Partial Digital Amputation (Onychectomy, Declawing) of Non-Domestic Felids and Other Carnivores Kept in Captivity – Position Statement

May 9, 2016


The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) opposes the surgical removal of claws (onychectomy) of non-domestic felids and other carnivores kept in captivity, except where medically necessary for the animal’s health. In addition, the CVMA strongly urges veterinarians to exert their influence to discourage the keeping of non-domestic felids and other large carnivores as pets.


  1. Non-domestic feline species and other carnivores (such as bears, wolves, raccoons, and coatis) kept as pets in a captive environment have often been subjected to declawing in an attempt to prevent injury to the owner, or to other humans and animals (1-3).
  1. Declawing of these animals constitutes a partial digital amputation and is considered to be a painful procedure involving a lengthy healing period. Post-surgical consequences may adversely affect the animal’s health and welfare.
  1. Postoperative complications, including infection, hemorrhage, bone spurs, and claw re-growth, may occur (2,3).
  2. Corrective surgery may be necessary, and declawing may result in lifelong discomfort for the animal (2).


  1. Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. Keeping of Native or Exotic Wild Animals as Pets. Position Statement 2016. Available from: Last accessed May 4, 2016.
  1. Conrad J, Wendelburg K, Santinelli S, Park A. Deleterious effects of onychectomy (declawing) in exotic felids and a reparative surgical technique: A preliminary report. Proc Am Assoc Zoo Vet 2002:16-20.
  1. Fowler ME, McDonald SE. Untoward effects of onychectomy in wild felids and ursids. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1982;181:1242-1245.

(Revised March 2016)