Written, directed and produced by veterinarian Jennifer Conrad, “The Paw Project” depicts declawing as "cruelty" and aims to educate the public about “the physical and behavioral harm inflicted on cats that are declawed.” Conrad, who also runs an anti-declawing nonprofit by the same name as the film, acknowledges that her position “often puts her at odds with many in her professional field,” as many veterinarians continue to perform the lucrative procedure.
Declawing opponents say that many pet owners do not realize that the procedure involves amputating the last bone in each toe. They compare declawing to cutting off the tips of a person’s fingers, and assert that it is painful and potentially crippling and can cause behavior problems, such as biting or litter box avoidance. They also maintain there are more humane ways to protect furniture, such as scratching posts, regular nail trimmings, nail caps and double-sided sticky tape. Defenders of declawing insist that the procedure causes no long-term harm to cats and is far better than having a destructive pet surrendered to an animal shelter.
Declawing is banned in many foreign countries but remains widely practiced in the United States, except in eight California cities that prohibit the procedure. An estimated 25 percent of domesticated cats in the United States are declawed.
The film is on a national tour and is coming to the Washington, D.C., area. It will be shown Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema in Bethesda. Tickets are $13 and must be purchased in advance.