How to Piss Off an Anti-Declaw Zealot



I ran across a situation the other day in regards to having cats declawed. I hadn't really given it much thought prior to the incident. I have since discovered that there is a group that is totally opposed to this procedure. Using the word 'zealot' may rankle some but it is the only appropriate one that comes to mind. Having done some research into this area I was quite surprised at what came to light.

First I will state my position so there is no misunderstanding: I have no problems with having a cat declawed. In point of fact all five of mine have had this procedure performed on them. One may ask 'Why'? The answer is rather simple. I did it to protect them from each other. With multiple cats, all coming from different places and times, they tend to not always be 'best buddies'. All of mine are rescues in one form or another.

One of the worst veterinary medical problems I have encountered was an abscess on my (late) Siamese cat. It was at the base of her tail and went unnoticed for some time. One day I ran my hand down her back and the abscess erupted. Exploded would be a better description. It literally filled my hand. An immediate trip to the vet revealed an abscess the likes of which even he hadn't before seen. The treatment involved lancing and scraping the wound followed by some VERY serious antibiotics. Said wound must then be left open to drain so as to not trap any seepage. The opening was as wide as my little finger. It was so deep it actually revealed the top of her spinal column! Due to its severity and location the vet didn't know if secondary infections would end up killing her or not. Only time would tell. Fortunately she did survive. She had been clawed by our other cat. Before the vet worked on her you could see the puncture wound.

At the time I could do nothing about Homeless (the other cat) as he refused to remain indoors. The Good Lord himself could not keep that cat from getting through an open door. Our pond scum ex-neighbors moved and left him behind. I was unaware of this for about a year. One day I spotted him in the yard. Due to his markings there was no mistaking him. By this time he had gone feral and I couldn't get within twenty feet of him. I started putting food on the porch. After a few days I would go out and sit on the porch with the food. Hunger got the better of him and he finally walked up and ate. I was several feet away at first. Each day I would sit a few inches closer. After a period of weeks I could finally sit next to the bowl. Eventually he allowed me to pet him. He turned out to be a wonderful pet and lived for about twelve years. But due to his history he resolutely refused to stay indoors even after having him neutered. When the weather was particularly bad he would come inside. Otherwise he wanted out! No way am I having an outside cat declawed so I was stuck with the situation for the rest of his life.

The rest of my herd remains indoors at all times. As they are not required to fend off attackers in the wild having them declawed brought no real concerns.

Since I have had reason to investigate I've found some amazing claims made in regards to having this done. Leave us to take a look at a few. This list was lifted from the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center web site. Upper case is the 'myth', lower case is their response, and italic is my comment. My comments are based on my personal experience. All of my cats had their claws when I got them so I am able to compare before and after declawing.

MYTH #1: AFTER DECLAWING A CAT IS LIKELY TO BECOME FEARFUL OR EXPERIENCE BEHAVIOR CHANGES IMPAIRING AN AFFECTIONATE RELATIONSHIP WITH ITS OWNER

Numerous scientific studies have been unable to document any behavior changes post-declaw. In fact, in one survey 70% of owners of declawed cats reported an improved relationship with their cat after the procedure.

Never in my experience has this happened. I'll grant you that Garfield is as neurotic as any cat I've seen. However, he was that way before he was declawed. He's just neurotic by nature, not from having his claws removed.

MYTH #2: A DECLAWED CAT CANNOT CLIMB TREES

Declawed cats are not as effective at climbing trees as cats with claws but declawing does not prevent tree climbing.

I've never let mine out personally. I have seen declawed cats belonging to neighbors who let them out (IDIOTS!!!). I can well assure you that they can climb trees. Can they do it as well as normal cats? Probably not. But the average neighborhood tree presented no problems.

MYTH #3: A DECLAWED CAT CANNOT CATCH PREY

Declawed cats are not as effective at catching prey as cats with claws but declawing does not prevent effective hunting.

Yeah, right! Try telling that to my ferrets. They get pinned and held quite regularly by the cats. If the cats were after prey all it would take is one bite to the back of the neck followed by a quick lunch.

MYTH #4: A DECLAWED CAT HAS LOST ITS ABILITY TO DEFEND ITSELF AND SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED OUTSIDE

This one is actually true. Without claws a cat has indeed lost an important part of its defense system. The Mar Vista Animal Medical Center feels strongly that declawed cats should be housed indoors only.

Again, mine are never outside. However I, too, would agree with this statement. While not totally impaired it would stand little chance against a large dog.

MYTH #5: DECLAWED CATS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BITE SINCE THEY CAN NO LONGER CLAW

Declawed cats do not seem to realize they have no claws. They will continue to scratch ineffectively as if they did not know the difference. Studies have shown no increased biting tendency after declawing.

None of mine bite nor did they before. Now if you start playing with them they certainly will but again, they did before as well. Any cat will grab and bite when you rough house with them.

MYTH #6: THE POST-OPERATIVE PERIOD INVOLVES TREMENDOUS PAIN

The declawed cat will indeed have sore feet after surgery. The larger the cat, the more the discomfort and reluctance to bear weight. Pain relievers are often prescribed. However, this recovery period should not last longer than a week or so. Healing should be complete by two weeks.

I have no doubt that it is painful. ANY surgery is painful. Why would this be any different? But, all of mine were back to normal a couple of days after the bandages were removed. I think that they resented the bandages more than anything else.

MYTH #7: A DECLAWED CAT WILL NOT USE A LITTER BOX AGAIN

It is very important that litter not get impacted in the declaw incisions during the recovery period. Shredded paper is the usual recommendation during recovery and some cats simply will not use shredded paper. The recycled newspaper litters are an excellent alternative. The only litter problem one might expect would be lack of acceptance of a new litter during the recovery period. Declawed cats do not loose their litterbox instinct.

Again, the same thing holds true. No difference in the way mine acted. Callie is a problem but this started long after her surgery. Because I brought more cats into the house she stopped sharing the litter box. Nothing whatever to do with not having claws.

I ran across this on a different site:

DECLAWED CATS ARE AFRAID/UNABLE TO JUMP.

What a load of bollocks! (To borrow a slang term from the Brits.) I walked in one day and my Siamese was sitting on top of a six-and-one-half foot grandfathers clock! There was nothing in the area that she could have used as an intermediate step. She had to jump straight on it. Ying Sway (my present day Torti Point Siamese) could literally jump six feet straight up in her younger days. If you ever watch a cat jump onto something you will notice that they don't really use their front feet. They grab and push with their rear feet. The only time I've seen them try to use their front feet is when they try to jump too far. Their rear feet fail to make contact and they try to catch themselves with the front. Even with claws they may or may not be successful.

DECLAWING WILL SHORTEN A CAT'S LIFE.

Now THIS is disheartening; to think that someone shortened the life my beloved Siamese. She was three or four months old when I got her and she had already been declawed. Because of some heartless, ignorant, uncaring bastard she only lived nineteen-and-one-half years. Why if she had only been allowed to keep her claws she would still be alive at age twenty-six! And zealots wonder why people laugh at them…………..

What it boils down to is personal choice. As in most matters of choice you're always going to have a group of zealots screaming “we have the only right answer”. Just ignore them and do your own research. You won't even find a consensus among the vets much less any other group. Talk to your vet, get all of the information you can get and make an informed choice.