to see how she get along but she makes the best of it anyone that would do this to a cat shouldn't have cats and any vet that can do this to a cat shouldn't be a vet they are hear to help not make more pain in there life's i used to think it was ok tell i got abi and read up on it i tell people about it and how mean it is thank you for letting me tell abi's story.

Incomprehensible how a respected university such as this could sanction this procedure. A little spray of water goes a long way in curbing a cat's inclination to use the furniture instead of the scratching post, as well as keeping their nails trimmed.

Declawing is the most cruel inhumane thing to do to a cat i can't imagine anyone who understands the surgery or what it does physically and mentally to a cat would ever have their pet declawed the fact the vets even still do it is disgusting i wouldn't take my pets to a vet who would do declawing my vet is completely against it and wont do it period! sent email and shared this must be stopped

Cannot believe this is happening, i have 3 cats in doors & they do scratch my furniture. I know this is part of their nature. To get them declawed would be inhumane,cannot believe vets are still doing this. We need to ban together and speak for all cats and let the public aware of this.

Educators, not quite what you should be called, this is the same as Elle magazine, who is saying in pretty words that its OK to use real fur or faux fur, its not alright to declaw or use fur, why can't you stop doing this kind of stupid ignorant information spiel. I have two rescue cats, and it would never enter my head to do anything so repellent as to declaw and mutilate them. It's time for an outside body to look at this kind of irresponsible way of doing things.

It's hard to believe that educators as yourselves would support cat declawing as an option against scratching. Shame on you! I used to subscribe to "Catnip" but never again.

It is not necessary! If "future vets" would educate their clients on proper cutting at a early kitten age their would be no need for declawing. Practice on cadavers if need be! Retired vet tech. lynn ratcliff

I agree that declawing should be outlawed. It is mutilation and done just for the cats guardian not for the cat. Thanks for taking a stand against it FOA =^..^= I sent email and left them a voice message at Catnip letting them know I am against declawing.

Was a subscriber, will be no more. Your credibility has been compromised.