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Animal Doctor: Vet group says no more elective cat declawing

Animal Doctor: Vet group says no more elective cat declawing


Dear Readers: Please read this announcement from the American Association of Feline Practitioners regarding the group’s policy on elective declawing procedures:

The AAFP “is proud to announce a policy update ending elective declawing procedures (onychectomy) for felines in all designated Cat Friendly Practices. ... The AAFP and the International Society of Feline Medicine established the Cat Friendly Practice program as a global initiative elevating care for cats. A CFP designation is a recognized symbol of excellence showing a practice’s commitment in treating feline patients gently and with respect.”

The group says this new policy went into effect for existing CFPs on Jan. 1 and “will be standard in all new practices that wish to earn the designation moving forward.”

More details from the press release: “Feline declawing is an elective and ethically controversial procedure that is not medically necessary in most instances. Many regions throughout the world, including portions of North America, have banned declawing procedures unless there is a necessary medical reason. Many cat caregivers may not realize scratching is a normal and essential feline behavior that relieves stress and allows cats to fully stretch their bodies. With proper education provided by CFPs, cat caregivers will have a better understanding of the procedure and potential risks associated with it.”

The AAFP has also developed a Claw Friendly Educational Toolkit (, and the group’s Cat Friendly Homes website contains educational resources on the topic for cat caregivers (

Dear Dr. Fox: I put a shelter in my yard for a stray cat, who seemed to be quite old. Eventually, he would come to be fed when I called him. It took him about three years to put one paw on my knee, and soon after that, he would jump onto my lap to be petted. Why did it take so long since he already trusted me enough to come and eat when called? — V.R., Halcyon, California

Dear V.R.: Not all cats are cuddle-pusses, and some people who adopt young cats and kittens are disappointed when they grow up to not like being picked up and cuddled. Some such cats will come and sit close by, or on one’s lap, only when they want to. This is the “independence” of cats, which some take as rejection or aloofness.

But in my opinion, it is all genetics of individual temperament coupled with the conditioning of early-in-life experiences. Some cats by nature are innately shy, introverted and cautious, while others are outgoing extroverts. There are also “ambiverts” like our rescued cat, Fanny — who, even after three years living in our home, will only accept being petted when in her bed. She avoids physical contact with me at any other time, yet falls down in front of me when she wants to play, chasing feathers on a string.

Perhaps male cats are generally more extroverted than female cats. While it took me six months before I could even touch one feral tomcat, he became a total cuddle-puss and one of the most playful, gentle and empathetic animals I have ever known.

Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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