02 January 2015

Cats and Declawing

On Facebook, there is a new "OMG it's horrible" photo floating around about declawing. It's popping up in groups and on many cat people's pages.  It is the latest in a string of warnings about declawing.

Sergei -- the poster cat for a bad declawing
I get it. In most cases, declawing is not the best option or even a good option. In the hands of a so-so vet, it can leave the cat with physical problems. I have one such declawed cat.  It can leave some cats with mental problems. I have another such declawed cat.  I know the problems, better than most of the people that post these photos.

But here's the question -- is a cat better off dead or declawed?

Story #1: I saw a cat at a shelter. The cat was on the list to be killed. The only way to adopt the cat was to get my landlord to sign off on it, but he would only do it if the cat was declawed. I was in college, could not afford to break a lease, and find a new place, nor would the shelter hold the cat long enough for me to move. So, I borrowed money and he was declawed. He lived, without any negative signs from it, for another 12 years. Would it really, truly been better to let him die? 

Story #2: An older lady has an older cat which she adores. The lady develops a heart condition and is put on blood thinners. A serious cut requires immediate medical care -- a deep cut may require hospital care. The cat can and does accidentally scratch the lady occasionally. The lady and her family are told that the cat needs to be rehomed because the lady could be seriously harmed. The family decides to declaw the cat so that the cat can stay with the lady and she can have her companion. Would it really, truly be better for all to remove an 8+ yr old cat to an unknown fate and leave the older lady alone?

Story #3: A cat catches a claw in something and in the process of freeing herself, breaks her toe. The toe heals, but at a strange angle so that the claw now grows into the side of the next toe. The vet removes that claw and the claw next to it to create better balance. Would it really, truly be better to let the cat die of some infection from the ingrowing claw? 

All three stories are true.
All three stories would end with the cat being dead if declawing was made illegal. (Remember, many calls for banning declawing make no exceptions even for medical reasons.)
None of these three stories are ever considered by folks calling for banning all declawing.

People like to view declawing as a simple black and white issue. And that's fine -- it really makes like so much easier.  Just understand that those three cats above would die in a simple black and white world.

My world is a much messier grey world....