For some, raising children may be one of the most fulfilling events that could happen in life. To create, or adopt, a child is an amazing achievement; it fills any new parent with joy, excitement, and sometimes pure fear and confusion. The shining eyes and innocent smile of a baby would melt anyone’s heart. That is, until the crying starts. Or the vomiting. With this comes the desperation for anyone to calm the child as swiftly as possible, but to no avail.
Sounds like a good time.
Now, for those of us that don’t look so kindly on that fresh baby smell—we look towards devoting our love towards something else that will love us back unconditionally…unlike a cold-hearted ex. For a fraction of the responsibility, those that still want a long-term commitment can still become a parent—of a pet, that is.
Yes, instead of nurturing a baby, pet parents can still get the satisfaction of raising something all while opting out of the rebellious teenage years a child would gladly provide.
That is the route I chose, as have many other pet parents; my boyfriend and I are pet parents of three.
The oldest, Audrey, is a six-year-old tortoiseshell American Shorthair; she tends to keep to herself.
Cali, a four-year-old calico American Shorthair, is the clown of the group; there is never a dull moment with her. She enjoys getting into the catnip and ripping through the house in the middle of the night. Not to mention, it is a guarantee to be woken up in the morning with sloppy kisses… on our earlobes.
Lastly, the baby of the group is Morello, a two-year-old white and black American Shorthair; she needs as much attention as she does air—if not more. Due to this trait, she does not get along well with her siblings.
Now, as stated before, owning a pet is a big responsibility, but owning three? Things are bound to get hairy. As often as siblings may bicker, the same can be said between cats, or any other pets for that matter. As briefly stated before, Morello was bitten by the green-eyed monster—if she sees the other cats getting any form of affection she gets jealous and will retaliate immediately. Her acting out includes biting, scratching, and overall aggression. It tends to be a daily problem. Not only does the scratching lead to injury amongst the other cats, but Morello will go out of her way to scratch furniture to mark territory as well—which is obviously problematic.
It then falls into my hands as a pet owner to address the issue. All three cats have their claws, which is both good and bad in this case. When Morello acts up, the other cats can defend themselves. Although this may be true, and can act as a deterrent amongst the three, the issue still lies with the unnecessary clawing of furniture. The easiest and quickest route would be to just rid them of their claws by declawing—it’s a guaranteeable solution to both problems. Be that as it may, it is also my responsibility as a pet parent to consider a few questions: does this temporary problem need a permanent solution, or is there something more I can do?
I concluded that I would not be declawing any of my cats despite the behavioral problems. Not only is it not worth it to make the cats undergo unnecessary pain for my benefit, but I can also take the situation into my own hands. I can try alternatives such as plastic nail caps or even just going straight to the problem: conquering Morello’s jerk attitude through training. Not to mention, if I were to declaw one cat, I would need to declaw all so the other two wouldn’t have the ability to scratch now defenseless Morello… and that would get pricey!
There are other questions I, as well as other pet parents, must consider when debating declawing: will their personalities change post-surgery? Are there any other downsides to declawing them?
Outside Input: Experiences with Declawed Cats
Being that all three of my cats are fully clawed—as they will stay, and having limited experiences with declawed cats, I have gone to three classmates that have declawed cats. I addressed some general questions about their personal experiences with their declawed cat(s) as well as questions that pet parents who are considering declawing must consider:
When you got your cat was it already declawed? If not, why did you get it declawed?
Olivia—My first cat I owned, Sophie, I got when I was 4 or 5 and
my mom said she declawed her because she was an inside cat and
I was little. The second cat I got, Izzy, was from my Papa’s
farm, so we declawed her after about 2 months. She bullied the
older cat, Sophie, and she had no defense mechanism so it was
Robert—When we got our cat Willow it was not already declawed.
We got her declawed on her front two paws because she was destroying some items around the home, as well as hurting some people by scratching and drawing blood.
Sarah—My parents declawed our first cat which I consider her to be the family cat. I brought home my cat Bella and told my parents I would absolutely not allow her to be declawed. I trained her and built her a cat tower and she never had any issues.
Did any new behavioral issues arise after declawing?
Olivia—No, she was young, and when she first came home she limped sometimes, but I have not found any change in her behavior… she usually has no need to use her claws anymore because we put Sophie down a couple months ago because of old age. Now whenever Izzy is mad she’ll bite I guess, but mostly she’s treated as a queen so usually she does not have a temper… yes, I’m obsessed with my cat child.
Robert—No behavioral issues arose after she was declawed.
Sarah—My parents always felt that declawing was something you had to do because of cats they have owned in the past that have torn up furniture. I never felt my cat Ezra had a huge clawing issue that needed to be fixed, but I guess yes after she was declawed she no longer had the ability to claw on anything.
After declawing your cat, were there any differences in behavior or physical well-being?
Olivia—Nope, still follows me around 24/7, sleeps with me, and snuggles about every second I am home. But sometimes I wonder if she even remembers, because she was so young; maybe if she was an adult and then you had it done it may have a different effect.
Robert—After she was declawed she did not seem to change in behavior or physically in any way except she may have become less rowdy if anything.
Sarah—Ezra just lost a lot of her loving and affectionate side of her personality. She was more distant. She is also an indoor outdoor cat, so it was always concerning for me to know she would go outside and not have her claws to help defend herself. She has gotten in a few fights but none have been bad thankfully.
Do you regret declawing your cat?
Olivia—No, I feel like if we hadn’t declawed her, she would’ve hurt my other cat at the time, Sophie.
Robert—I do not regret having our cat declawed I do not think it has changed her if any at all. She still to this day is very playful and a relaxed cat in our home.
Sarah—Yes, but it was not my choice. Cats are just like dogs, they can be trained to not claw on things. Providing your cat with proper training, patience, claw posts, cat towers, and they will learn to not claw on things they shouldn’t.
What is your opinion on declawing cats?
Olivia—Honestly I never knew how bad it was to declaw cats until my last cat, Izzy, already had it done. Once I found out that it was like cutting off the first part of our fingers, it extremely alarmed me. It’s one of those things where I hate what I did, but it had to be done and depending on the situation I might do it in the future.
Robert—When it comes to declawing I am not entirely against it. I believe some people end up declawing their cats for a good reason sometimes while other times they have no good reason at all.
Sarah—I do not agree with declawing, it is an unnecessary procedure that causes cats discomfort and sometimes personality changes.
As can be seen between the three, there were no major physical complications after the procedures; however, in one instance, there was a change in the cat’s personality. It is understandable why a pet parent would feel so harshly against having a cat go from loving to distant because of a surgery. How common is this unfortunate change, and is it a risk worth taking? That is for you, a pet parent, to decide.