The Paw Project opened last Friday at the IFC Center at 323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street. This documentary produced and directed by veterinarian Jennifer Conrad addresses the practice of declawing cats. The movie runs at IFC through October 3rd with shows at 3:05 and 6:30 PM.
Declawing is a controversial practice of removing the last portion of an animal’s digits. This procedure is done to prevent a cat practicing natural behaviors such as scratching. Providing a scratch pad can enable a pet to perform these behaviors and save furniture. Pet owners frequently believe that it is only the claw that is being removed in the procedure rather than the entire final joint of the animal’s toes. Declawing can result in a variety of immediate or long term complications. Declawing changes the very way an animal supports weight, according to Dr. Conrad’s Paw Project website: “Cats normally walk with their toes bearing the weight of their bodies; each step is cushioned by the pad under the toe. De clawed cats experience extreme pain supporting their body weight when standing or walking, if the tendon attached to the retained segment of the third phalanx pulls that bit of bone under the foot. The displaced bone fragment produces a painful "pebble-in-the-shoe" sensation when they stand or try to walk… To compensate for the pain in their tender paws, cats will attempt to shift their weight farther back on their feet, in effect walking on their "wrists,"… The stresses caused by the abnormal posture and movement, may produce arthritis in the legs, which, in turn, may cripple the cat further and cause it more suffering.”
The Paw Project has pioneered anti declaw legislation with California leading the front in banning statewide landlords from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize animals. Eight cities in California ban declawing of domestic cats and the entire state of California bans the declawing of exotic or wild cats. The documentary follows the story of getting these laws changed.
The American and Canadian Veterinary Medical Association no longer condone declawing exotic or wild cats thanks the efforts of The Paw Project. Now let’s see some of these laws change in the rest of the country and let’s have veterinarians join in not condoning this practice for domestic cats.
For more information on animal behavior visit: www.animalbehaviorist.us