About The Paw Project


The Paw Project’s mission is to educate the public about the painful and crippling effects of feline declawing, to promote animal welfare through the abolition of the practice of declaw surgery, and to rehabilitate cats that have been declawed.

The Paw Project educates the public about why declawing is inhumane. Many people, including animal lovers, do not realize that declawing is a surgical procedure in which the animal’s toes are amputated at the last joint. A portion of the bone, not just the nail, is removed. Declawing may result in permanent lameness, arthritis, and other long-term complications. The practice, although common in the United States, is actually illegal in many countries. Great Britain’s Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons goes so far as to declare declawing “unnecessary mutilation.”

In a misguided attempt to keep big cats such as lions and tigers, as pets, their owners have the animals declawed as cubs, believing that they will be protected against injury. Later, when the cats prove to be poor pets, weighing hundreds of pounds and eating 20 pounds of meat a day, they are often neglected, confiscated by animal regulatory officials, or abandoned. They often end up in animal compounds or sanctuaries.

The Paw Project actively advocates campaigns to legally ban declawing at the community and state level. Some of our legislative milestones:

  • In 2002, Dr. Conrad approached West Hollywood (California) City Council members and convinced them that declawing of all animals should be banned. The council adopted an anti-declawing ordinance soon after (April, 2003) and became the first city in all of North America to ban declawing.
  • In 2003, Dr. Conrad and the Paw Project team provided data about the debilitating effects of declawing to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which then changed its position on declawing of wild and exotic cats to no longer condone it. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association quickly followed suit.
  • In 2005, The Paw Project team led the successful campaign to legally ban declawing of wild or exotic cats throughout the entire state of California.
  • In 2006, The Paw Project team was able to convince the USDA, the governing body over animals that are exhibited, bred or sold, to stipulate a regulation in the Federal Animal Welfare Act, prohibiting licensees from declawing or defanging their animals.
  • In 2009, The Paw Project team led the successful campaigns to legally ban declawing of domestic cats in seven more California cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Burbank, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Beverly Hills and Culver City.
  • In 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1229 into law, the first ever state law in the US prohibiting landlords from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize their animals. Senator Fran Pavley authored the bill, which the Paw Project co-sponsored with HSVMA.
  • In 2014, Rhode Island enacted a new law, similar to the 2012 California law, that prohibits landlords from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize their animals.

The Paw Project facilitates reparative surgery for cats that have been declawed. Thanks to our generous donors since April 2000, veterinarians working with The Paw Project have performed reparative surgery on lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, jaguars and domestic cats that had been maimed by declawing. The results have been dramatic. Enjoying relief for the first time after years of suffering, cats that could hobble only a few agonizing steps before surgery, now are able to leap, run and play much more as Nature intended. View a list of Big Cats that have had paw repair surgery »