The Paw Project, a Santa Monica nonprofit that advocates for the nationwide ban of a veterinary practice called “declawing,” will host a West Coast-premiere of its self-titled documentary this weekend in Santa Monica.

Laemmle’s Monica Fourplex, at 1332 Second St., will screen the 58-minute movie at 11 a.m. this Saturday and Sunday. “The Paw Project,” which released to a limited audience in New York last month, will be followed by a question-and-answer session with director Jennifer Conrad on both days.

Filmed between 1999 and 2009, the documentary highlights Conrad’s fight against declawing, a surgical process of bone and claw amputation that can cause extreme pain and nerve, tendon and ligament damage in cats.

“It causes behavioral changes — they don’t want to use the litter box … and they start to bite,” said Conrad, who has worked in the veterinary industry for 20 years. “Because of those behavioral changes … declawing actually causes cats to lose their homes”

The procedure is used to prevent cats from damaging furniture or causing injury to their owners, said California Veterinary Medical Association President Ron Kelpe.

“I would tell you pretty confidently that it is not our first choice when someone presents a cat to us that’s having a destructive problem,” said Kelpe.

Kelpe argued, however, that the decision to declaw cats should be left to pet owners, not state legislators — something that Conrad has spent a decade fighting to change.

In 2009, Conrad and the Paw Project were instrumental in banning declawing in Santa Monica. Since she began her campaign in the late ‘90s, cats belonging to 5.2 million Californians are no longer susceptible to the procedure, she said.

“What I really feel will happen is, as the film gets seen by people and they realize it’s the right thing to do, legislators will follow.”

To purchase tickets to one of the screenings, visit


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