I thought ConsumerAffairs.com would like to know that the claims the AVMA now makes will have severe adverse impact on consumers and their cats. Even though the revised AVMA statement is an improvement over the old one, they jeopardize American property by denying the declaw/litter box connection.

(Mr. Koretz introduced bill AB 395 which would make declawing illegal in California. But my belief is that declawing is ALREADY illegal under the Animal Welfare Act and under most state animal cruelty laws.)

I sent the letter below to many people - this is my response to the new AVMA statement on declawing.

March 25, 2003
Assemblyman Paul Koretz
State Capitol, Room 2176
Sacramento, CA 95814-0042

Subject: New AVMA declawing statement risks property, security deposits, cats

Dear Assemblyman Koretz,

The AVMA recently announced a new statement regarding declawed cats. The revised guidelines are an improvement, however, they are incorrect regarding behavior. The AVMA claims:

There is no scientific evidence that declawing leads to behavioral abnormalities when the behavior of declawed cats is compared with that of cats in control groups.

But there is evidence which indicates that declawed cats pee outside the box, bite people and are re-homed/relinquished at higher rates than clawed cats.

This AVMA statement contradicts its own 'expert peer reviewed' study on declawed and tendonectomized cats published 1/1/01 in the JAVMA. Cornell veterinarians revealed 28-33% cats suffered one or more post-op behavioral changes (house soiling, cat biting, prolonged lameness, etc.) Also, published 2/1/03 on CourierPostOnline.com, "Eighty percent of the cats that are surrendered that are declawed are euthanized because they have a behavioral problem.... Declawed cats frequently become biters and also stop using litter boxes... One or the other...," said William Lombardi shelter director, Gloucester County, New Jersey.

The AVMA states it will now provide "complete education" to clients regarding declawing. But in order to fully educate clients, veterinarians must acknowledge and disclose all foreseeable dangers: declawed cats cost more to own, bite people, pee all over the house, can't walk, etc. Full disclosure is necessary to help humans and to save cats.

The truth about declawed cats is:

* Declawed cats cost more time and money: Declawed cats are more likely to urinate outside the litter box, bite people, use drugs/insulin, require special litters, urine tests, clean litter boxes, veterinarian and behaviorist visits. Declawed cats ruin property, loose floorboards, drywall, sofas, beds and security deposits due to peeing problems. (HIV/AIDS victims or bleeders especially, should not own declawed cats. Housing a cat who pees a lot could lose the patient his/her apartment. And risk of infection and need for antibiotics is higher when bitten by a cat.)

* Declawing is permanent disablement and disfigurement of an animal.

* Cats scratch trees to strengthen muscles. All cats scratch, declawed or not, because that's how cats exercise. Not by running. It's really hard to get any cat to "run around"-let alone, run around on damaged feet. Cat trees adds living space for clawed cats kept indoors only.

* Declawing endangers the cat's physical and emotional health: toes may become infected and require subsequent operations; cat may not be able to walk after surgery and must be destroyed; diabetic cats should watch their toes; declawed cats fall off of furniture more easily; declawed cats cannot escape dog attacks as readily as clawed cats; phantom limb pain; depression (some declawed cats' personalities change and are never the same again); easily stressed; etc.

* Declawing is NOT the "last" resort. Declawing does NOT save cats. Declawed cats are more often put outside or isolated, re-homed, abandoned and surrendered.

Dictating that the declawed cat must be kept "indoors only" is unreasonable. Outside is the most frequently chosen "last" resort because going outside often avoids/reduces/stops behavior problems. (Peeing-declawed cats lives get extended when allowed outside.)

The AVMA's justifies declawing because they claim it save lives. But when an owner still demands declawing after being 'completely educated,' then the AVMA should wonder whether this kind of owner can provide a good home. A harder-to-own cat is being given to someone who already made it very clear that death is the next and only option. All cats deserve good homes-not homes who demand a cat be only one step away from death.

Besides the pain, homelessness and abuse declawed cats are forced to endure-declawed cats are not safe or inexpensive for people to own. In my opinion declawing constitutes fraud, negligence and animal cruelty. Therefore, it is in the best interest for all Americans and cats for the AVMA to revise it's statement and to never recommend declawing. Annie Bruce
author of Cat Be Good, cat owner consultant