The Cruelest Cut: How Cat Declawing Became the Next Battleground for Animal Rights

Critics say the common cat surgery is painful and can lead to other problems.

Yet the percentage of declawed cats found among shelter populations seems to vary widely. Scott of the Cat Care Society reports that her shelter currently has 60 cats awaiting adoption. Ten are declawed cats. Most of them were returned eight years or more after they were first adopted. Six of them were returned specifically because of failure to use the litter box.

Not all declawed cats have "inappropriate elimination" issues, of course. Hofve suggests that owners who insist on declawed pets can find suitable ones in shelters without maiming any more. And with better, less costly anti-scratching options widely available, from furniture covers to consults with animal behaviorists, Hofve doesn't see any ethical rationale for the surgery.

"Maybe declawing does save some lives," she says. "But for others, it's a death sentence. It shouldn't be a choice between declawing and getting rid of the cat in the first place. It's a choice between declawing and many alternatives."

More than a toenail: The equivalent of declawing in humans would be cutting off a finger at the last knuckle mark.
More than a toenail: The equivalent of declawing in humans would be cutting off a finger at the last knuckle mark.
Dr. Aubrey Lavizzo says he began doubting the wisdom of amputations after some bad outcomes.
Philip Posten
Dr. Aubrey Lavizzo says he began doubting the wisdom of amputations after some bad outcomes.

"Addressing a behavior problem with surgery in human medicine went out with lobotomy," she says. "This can be addressed with behavior modification, not surgery."
_____________________

At Special Pals Animal Adoption Center in Katy, Texas, Acting Executive Director Elizabeth Trick says her shelter is also against declawing.

"I personally consider it a little inhumane," Trick says. She suggests alternatives, such as a repellent called Boundary, which is sprayed around That Which Shall Not Be Scratched, or the old-fashioned water spray-bottle method.

The Humane Society's Jarl talks about investing some time with your pet. Kittens can easily be taught to go straight to a scratching post, as can adult cats (although a dollop of catnip might be necessary to sweeten the offer at first). Or how about this for a radical idea: Just get your cat's nails trimmed.

If your cat absolutely cannot tolerate a nail trimming, Jarl points to alternatives like Soft Paws — vinyl claw caps — or a special tape called Sticky Paws that you apply directly to furniture or other items you don't want your cat scratching. Eventually, the cat will become annoyed and give up. (The HSUS Web site also has a "Cat Answer Tool," www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/cat_problem_solver/, that provides more advice on how to deal with scratching.)

The only time HSUS believes declawing is justified is in rare medical cases, like cancerous nailbed tumors, Jarl says.

Sheri Sanders, an attorney and the head of Kitty City Feral Sanctuary, is also among those who are against the procedure. Although Kitty City deals largely with feral cats, Sanders says none of her own cats are declawed — domesticated felines need their claws as well.

"They come with claws for a reason," she says, not to mention that "it's unnecessary surgery, which is always a bad idea, because there's a risk. You know, anesthesia is dangerous; you have the likelihood of infection, plus it hurts them. I mean, when you declaw a cat, they remove the last joint on the paw — the whole joint. The bone, the claw, everything, and then they wrap the ligaments around the remaining joint. Now, why would you subject your animal to that?

"If you want a pet, all the stuff that comes with a pet is going to come with the pet — you know, the claws, the occasional pooping, the occasional vomiting...I just don't even understand why anyone would subject an animal they claim to love to that kind of thing."

Sanders adds, "If you want a cat, you know, you have to provide for them what they need. And again, they're predators in the wild; they haven't lost all of those instincts yet...They have to be able to climb; you have to give them stuff to climb on. They use their claws to pick up toys and chase toys.

"If you take their claws away, you've basically relegated them to a position on the floor or the couch or the bed...I'm not saying that makes them miserable; it's certainly better than having them in a pound or loose on the streets where they're starving, but it doesn't have to be an either-or. You know, many people declaw by choice.

"My attitude is: If you have to render an animal that helpless, you should get a stuffed animal."

Craig Malisow and Molly Dunn contributed to this article.

craig.malisow@houstonpress.com

molly.dunn@houstonpress.com

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
30 comments
gloria77503
gloria77503

I'm trying to find a vet in Harris County that does NOT declaw.  That is where I'd like to spend my money.  

txmarine0001
txmarine0001

anyone that follows the  pseudo-science of  Richard J. Herrnstein's philosophies does not deserve to have a computer nor do they deserve to critique anything until they come out of the ass backward way they think. In essence herrnstein was racially profiling people and absolutely refused to have his work peer reviewed until it was published.  stating that African-Americans low test score are due to heritage and breeding. as well as stating that environment has no play at all what so ever in Intelligent decision making. perhaps you should figure out whom the real ass clown is spewing a racially biased social scientist.

roguebotanist
roguebotanist

And while you're at it, stop the cutting off of dog tails and cropping their ears.  How vain can you be to mutilate an animal and showcase it around?

Michael FunkyButt Peck
Michael FunkyButt Peck

Elderly are starving, 14 year old girls are being pimped out in this town, and we are dedicated to cats. We deserve each other

txmarine0001
txmarine0001

I LOVE CATS. ESPECIALLY PICKING THEM OUT OF THE RADIATOR.


Anastasia Molodtsova
Anastasia Molodtsova

I feel so guilty, that I allowed my relative to declaw my kitty. I made a research the next day and was crying and crying. Thanks God, she feels good now, no pain, aggressivity or defects. But in general I think it's interfering with nature.

Judith Cruz Villarreal
Judith Cruz Villarreal

my cat is declawed but I found her that way. i took her in over 10yrs ago. she hates when strangers touch her paws.

Jessica Byerly
Jessica Byerly

I will NEVER make my cat defenseless and in pain...there are products to keep cats from scratching furniture...buy a water bottle and a scratching post people...

Marco LopeZ
Marco LopeZ

This is a cruel thing to do. Its like cutting your fingers off at the first joint. How about taking your cat to the vet to trim their nails. It cost 15 bucks plus you won't be a asshole.

Sheila Flores-Crabb
Sheila Flores-Crabb

And this is why as MUCH as I'd like not to have torn up stuff I still can't do this to my cats. :(

Houstess
Houstess

It's amazing to me how many animal rights activists go way over the top on stupid issues like this, targeting a humane and painless (yes I said painless) way to provide a good home to a loving family for yet another cat that someone did not spay.  By the way, spaying is surgery, and just as not painful as declawing.  These same folks, many of them, stand with Wendy to advocate the dismembering of a fetus over the gestational age of 20 weeks in utero (extenuating circumstances not limiting the thought process).  Not saying this is the author's stance, but largely, the animal "rights" activists also advocate late term abortion.  To say I just don't follow the logic is an understatement.  SMH

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Have a problem with your cats claws? Clip them, with a flat tip they can't exact any damage on anything or anyone, just be sure you know what you're doing so you don't clip the bloodline/quick. This declawing crap is cruel and unnecessary.

slumpville
slumpville

I had a cat that would scratch herself raw. Just to give you an idea of how horrible it was, our walls were splattered with blood all over the house. We tried all sorts of medications and changes to try to help her. Nothing worked well enough to stop her from hurting herself. We declawed her. It greatly improved her quality of life. She did not seem to have any problems. I can't imagine declawing to save my furniture but I have never had cats thats ruin furniture. My current cat was not allowed unsupervised with the couch until we were sure we had taught her that this was not an okay place to scratch.

Kaf1958
Kaf1958

Well, this article was about cats, not 14 yr old girls.

Kaf1958
Kaf1958

The topic is cat declawing, not human abortion.

roguebotanist
roguebotanist

@Houstess Another post for another time unless you want these post to center on the 1950's because you've never left that decade.

Jefs_Old_Boss
Jefs_Old_Boss

@gossamersixteen In fact as many cats get older it's necessary to prevent ingrown claws which are also painful for little cat feets.

hudgal1
hudgal1

@slumpville  Your cat was probably experiencing allergies. I used to have a cat who scratched her self raw like that too. I ended up taking her for a monthly allergy shot. After doing a little research, I have discovered that most pet allergies are attributed to the food they're eating, with corn being the biggest culprit. Switching your pet's food to a grain-free food is the easiest and first thing you should try.

hudgal1
hudgal1

@slumpville Your cat was probably experiencing allergies. I used to have a cat who scratched her self raw like that too. I ended up taking her for a monthly allergy shot. After doing a little research, I have discovered that most pet allergies are attributed to the food they're eating, with corn being the biggest culprit. Switching your pet's food to a grain-free food is the easiest and first thing you should try.

txmarine0001
txmarine0001

@roguebotanist @txmarine0001 so you use a dead social scientist to try and humiliate me when i was making a joke especially a dead social scientist that has literally TOMES of peer reviews that are all criticisms btw i happen to have an established IQ of 120. foolish of you to assume that I do not have an education. I JUST HATE CATS.

slumpville
slumpville

@hudgal1 I agree. We tried the shots and food changes as recommended by our vet, but they did not fix the problem. That is why I said "we tried all sorts of medications and changes". 

txmarine0001
txmarine0001

@roguebotanist  what exactly is incoherent and rambling about my statement? perhaps i should come see you as you have been obviously smoking some of your own botany.

 
Houston Concert Tickets
Loading...