Disadvantages Of Declawing A Cat

Declawing is far worse than having one’s fingernails yanked out.

There is an atrocity being perpetrated against cats every day in the U.S. to which most people pay little attention – declawing.

Declawing is far worse than having one’s fingernails yanked out. It is amputation. It is similar to removing the finger at the last knuckle, a method used in human torture. Noted animal behaviorist, Desmond Morris, sums it up succinctly, “A declawed cat is a maimed cat.”

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, professor of behavioral pharmacology at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Behavior Clinic, writes in The Cat Who Cried for Help, “The inhumanity of the procedure is clearly demonstrated by the nature of cats’ recovery from anesthesia following the surgery. Unlike routine recoveries, including recovery from neutering surgeries, which are fairly peaceful, declawing surgery results in cats bouncing off the walls of the recovery cage because of excruciating pain. Cats that are more stoic huddle in the corner of the recovery cage, immobilized in a state of helplessness, presumably by the overwhelming pain. Declawing fits the dictionary definition of mutilation to a tee. Words such as deform, disfigure, disjoint and dismember all apply to this surgery.”

What are the benefits to cats from declawing? None whatsoever. Veterinarians who provide this “option” do so for substantial profit for people who care about their furniture more than their cats.

Potential remedies can be offered to counter people’s concerns for their furniture: nail caps, claw trimming, scratching posts, fabrics with no weave in which to insert claws, slipcovers, mothballs, or aversive fabric sprays, sticky tape, and balloons, to name a partial list. Ultimately, though, the question becomes – what is more important, the cat or the furniture? For true cat lovers, the question is rhetorical. As Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson writes in The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats, “…this is probably the price we pay for having a jungle animal inhabit our living room.”

“I will always keep this cat indoors,” those who declaw frequently offer. Visit any shelter to see how many cats reside there because this promise was not kept. Those who declaw only have themselves to blame should the cat slip out an open door without its claws to defend itself.

There is only one humane solution. Declawing must be made illegal in the U.S. as it has been in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. Those who care about cats should start raising the consciousness of local, state, and federal legislators and ask them to propose legislation to outlaw declawing.

If one truly loves felines, then one must also accept that claws come as standard equipment. They are an integral part of what constitutes a cat. Real ailurophiles would have it no other way.

For the animals, Gregory M. Simpson,

Gregory Simpson is Vice-President of the Board of Directors of Meriden Humane Society, Inc., a no-kill shelter incorporated by Connecticut legislative charter in 1893. He is also a past state advisor to the national organization, Friends of Animals, Inc. In the December 2005 issue of CAT FANCY, he was named one of the 40 Ultimate Cat Lovers in the U.S.

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