The Paw Project: Animals and Critical Education in the Public Sphere

Nadine Dolby


The practice of cat declawing is intertwined with how both veterinarians and the public are educated and socialized to make sense of animals and the relationship between humans and animals. In this article, I review the history of the veterinary profession, its intrinsic “hidden curriculum,” and how it has intersected with three different ways of valuing animals through the lenses of animal health, animal welfare and animal rights. In recent years, successful critical public education efforts are changing the way that people think about animals and their use (and abuse) for human ends. I describe the history of cat declawing and how The Paw Project is reshaping the public conversation around this controversial practice. In conclusion, I examine how The Paw Project can be understood as an important critical education project in the public sphere.


Critical Pedagogy; Non-human Animals; Social Justice, Hidden Curriculum; Animal Studies

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ISSN 1920-4175 Critical Education