Letter: Cat declawing decision should be left in vets’ hands

Keyboard - letter to the editor

To the Editor:

Columnist Scott Reeder skillfully captured the difficult scenarios veterinarians face when considering declawing to ensure the well-being of a cat with its established family. Mr. Reeder recognizes that the more than 1,800 highly trained and licensed veterinarians of the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association care deeply about cats and have sworn an oath to protect them.

Cat declawing is not common in Illinois, and ISVMA stands firmly with the ASPCA, one of the world’s largest humane societies, in asserting that declaw procedures be a last resort. Yet some Illinois legislators are pushing a declawing ban, removing medical professionals from the decision-making process for pets in their care. The bill (HB1533) is now being considered by the Senate.

We find the bill’s language rigid and confusing. Though Mr. Reeder was told the proposed law would allow cats with any physical ailment an exception to the declaw ban, ISVMA members and legal advisers disagree as to whether a cat with a skin condition that causes it to self-injure through excessive scratching could be declawed. Veterinarians would be left wondering what’s legal and what’s not when a cat’s life may hang in the balance.

When declawing is advised for cat well-being, veterinarians use the utmost care, state-of-the-art surgical practices and highly effective pain medications. The proposed ban puts the very cats it seeks to protect at risk of abandonment, life in a shelter or euthanasia. Please tell your state senator to leave the decisions regarding cat health care to our trusted, local veterinarians.

Joanne Carlson, DVM

ISVMA president