There is a strong division in the opinions of veterinarians, animal rights activists, and pet parents regarding the ethicality of declawing cats. As posed beforehand, is declawing really that bad for a cat?
That depends on where a person’s priorities lie.
To some, the maintenance of their personal belongings is greater than the potential pain they would put their animal through. According to the Humane Society of the United States, declawing is often seen as “…a harmless “quick fix” for unwanted scratching.” That is not the case at all. The details of what declawing really is is thoroughly discussed later on in The Truth Behind Declawing.
Most pet owners that choose to declaw their cats often do so to correct or prevent behavioral issues, but the ASPCA notes that it “…should never be used as a behavioral remedy or as a preventative measure” because, as the Humane Society of the United States puts it, it is “…an unnecessary surgery that provides no medical benefit to the cat.”
As far as ‘providing no medical benefit to the cat’ goes, it is true so long as one is referencing the most common reason for declawing: the correction of behavioral issues, such as the unnecessary scratching of people, pets, or furniture. On the other hand, it can be beneficial when real medical issues are concerned, which is covered in The Truth Behind Declawing.
Some pet parents may have tried to provide their beloved furry friends with alternative places to scratch than their brand new couch, or that passed down rocking chair filled with sentimental memories of youth, but with little to no luck; the cat goes straight back to shredding away the family’s pride and joy. To some, the thought alone of an animal destroying any nostalgic (or expensive) object is enough to give them the boot.
Now, I know some of you may be thinking ‘That damn cat is scratching at grandma’s rocking chair! What a prick! If they keep it up, they’re out of here!’ To be fair, cats can be pretty insensitive towards us humans––especially to our beloved material objects… but they’re not doing it to be jerks (…which is debatable.)
No, they are doing it because it is in their nature. Once upon a time, before cats were domesticated and kept around for our enjoyment and funny internet videos, they had to survive on their own. In order to successfully live in the wild, by golly, they used their claws. According to the ASPCA, a cats’ claws are used for both offense and defense; they are used not only to capture their prey but to also defend themselves from other threatening animals.
Some of you might be saying, ‘Yeah, but that was ages ago. Now that we keep them around for internet videos and memes they don’t need to fend for themselves.’ Good point, you are right for the most part; I mean, some cats still live outdoors, but a lot do not. The ASPCA recognizes this and gives us an explanation as to why our furry friends still find an incessant need to show the sofa who is boss: “[Cats tend to scratch surfaces indoors] …to mark their territory, exercise muscles normally used in hunting, relieve stress and remove worn sheaths from their nails.”
Now that the underlying fret about your furry friend trying to purposefully destroy your property has been addressed, here is a quick clip that covers various other concerns with declawing:
For those of you that are still torn between keeping the cat or the unsullied sofa, declawing may seem like the only option. If alternate methods were fully explored and the pet parent is choosing between declawing the cat, or simply getting rid of it, the aforementioned is unquestionably the better course of action. According to the AVMA, “Scientific data do indicate that cats that have destructive scratching behavior are more likely to be euthanized, or more readily relinquished, released, or abandoned.” When a pet owner offers up his or her pet, it may or may not be able to successfully leave the establishment with its life; in fact, in a Literature Review conducted by the AVMA, “72% of cats relinquished to animal shelters are euthanized.”
This astoundingly high percentage can be attributed to the number of kill shelters in the United States. The NPR states that “There are an estimated 14,000 shelters and pet rescue groups in the U.S., taking in nearly 8 million animals each year. Most are small groups, like Paws 4 U … At any given time…the shelter has between 80 and 95 dogs.” These small groups can only afford to house so many animals at a given time, so some must be euthanized. Even those that operate under the ‘no-kill’ slogan must maintain the population of adoptable animals, ridding themselves of “… up to 10 percent of …animals that are unadoptable because of health or behavior.”
When taking this into account others may decide it is just best to drop their furry friend off far from home with the hopes that it will survive on its own. This is not much better; now, instead of offering the cat a place with food and shelter (with the possibility of being euthanized) it has been replaced by an almost certain death sentence: the cat is faced with finding food and shelter as well as avoiding predators.
When speaking in terms of humanity… which is really better? Declawing a cat or aiding to the homeless cat population? (Again, this is up to the pet parent to decide.)
Generally speaking, when these extreme options are compared, most would choose to get the cat declawed—pets tend to be a part of the family, so getting rid of your furry friend might just be unquestionable.
As can be seen, there are plenty of negative alternatives to declawing a cat, as well as some good reasons to, but before jumping the gun and deciding that declawing your cat is the best method to choose it is good to know what exactly you will be putting your furry friend through by choosing this procedure over alternative methods.