If the AAFP truly cares about the welfare of cats, they can do what their European equivalents, International Society of Feline Medicine/ICatCare.org, have done for years, and that is to only give their Cat Friendly accreditation to vet practices that don’t declaw cats.
In October 2015 we respectfully reached out to the AAFP and asked them if they would do more than writing politically correct words in their position statement and actually do something that would help to end declawing. I reminded them that their European equivalent veterinary association, ICATCare.org / ISFM, has a mandatory requirement for their Cat Friendly practices and that is that they MUST NOT declaw cats.
So the President, Chair of the Feline Welfare Committee, and Executive Director at the AAFP wrote me back and said this….
First, let us start off by saying thank you for contacting us. Declawing is certainly a controversial procedure about which cat owners need to be educated. In fact, the AAFP recently updated our declawing position statement. The new position statement takes a strong position on educating cat owners that declawing entails amputations, and we provide extensive details of and recommendations for alternatives to declawing. The statement places an unequivocal focus on veterinary professionals having an obligation to educate cat owners on the anatomic details of what a declaw entails, alternatives to declawing, and the inherent risks and complications of the procedure.
The stance of our association, and one we work to communicate to professionals and cat owners, is that declawing is NOT a medically necessary procedure for cats in most instances (i.e., cancerous lesions of a toe bone would be a rare instance where amputation of that digit is required). We are also in the final stages of producing a brochure for cat owners that outlines and clearly emphasizes the alternatives to declawing. This brochure will be published on our website this month; we’d be happy to send you an electronic version as well as some printed copies if you’d like them.
Last but not least, let us clearly state that the mission of the AAFP is to improve the health and welfare of cats—all cats. The AAFP does not have legislative power to “allow” (or disallow) any procedure.
The AAFP has a Social Media Disclaimer and Moderation policy which we ask all to adhere to for those that utilize our site. While it is our intention to never to hide content or block individuals from our page, if content violates our policy, we reserve the right to remove that content and may block the offending user.
Again, we thank you for your passion of and interest in the welfare of cats.
All the best,
Susan Little, DVM, DABVP (Feline)
Paula Monroe, DVM
Feline Welfare Committee Chair
Heather O’Steen, CAE
Let me tell you my friends that AAFP (and AAHA) 100% CAN make rules that would NOT allow declawing at their CAT Friendly practices and with their CAT Friendly veterinarians.
There is NO law saying that they can’t make rules that their vets must follow. They have certain standards that any “Cat Friendly” practice must adhere to so they also have the ability to only accredit practices that don’t declaw cats. How can a practice truly be “Cat Friendly” if it performs the most inhumane, cruel, mutilating, and unnecessary procedure in veterinary medicine?
***Disclaimer- I was blocked by them on their facebook page and asked about it. I had simply made some posts that respectfully asked them if they would do the same as the ICatCare.org organization and say that was a violation of their policy. I think they just didn’t want me shining light on how their CATvets and cat friendly practices declaw cats and often do it as a first option with no counseling cat clients. This was the last post that I did on their FB page that evidently “violated” their policy since they blocked me after it.
Here are just a few of the recent appalling examples of AAFP vets or Cat Friendly Practices who are not following any of the AAFP guidelines.
From the website of Heartland Animal Hospital PC in Illinois.
This is a YouTube Video where these vets at this AAFP “Cat Friendly” GOLD status practice like to tout how great they declaw cats with their $35,000 laser machine and how they like to declaw them when they are kittens at 3 months old. Laser Declaw Video from Heartland Animal Hospital PC
This place happily announced that they became a “Cat Friendly” Animal hospital and then the next week later want you to know that they are proud to “FIX UP” cats by amputating their toe bones and claws to protect your furniture.
This CAT Friendly AAFP and AAHA practice in Florida is so happy about their $45,000 laser machine and proud of their laser amputation skills on cats, they posted this photo of a laser declaw on Instagram yesterday. Hmmm, no gloves or mask over the nose on the assisting tech? Also a day or so later they posted a photo of a dog getting its nails trimmed. Guess AAFP should have a “Dog Friendly/Cat Hater” accreditation for places like this since they aren’t going to have any accountability with their practices.
Just to confirm how this practice addresses declawing, a few folks did a “spot check” to ask to get a 3 month old kitten declawed and a 2 1/2 yr old cat 4 paw declawed. (Remember, the top bigwigs at AAFP personally told me that their cat vets have an, “obligation to educate cat owners on the anatomic details of what a declaw entails, alternatives to declawing, and the inherent risks and complications of the procedure.” )
This practice said that declawing involves, “taking the nail out at the root.” When asked if laser is better they say, “it cuts and cauterizes and is quicker healing.”
When asked to 4 paw declaw a 2 1/2 yr old cat, they say that they will do it in stages, 2 different $urgeries, the front two and then back two, because it’s too much on the cat at one time to do all four at once. But for $381.70 to $501.70 depending on the blood panel that is done. Or for a declaw with neuter you can get it done from $359.65 to $528.65 depending on the blood work.
When asked if there are any long term consequences, they do say, ” it is painful because you are taking the whole root of the claw out so it is a painful procedure but they will be fine.” They say in 7 to 14 days the cat will be completely healed.
Sadly there was no mention of alternatives, risks, complications, or even the truth about what this inhumane and cruel procedure is at this practice.
In May 2015, this longtime AAFP veterinarian talked these first time cat owners out of using soft paws and said that declawing is a standard and common procedure and their cats will be fine.
Here is an AAHA practice that has the largest professional staff in the Midwest, with 17 veterinarians, most are AVMA members and AAFP members. They have been serving this community for 50 yrs. Their motto is that they are “Caring for your best friend.” When you call them to inquire about getting your cat declawed, they ask you if you want the front paws or all four paws.
There is only this information on their website. No efforts to educate the client on the effective humane alternatives on the website, in person, or on the phone. Just the fact that you can bring your kitty in anytime and they will require a $60 exam to see if the cat is healthy enough to have this disabling surgery and for $359.50 you can have all the toe bones and claws amputated on all four paws.
This is a very popular animal hospital’s “About” page that has 3 AAFP “Cat Friendly” clinics. All three of the clinics declaw kitties and two of them are AAHA accredited and this one even was top 3 finalist for the AAHA practice of the year award.
Upon further research, many phone calls were made to these clinics as new clients and asked about getting a cat declawed to 7 different employees. This specific clinic asked if you want 2 paw or 4 paws. The person on the phone was asked if 4 paw declaw was bad for a cat, the response was, “ As with any declaw the cat is required to stay overnight.”
The price for their non-laser, 4 paw declaw was $430 to $650 depending on the vet that you pick, since they all use different anesthesia and pain meds one person was told.
When asked is the cat going to be hurt or harmed from this procedure. The answer was, “We are excellent at declaws. We probably do more declaws more frequently and more volume than any other clinic.” In all of the phone calls, there was no mention of coming in for counseling on the alternatives or the facts about declawing.
I received a note from a very concerned person about a CAT FRIENDLY CLINIC so I had my mom follow it up by calling this AAHA/AAFP/Cat Friendly practice to see how much it would cost to have a 5 yr old cat declawed on all four paws. The receptionist didn’t ask if the humane alternatives had been tried and gave the price of $480 plus a $70 exam for the 4 paw declaw. My mom asked if there are any problems with doing this and the person said every cat is different and some may have paws that are more sensitive but that they always heal up with no problems.
Here’s the note I received…
“I was in the process of finding a vet in the Indianapolis, IN area because I recently moved here. During the course of my search, I was disgusted to find an AAFP, “Cat Friendly” feline-only vet clinic in Indianapolis who is not only pro-declaw, but advertises a discount on their website for performing the procedure in combination with spay/neuter, and also barely even touches on alternatives to declawing.
I realize this is somewhat common in mixed-animal practices, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it in a feline-only practice. This AAHA practice also makes it a point to say they are one of just 12% of hospitals that are AAHA-accredited, but their policies are in direct contradiction to the AAHA and AAFP stance on declawing.
Is there anything I can/should do? I’m normally not the type of person to set out to complain or anything like that, but I’m worried people who are not educated on declawing will take their cats there, and assume the vet is trustworthy and knows so much about cats due to having a feline-only practice, and declaw their cats, all the while not knowing any better. Its just really bothering me. Luckily, I found Dr. Nicole Moran at the CAt Care Clinic, through the Paw Project fb page, and will be taking my two cats to her”
Here is the description of how this 30 yr member vet of the AVMA, AAHA hospital, and AAFP vet promotes her special declaw method to deceive cat owners in to thinking that it is better than the guillotine blade method…
“How is a Declaw surgery done differently at the ______ ______ than some other clinics?
• At the _____ we surgically dissect between the last two toe bones. The joint capsule and associated tendons and ligaments are severed completely at the joint space.
• Many hospitals crush the last bone. We find that procedure to cause increased pain during healing and increased likelihood of nail regrowth and infection. Healing is faster if the entire bone is removed.”
No words are necessary for this Cats only practice. AAHA, AVMA, and AAFP all say declawing is amputations but this practice wants to deceive their cat clients to believe that declawing is just removing the toenails. And they advise clients to do a tendonectomy on their older and heavier cats and that it is “less traumatic.”
Here is another sad example of a CAT FRIENDLY practice that doesn’t follow the guidelines of the AAFP
Thanks to your tips that this Cat Friendly and AAHA practice wasn’t counseling clients on humane alternatives, had a coupon on their website for it, and was declawing kitties on all four paws, no questions asked.
She said all four and asked if there are any negative consequences or how they perform the declaws.
The receptionist said, “ Basically with a laser they heal up quicker and it’s less painful and within a week they will be healed.” And it will be $475. 55 for all four paws.So the next day, my mom tried to go about this in a private way to just have an educational dialogue, and wanted to see if this practice knew about AAHA’s and AAFP’s revised declawing policies.
She spoke with one of the managers and told her that she was my mom and why she was respectfully reaching out.
The manager said that they were just re-certified in June 2015 and that AAHA went over their website, researched protocols, and toured their practice. This manager told my mom in a condescending way, “ You’re not in a place to say if we counsel clients with the humane alternatives and I’m going to end this conversation now.”
And she hung up on her!!!