RE: Support for NJ Bill A3899 / S2410 to ban surgical declawing of cats (onychectomy)

January 19, 2017

Dear New Jersey Legislator:

I am a veterinarian and have been in active small animal practice for over 40 years. I am fiercely opposed to the practice of the routine declawing of cats. It matters not how well the procedure is performed nor how much post-operative pain medication is offered — the long term consequences are often the same and damaging to the pet.

Declawing is a disfigurative mutilation of the feet involving digit amputations that always cause physical damage and quite often emotional damage to the pet with long term consequences.
Declawed cats, without their natural defenses often become aggressive and are more likely to bite.

Declawed cats more often show anxieties that manifest in urinating or defecating in inappropriate places, which can often result in relinquishment of the pet to a shelter where the final result is euthanasia as pets with biting and dysuric tendencies are difficult to rehome.

In my career as a veterinarian, I have seen and/or treated hundreds of declawed cats with these behavior problems, most of them showing signs of chronic problems, regardless of the onychectomy technique.
Declawing is a barbaric practice that is outlawed in many countries. The practice does nothing to benefit the cat but is performed as a convenience to the pet owner who wishes to prevent scratching damage to furniture.

Despite the recommendation from the American Veterinary Medical Association to its members to only declaw cats as a last resort, many veterinarians declaw as a first resort and often offer a discounted neuter-declaw package.

The veterinary professional organizations have not recognized onychectomy for what it really is: malpractice.
For a veterinarian to harm an animal and with no physical benefit to that animal is tantamount to malpractice. Despite cautions to their members for decades, professional veterinary associations have not effectively reined in their veterinarians from performing routine onychectomy.

A law is needed to stop the unnecessary cruelty caused by onychectomy. This is not a matter of regulation, for we cannot regulate animal cruelty — we must stop it.
New Jersey has a long and proud history of animal protective legislation. It follows in New Jersey’s proud tradition to lead the nation in becoming the first state to outlaw routine onychectomy and to join the compassionate countries who have already recognized onychectomy for the animal cruelty that it is.


Gordon B. Stull, V.M.D.
NJ veterinarian (lic. # AI001833000)
40+ years of helping and healing petsĀ