AAHA, AAFP Cat Friendly Practice, and Fear Free Veterinary Clinics

Here’s a sampling of vet practices that are affiliated with all THREE of these organizations, AAHA, AAFP, and Fear Free.

This is what these organizations say about themselves.

 American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)– “AAHA sets the standard of excellence in veterinary medicine. The AAHA Standards of Accreditation are composed of 940 standards and 18 categories covering all areas of veterinary practice.”  AAHA Petition

We have respectfully reached out to AAHA to see how they can justify declawing in their standard of excellence hospitals but they never got back with us. They have blocked us on social media for shining light on the truth.

Here is a note that a supporter received from AAHA about this same question. AAHA seems to be saying that pet owners can dictate veterinary medicine as long as vets make money from it.

Thank you for reaching out, and for participating in our July BlogPaws chat.

 I understand that this is an emotional topic – as a pet owner myself, I know how incredibly difficult it is to see one of your animals in pain.

   None of our position statements are mandatory standards that accredited practices must follow – position statements demonstrate where AAHA as an organization stands on various welfare issues.

Their purpose is very different from that of our standards.They are not intended to establish a standard of practice that veterinary hospitals must follow.

As an organization, AAHA strongly opposes declawing and encourages veterinarians’ efforts to educate cat owners on positive alternatives to declawing. Similarly, AAHA also opposes canine devocalization, tail docking, and ear cropping.

   Ultimately, the responsibility and final power rests with the pet owner as to whether or not they choose to declaw their cat, or dock their dog’s tail.

It is up to the pet owner to make the decision that is right for his or her pet.

While veterinarians are there to help counsel a pet owner on a possible course of action, the ultimate decision maker is the pet owner.  Part of being a responsible pet owner is being an advocate for your pet and making the choice that is in their best interest – while a veterinary hospital is a partner in that choice, it is not their choice to make at the end of the day.

 Thanks again for reaching out, and for being an advocate for cats.


 Katherine Wessels, Senior Manager, Communications, American Animal Hospital Association, 12575 W Bayaud Ave, Lakewood, CO  80228-2021


American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Cat Friendly Practice– “The Cat Friendly Practice® program is leading the movement to make veterinary care less stressful for cats and their caregivers. Established by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the International Society for Feline Medicine (ISFM), the Cat Friendly Practice® program is a global initiative designed to elevate care for cats by reducing the stress for the cat, caregiver, and also the entire veterinary team.”  AAFP Petition

We reached out to AAFP in 2016 and this is the note that their President sent us. They have blocked us on social media for shining light on the truth.

“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)

AAFP President”


Fear Free Pets– ” Founded by “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker, Fear Free has become one of the single most transformative initiatives in the history of companion animal practice, with more than 52,000 veterinary and pet professionals committed to becoming Fear Free Certified®. Our mission is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.”

We reached out to Dr Marty Becker and the Fear Free folks wrote us back and said this, “Fear Free is not an organization like the AVMA or AAFP and we do not have any formal position statements on this or any other issues; we are an education company. In that role, Fear Free provides a professional course for our members about why they should not declaw as well as alternatives to declawing. This course is complimentary to all our professional members.

We also educate pet owners about declawing, why cats need their claws, and humane ways to manage natural scratching behavior:

Talk to the Claw

Keep Those Claws! Why Cats Need Them

Scratch That!

Clawful Behavior


We don’t have any additional information on this issue.”  

Fear Free email- wags@fearfreepets.com 


The question that we must ask is can a veterinary practice be Fear Free, AAHA (the standard of excellence in vet med), and cat friendly if they perform this inhumane, mutilating, and unnecessary amputation procedure.


We surveyed 13 veterinary practices to see how they address declawing. They all are affiliated with AAHA, AAFP, and Fear Free.

5 practices do not declaw cats.

 The general questioning went like this:

The practice was called by a researcher who wanted to know the price of a spay/neuter declaw. The researcher had concerns about the declawing procedure and asked for a vet who was skilled at declawing. They asked if it was a common procedure.

There were a few variants on the questioning, but essentially the researcher asked the veterinary professional on the phone about the side effects of declawing as well as the frequency with which their vets performed declaws.

All the practices said they require an exam to just make sure the cat is healthy enough to go under anesthesia for the procedures.

We have withheld the names of employees for fear that they might suffer a backlash for their honest answers.


Aug 15 2019


1st Pet Veterinary Centers. Three locations in Arizona. Owned by Dr Randy Spencer. 1st Pet Vet Website

AAHA, Cat Friendly Gold Practice, Fear Free Professionals.

Mesa location.

A spay is $340 and a declaw is $824. Employee said that it is cheaper if you add on the spay with the declaw.

Spay/Declaw is $1010.

Employee recommended Dr Lindgren who they say does declaws regularly.


Chandler location.

Spay is $304 and declaw is $824.

Researcher asked for the doctor who is the most skilled at the declaw procedure. Employee said that they have a cat doctor, Dr Mumaw, and said, “she is a cat lover so if anyone can do it well, it would be her.”


North Valley location. They do not declaw cats.

Employee said that they do not do them. When asked why, they said it is a policy decided by the hospital and no doctor will do them.

The employee talked about how a declaw is performed and how it often causes pain, arthritis, and aggressiveness.


Animal Care Clinic Animal Care Clinic Website

San Luis Obispo, CA

They don’t declaw cats.

AAHA, Cat Friendly Practice, Fear Free Professional.

We sent them a note and asked them why they don’t declaw cats.

Dr. Bonnie Markoff is the owner and founder of Animal Care Clinic and she wrote us a note about why they don’t declaw cats.

“We stopped declawing a long time ago due to the deforming nature of the procedure, the issues with pain control, evidence we had seen with cats having lifelong paw pain in some cases and the fact that there are so many alternatives.  With Feliscratch there now seems to be no reason to do this.  Of course, isolated medical situations might require some level of declaw in certain cats.”


Cat’s Corner Veterinary Hospital   Cat’s Corner Veterinary Hospital Website

Oxford, CT

AAHA, Cat Friendly Practice, Fear Free Professionals.

They do not declaw cats.

The employee was asked why they don’t declaw cats and they said it is inhumane, an amputation procedure, and it can cause arthritis and psychological problems. They said they follow AAHA standards and AAHA is opposed to declawing.

Four Lakes Veterinary clinic. They don’t do declaws.  Four Lakes Veterinary Clinic

Madison, WI

AAHA, AAFP member vet, Fear Free Practice.

We sent them a note and asked them why they don’t declaw cats. Here’s their answer.

“Yes, we have made the decision to stop declawing cats.  There is no good reason to declaw cats and declawing contributes to chronic pain, which can manifest in many ways: bladder inflammation, anxiety, reluctance to jump and play, irritability, obesity.  It certainly isn’t a Fear-Free procedure and because it can directly relate to anxiety and pain, there is no reason it should be done.  There are other options, such as scratching posts, cat trees, keeping the nails trimmed, and plastic nail caps that can be used if the owner has a problem with the cat’s scratching.  
Lori Scarlett, DVM
Anne McClanahan, DVM
Four Lakes Veterinary Clinic”


Intermountain Pet Hospital   Intermountain Pet Hospital Website

Meridian, ID

Fear Free Professionals, AAHA, and CAT Friendly Practice

They don’t declaw cats.


Shawsheen Animal Hospital  Shawsheen Animal Hospital Website

Tewksbury, MA

AAHA, Fear Free Professionals, and Cat Friendly

A spay/declaw is from $837-$894.

They said their doctors use a laser, they do them often. When asked if the cat will be ok long term they said yes but that you have to use Purina’s Yesterday’s News litter which is included in the price. 


Whitney Veterinary Hospital  Whitney Veterinary Hospital

Peoria, Il

AAHA, Fear Free Professional, Cat Friendly

When the researcher asked for the price of a spay/declaw, the employee asked, “Are we doing all 4 or just the front two?”

They said that all their doctors do declaws. Researcher asked for the most skilled vet for the declaw and they said Dr Roe because she is their cat specialist. The spay/4 paw declaw is $537.90.

When asked if they have any problems with their declawed cats, the employee said that you have to keep them quiet and that jumping causes the complications.



VCA Woodland South Animal Hospital VCA Woodland South Animal Hospital Website

Tulsa, OK

AAHA, Cat Friendly, Fear Free professional

They said that a spay and declaw starts at $527. You have to meet for a consult exam with Dr Lawrence to see if your cat is healthy enough for the procedures. She will go over the procedure. They said it’s not preferable but Dr Lawrence will do the declaw. They said it permanently changes their paws but they use a laser and that reduces the complications.


Coral Springs Animal Hospital   Coral Springs Animal Hospital Website

Coral Springs, FL

A spay and declaw is $530. When asked for the most skilled declaw surgeon they recommended Dr Sullivan who they said performs declaws often.


Burrridge Veterinary Clinic   Burr Ridge Veterinary Clinic Website

Darien, Il

AAHA,  Fear Free Professional, AAFP members

A spay and declaw is from $520-600.

The employee said all their vets are good at declaws.

The cat has to stay 3 days after the declaw. When asked if the cat will be ok after the declaw, their vet tech said that there are often behavioral concerns, the cat might become aggressive, and have long-term pain. They said it isn’t ideal and there are other options . They said it’s better than being euthanized for scratching issues.


Crosspointe Animal Hospital  Crosspointe Animal Hospital Website

Fairfax Station, VA

AAHA, Fear Free Professional, Cat Friendly

A declaw and a spay is $500 plus another $200 for medication and antibiotics. When asked if the cat would be ok long term, the employee said that they are taking off their toes and it takes awhile for the cat to get used to that.

They said Dr Paige and Dr Burbrink do the declaws and Dr Burbrink does them pretty often.