Want your cat de-clawed? Can’t get it done in Berkeley

The City Council of Berkeley has once again passed a law that may have good intentions but little practical effect, the Oakland Tribune reports.

It has banned veterinarians within its borders from declawing cats. The city voted to make it a misdemeanor for any veterinary clinic to perform this practice. Someone caught doing it within city limits faces a $1,000 fine or six months in county jail. City council members and veterinarians called the practice horrific, inhumane, cruel, and similar to amputation. But a representative of the California Veterinary Medical Association, while agreeing that he doesn’t like to perform the procedure, said members are against the ban because it takes away a decision that should be left to the cat owner and his or her vet. This veterinarian, who spoke against the ban, is located in Hayward.

So, if you still want to get your cat declawed, I suppose you could take Fluffy to him. Or, to a vet in Oakland or even here in Walnut Creek.

The Tribune, citing a staff report to the Berkeley City Council, said:

Cat owners usually have one of two procedures done to remove their cat’s claws to prevent the cat from clawing at personal property or causing minor personal injury.

One procedure is “10 separate painful amputations” called onychectomy where the “last bone of each toe is amputated,” the report stated. In human terms that is “analogous to cutting off each finger at the last joint,” the report added.

A second procedure for removing cats’ claws, called a tendonectomy, removes a “portion of the flexor tendon in each of a cat’s toes, thus preventing the cat from being able to extend the claws.”

Both procedures can cause infection, abscess, hemorrhage, arthritis and “painful regrowth of deformed claws,” the report said.

16 thoughts on “Want your cat de-clawed? Can’t get it done in Berkeley

  1. People who can't deal with the occasional scratching damage that cats cause should not own cats in the first place. That's my feeling. Let them buy pet fish instead. Or go volunteer at a shelter to get their cat fix. Cats *need* to scratch something, for the health of their claws, their backs and their total well-being.

    I've owned one or two cats at a time my whole adult life. Do I have some damage to show for it? Yes, a little, but mainly from when they were kittens, and were uncoordinated about their take-offs and landings.

    My cats have their claws and plenty of scratching posts, and for some reason have no interest in clawing my couch (TIP to pet owners: microfiber is apparently not appealing to cats).

    I will admit to one thing, though: when my current 2 cats were little, the male regularly scratched the wallpaper near the litter pan. I've never seen a cat do that before, so that took me completely by surprise. (Of course, most cats also don't scratch the walls in general. This cat is a little goofy.) Lesson learned – by me, that is! 😉

    Another good tip for cat owners: I read in a cat book that individual cats have very specific preferences for what kind of scratching surface or post to use. My male cat (the wallpaper scratcher of yesteryear) clearly likes vertical surfaces — so he homes in on the vertical scratching posts. His sister is equally as happy to scratch horizontal surfaces.

    So whatever type of fabric or surface texture or alignment the cat likes, don't fight it — get that type of scratcher. The cat and the owner will both wind up a lot happier in the long run.


  2. It is cruel. It almost sounds like you think its ok crazy soccer mom. It is awful. Don't get a cat if you have to amputate part of them to be able to live with them.. geez.


  3. Declawing is a very profitable procedure for vets. Vets these days are desperate to get more business and a ban on declawing would mean less money into the pockets of vets.

    The vet business is a for profit business. They charge high prices for the smallest procedures and try to get you buy additional services such as vaccines, flea baths, special low calorie diets, high nutrition feed, expensive flea medications, etc. Most of these items are just for profit. Your pet doesn't need all of this fluff.

    People say doctor's make a lot of money, but it is the vet business that is really out to gouge people. When your pet is sick all of the costs come out of your pocket. Pet insurance is rare, and even that insurance costs a lot of money.

    I have had many cats in my time and have never had a problem with cats scratching up the house. Cats need to be provided with scratching posts and other items for them to scratch. As long as the cats have things to occupy their time, the cats will not ruin you house.


  4. Dear 6:02 p.m.,
    I have always had cats all my life. Well, for most of it. Perhaps in my post, I didn't seem to take a position … Maybe I was letting people voice their opinions.

    But, no, I cannot imagine subjecting a cat to this kind of treatment and surgery. To me, personally, it seems so unnatural. So cruel.

    We have a cat, and, yes, her name is Fluffy. She went through a phase where she was shredding this one spot on our couch. Then we replaced the fabric, and, for some reason, she stopped.

    She's a sweet kitty, and when she gets petted and scratched, it seems to be her her natural inclination to start “kneading” her paws, like a kitten nursing with its mom. It just seems so instinctual for cats to want to scratch and claw.

    I agree that if you're worried about your precious upholstery, don't get a cat. Just like, if you don't have space for a dog, or time to take it out on walks, DON'T get a dog.

    Not that all cats scratch. As I said, our cat, for some reason, stopped clawing at this one particular place in the sofa, once we replaced the fabric.

    From what I know about cats, this is basic behavior to them. It's how they stretch, release their tension, and, yes, sharpen their claws, to defend themselves against predators (that instinct is hard-wired).

    My cat's claws are part of who she is. Why would I ever remove those?


  5. It makes me cringe just to think about amputating their claws. Good topic though. When I was younger, and a new pet owner, I thought it was standard procedure to amputate claws…that's what one vet actually told me. Shheeesh. How naive I was. I found another vet who completely advised against it. Explained how clipping the kitty's claws on a weekly basis using regular fingernail clippers is all that is needed to reduce the scratching. Certainly not amputating their claws. Needless to say, I stayed with the new vet. We NEVER took any drastic surgery with our kitty. Life worked out find. Kitty lived to a content old age.

    HINT: Cardboard claw boxes are excellent. Trader Joe's sells them and they come prefilled with catnip. Best thing invented, in my opinion! Our 4 cats love them! 🙂 Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow.


  6. We all need to realize the impact to global warming caused by pets. Berkeley needs to begin addressing the larger issue of banning pets from city limits. This will reduce our carbon footprint, traffic and excess waste. Consider a pet free town where we don't have pet stores, more shelf space in grocery stores where pet items were stored could mean smaller grocery stores, less traffic as people don't need to travel to obtain the pet supplies, less trucks carrying pet supplies from the ports to the local stores, veterinary supplies and offices will be eliminated along with all the medical supply traffic etc.

    We need to think more globally and I hope Berkeley will begin to take us to a pet free world that doesn't damage the environment as it does today.


  7. 8:01 – I kept waiting for the joke at the end.

    are you serious? YOU are the reason that people think all who reside in Berkeley are FREAKS – the Peoples Republic of Berkeley.

    Really, pets contribute to global warming? You could take your argument one step further and talk about Population control and the fact that some people don't deserve to live and should be eliminated (think Chinese/Hitler, etc) I can't believe that a simple “want your cat de-clawed…” article turns into a discussion on global warming and population control – unbelievable!


  8. Our cat ruined the leather couch, not to mention the “Cat Scratch Fever” both my girls contracted. (Yes, it is a real disease) I considered declawing our new cat but he is now that he is an indoor/outdoors cat, he does not scratch indoors.


  9. A vet friend of mine was the person who first told me about what declawing really was…this was maybe 20 years ago. She was personally appalled by the practice but if a client came to her and said that they were going to dump the cat or send it to the shelter if it wasn't declawed, she would perform the operation.

    It would be unfortunate if cats in the Berkeley shelter went unadopted because of this law. I'm sure that the vets in the city are lining up referral deals with vets in neighboring towns so that their clients have the choice.


  10. Assuming the poster at 8:01 is legit and not a troll, s/he's probably correct about pets' impact on the environment … But if that poster wants everyone to follow a no-pets rule for the sake of the environment, I hope s/he follows his/her own rules that would apply by logical extension — in other words, that s/he is a vegan, does not own a car, doesn't buy plastics, doesn't use oil, doesn't use electricity, conserves wood products, and remembers to compost, recycle and walk instead driving or riding somewhere. And forget about indulging in air travel.

    When you need to borrow some technological device or some other bit of modernity that impacts the environment, just send up a smoke signal from your cave and the rest of us will be sure to get back to you real soon. Oh, but make sure you don't use the smoke signals on a spare-the-air night, when fireplace use is banned, 'kay?


  11. 7:48

    I'm speaking of pets, not humans. I do my part with my human consumption to limit my footprint on the environment. I do have a car but only use it when walking, biking or public transit are not available. Humans can control their consumption. Yes I do, limit my plastic consumption,compost and recycle.

    Having a pet is excess human consumption per all the items I referenced in my earlier post.

    Hopefully with this current administration and we can begin to change the thought process and eliminate the excess that is damaging the environment. Pets are part of the issue.


  12. so 8:07,

    doesn't “excess human consumption” relate to YOUR car and YOUR bike? Think of all the bike stores that would be limited if you didn't have that bike, and all humans got rid of their bikes.
    Think of how wonderful this world would be if you got rid of YOUR car.
    Seems like you want to have your cake and eat it too. Do you think we should all go back to the Native American way of life roaming the plains and living in teepees/caves?
    Oh, and by the way, clearly you have a computer (more human excess) – think of all the computer stores, mfg, etc that you are contributing to.
    I totally agree with 7:48 – if you can't walk the walk, then keep your thoughts to yourself. The people that complain the loudest about consumption, capitalism, etc are the ones that are also benefiting from innovation, progress, etc.


  13. 9:20

    Your taking it to the extreme level. We are a developed society, so using a computer (saves a lot of paper), driving a car and owning a bike allow us to function in society. We can make sensible choices about when to use them. Pets do not provide some of the basic societal needs so they are excess and they impact the environment in a negative way. This is the direction we need to be thinking. We need to elect more people to begin to more us in this direction.


  14. 9:20, some additional info for you.

    The eco-pawprint of a pet dog is twice that of a 4.6-litre Land Cruiser driven 10,000 kilometres a year, researchers have found.

    Victoria University professors Brenda and Robert Vale, architects who specialise in sustainable living, say pet owners should swap cats and dogs for creatures they can eat, such as chickens or rabbits, in their provocative new book Time to Eat the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living.

    The couple have assessed the carbon emissions created by popular pets, taking into account the ingredients of pet food and the land needed to create them.

    “If you have a German shepherd or similar-sized dog, for example, its impact every year is exactly the same as driving a large car around,” Brenda Vale said.


  15. to people who wont let people adopt a cat because they might get them declawed let me ask you this. Is it better for the cat to be put down by the animal shelter or is it better for him to just be declawed? It may not be the nicest thing in the world, but whether we like it or not, not too many people want to adopt as many cats that are out there.


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