May 22, 2024


The phrase “dogged” describes cat champion Dr. Jennifer Conrad completely. She is the founder and director of The Paw Project, which educates the general public about why declawing cats is inhumane, with the purpose of getting this painful surgical procedure banned fully within the United States and Canada. And whereas there’s a lengthy option to go, she is getting it achieved.

We met some years in the past on the Algonquin Hotel in New York once we each have been there for resident resort cat Hamlet’s charity social gathering. This reserved lady’s pretty smile and social veil belied her spectacular resume and superb achievements to guard cats from this mutilating surgical procedure, typically achieved for no different cause than to protect the household sofa and drapes.

In a world the place activism tends to be loud, in your face and, typically, disrespectful, Dr. Conrad is, like a typical cat, patiently watching and observing, with an innate sense of the best time to pounce and foyer for her trigger — politely. Even on The Paw Project web site, she urges cat house owners to make sure the vet of their selection doesn’t declaw and to not be afraid to say no being a affected person with a well mannered “No, thanks.”

What is Declawing?

Declawing is a surgical process, typically inaccurately termed “onychectomy,” which implies “removing of the nail.” In actuality, the animal’s toes are amputated on the final joint, which is the one option to take away the nail (claw) that grows from deep inside the toe bone. Most folks don’t notice that bone — not solely the nail — is eliminated. While some felines could have rapid problems from the process, it might be many months or years earlier than the damaging results of declawing change into apparent. Declawing could lead to everlasting lameness, arthritis and different longterm bodily and behavioral problems.

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Big Cats, Little Cats

As a newly certified veterinarian in 1999, Dr. Conrad was working with massive cats at an animal sanctuary in California, which was residence to lions and tigers that had been beforehand saved as pets and whose former house owners had had them declawed as cubs believing it will shield them from harm.

Dr. Conrad began The Paw Project out of necessity. She explains, “I couldn’t consider the horrible outcomes I used to be seeing from declawing. I felt one thing should be achieved to assist these animals. I had 40 massive cat sufferers who have been all struggling in numerous levels from the pointless and dangerous amputation process.”

She tells the story of a younger mountain lion named Kona, who was crippled from declawing. “He might barely stroll,” she says. “We began performing restore surgical procedures on these cats and have been astounded by how a lot better they grew to become. Kona might stroll once more after his surgical procedure. It was miraculous.”

Dr. Conrad knew that what was taking place to massive cats was additionally being achieved on a big scale to home cats, too. She believed it needed to be stopped.

Legal Matters

A gathering Dr. Conrad had with Hernan Molina, deputy to the then mayor of the town of West Hollywood, John Duran, who was visiting her at work, modified all the things.

She needed to take the bandages off a lioness whose paws had been repaired a number of days earlier than. Dr. Conrad recollects, “She didn’t need me to take the inexperienced wraps off her toes. I feel it was as a result of she awoke from surgical procedure and her paws felt so a lot better that she appreciated her ‘protecting footwear.’ It was then that I turned to Mr. Molina and requested, ‘Can we simply make declawing unlawful in West Hollywood?’”

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And, in 2003, West Hollywood grew to become the primary metropolis to ban declawing within the United States. Bans within the California cities of Los Angeles, Berkeley, San Francisco, Burbank, Santa Monica, Culver City and Beverly Hills adopted.

“Our purpose is to teach the cat-loving public and make them conscious that declawing is just dangerous for cats, dangerous for the cat’s folks and dangerous for the cat’s veterinarians,” Dr. Conrad says. “No one wins from a surgical procedure that causes cats everlasting harm and ache, causes cats to keep away from the litter field and start to chew, or makes folks hand over their beloved cats, now declawed and struggling, to shelters or for euthanasia.”

Expand the Ban

In 2017, Paw Project Director Dr. Aubrey Lavizzo efficiently bought a ban handed in Denver, Colorado. And then a ban to finish declawing in Nova Scotia, Canada, precipitated six different Canadian provinces to implement declawing bans, too. Dr. Conrad lobbied on, and in 2019 Linda B. Rosenthal, a New York Assemblywoman, bought the whole state of New York to cease declawing. That was an actual coup for Dr. Conrad and The Paw Project. Later that yr, St. Louis, Missouri, additionally handed a municipal ban.

“We at the moment are sponsoring bans in a number of states reminiscent of Massachusetts, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Illinois, in addition to the Canadian province of Ontario,” Dr. Conrad confirms.

She shares that the very best factor that occurred in 2020 was that VCA and Banfield, two of the most important veterinary chains in North America, determined to cease declawing. This introduced 2,000- plus hospitals and 10,000-plus veterinarians on board this trigger.

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“I’m grateful to them for taking the time to take heed to me and that they selected to do the best factor,” she says. “Now that the business customary is altering, organizations just like the American Association of Feline Practitioners really feel extra comfy altering and refusing to endorse ‘feline-friendly’ veterinary practices that proceed to declaw.”

No Big Cats Hurt In This Film

When not lobbying the targets of The Paw Project and including to her legislative milestones assisted by a now-growing group of volunteers and veterinarians, Dr. Conrad nonetheless will get to work with massive cats by offering veterinary help on demand on film units. Big cats just like the tigers that starred within the Life of Pi and The Hangover have skilled her hands-on love, care and a focus.

#pawsforthiscause – So What Can You Do?

  1. The Paw Project’s informative documentary The Paw Project Movie (, streams free on many platforms, together with Amazon Prime. Let lecturers know it’s out there for screening within the classroom. Check out for lesson plan concepts.
  2. Call vet clinics in your space. Are they pro-declaw? Anti-declaw? Let The Paw Project group know for its record of veterinarians and vet clinics that won’t declaw. Write to
  3. Help with additional laws by educating lawmakers in your space and growing relationships with them. Familiarize your self with the prevailing legal guidelines and scientific proof concerning declawing at The Paw Project web site’s Legislative News and AntiDeclawing FAQs web site pages (
  4. Donate to assist fund restore surgical procedures for cats who’re badly maimed in order that they’ll comfortably stroll once more.