The act of scratching is a natural feline behaviour. Not only does It condition the claws to provide defense from attack, but it also acts as both a visual and as a scent marker of territory (Landsberg, 1991). However, excessive scratching on surfaces or objects can become hugely undesirable in the home and many cats run the risk of relinquishment, euthanasia or both if the behaviour continues long-term. One alternative that has garnered popularity in some parts of the world, is a surgical procedure called Onychectomy – also known as ‘declawing’ (AVMA, 2016).
Declawing is usually an elective procedure in which all or a part of a cat’s toe bones and the attached claws are surgically removed (Kogan et al, 2016). As it is a surgical procedure that carries with it several negative welfare impacts and important ethical considerations, the procedure is banned in some countries around the world, and while the UK and most of Europe appear on that list, the USA and Canada do not (Birdsall, 2018). Although the welfare impacts are widely known, and alternative methods are available to those who look, it has been estimated that approximately 24.4% of owned cats in the US are declawed (Kogan et al, 2016) though this statistic varies between reports (Lockhart et al, 2014).
Many view declawing as an act of mutilation Continue reading