Meet Susannah. She was my first cat. And I had her declawed.
I didn’t even know I liked cats until I had Susannah. I got her when I was 20. I didn’t know anything about cats really. My friend and I each adopted a cat at the same time from the same shelter. Her family had always owned cats. We took them to the vet, got them both spayed, vaccinated, de-wormed and declawed. I didn’t even question it. I was told that is what you do to prevent them from scratching furniture. I knew others who declawed their cats as well, so I thought it was completely normal and what one does.
I look back and think how naive I was. I loved her so much, just as much as I love my cats now. I just didn’t think to question the issue of declawing.
I am most disappointed in myself because the shelter we adopted her from was an anti-declawing shelter. Normal adoptions through their shelter require you to sign a contract stating you would not declaw. This should have been a huge red flag. Why would a shelter take such a stand about de-clawing? Sadly I didn’t question it. While volunteering at the shelter I met a woman who was also a volunteer and fostering cats through the shelter.
We adopted directly through her and she said she didn’t mind if we declawed or not. I think I only had her home for a couple days before the vet appointment for the spay/declaw. I don’t even remember taking a look at her paws or the design or the claws. I just automatically declawed her.
I remember picking her up at the Vet and they asked me if I wanted to buy additional pain medication for her. I was stunned by the question. It didn’t even occur to me she would need pain medication. And that if she did need pain medication why would that be optional? Of course I opted for the meds and had to deliver them orally to her for a few days. She came home with a bandage on one paw and not the other. I don’t even remember the reasoning why. But one paw was defiantly more bloody and sore than the other.
That was the point I understood that this was a bigger deal than I realized. Her paws were bloody for several days. But she seemed to be adjusting and healing. At least I thought so. I now know that cats are very good at hiding their pain and the truth is I have no idea how much pain and discomfort she was in.
She went on to live a ‘normal’ life so to speak. This is what I hear most often in support of declawing.
My cat is declawed and lived a long, normal healthy life.
And it is true, some cats seem to recover, adapt and live what we perceive to be a ‘normal’ life. But because your cat has survived this painful, dangerous and inhumane surgery, does not mean it was worth the risk. The reality is many cats are not so lucky.
Scratching is a biological instinct in cats and it serves many purposes including:
- marks territory
- climbing and jumping
- form of exercise
- stretch their muscles
- way to express emotions: excitement or release frustration
- defense and protection against other cats
This post is not to judge or shame anyone. I too declawed my cat that I loved very much. Simply because I was told it was acceptable.
Since then I’ve learned a lot about declawing.
I now live in a country where declawing is illegal and considered inhumane. I have to admit that before getting a cat in my new country I was a bit nervous about the clawing of furniture. As I never lived with a cat that wasn’t declawed I had no idea what to expect. I also have a vintage emerald green velvet sofa that I adore.
But I decided I wanted to live with a cat in my home and that was more important than my sofa. Allowing my cat to be a cat and not mutilate their body. I’m happy to report my cats do not scratch my sofa or anything else in my home. It’s just not an issue like I thought it would be. They have a variety of scratching posts of their own which they love to use throughout the day. I have noticed certain patterns like when I come home and they are excited they go directly to their post and scratch. They do the same when they wake up or after a play session. This DIY scratching vase I made is their favorite. I keep their nails trimmed using the Zen Clippers which also helps prevent unnecessary scratches.
So what can you do?
Please do not declaw your cat and help inform those around you not to declaw. If you have declawed a cat in the past. Don’t be ashamed, its part of learning and growing. Once we know better we can do better.
If you haven’t seen the film Paw Project I highly recommend it. It was heartbreaking to learn that vets not only declaw domestic cats but also big cats such lions and tigers used for commercial purposes.