I look at declawing a cat the same way I see pinning a dog’s ears up or removing the tail: unnecessary, pain, and aesthetic in a hegemonic and outdated sense. But mainly, selfish.
Not only is declawing banned in twenty-two countries, but Humane Societies across the globe have an agreement to not declaw as a necessity in adopting a cat. It involves removing the end bone of each toe of the cat, similar to removing the end knuckle on a human hand. And unless there is a cancerous nail bed tumor, it serves no purpose to the cats themselves.
So why did you do it? I’m sure you are wondering. Pets are reflections of their owners. Good training will save your furniture and carpets for the most part, but the odd cat scratches on my couch are not of concern to me.
When I brought my first little kitten home from a stranded barn, a tabby cat that I named Rasputin, I told my vet that I absolutely did not want him declawed. Neutering and shots only.
Days turned into weeks of scratching and training and scratching and training. I blew my paycheque on scratch posts of all sorts, toys and treats to reward him for good behaviour, antiscratch spray, sticky furniture tape, and even those plastic claw covers. I kept his nails trimmed but it didn’t stop him. He’ll grow out of it, I told myself.
The day his neutering approached I realized something: he was born and raised for the first few weeks of his life outdoors where he needed his claws. And the majority of his scratching was onto my skin when playing.
Cats live an average of 15 years, making me approximately 35 when I will still have him. I feared the thought of bringing a child into my home with a playful cat that doesn’t understand not to scratch. It breaks my heart to see adults pushing to give away their cats or abandoning them simply because they did not think ahead and take a responsible route, and I did not want to be one of them.
When the time came to neuter Rasputin, I told my vet, with a heavy heart, that I would like my cat declawed as well. Overnight, I felt so much guilt that I spent hours on the computer reading reassuring propaganda that he will be okay. I was surprised to see that Rasputin didn’t seem to notice or care that he had been declawed, but instead curious about his missing testicles.
The next kitten I adopted from a hoarder home, was so grateful to be loved and cared for and fed. She does occasionally tear my carpet and chair but rarely my hands, and mainly keeps to her posts with the encouragement of a spray bottle. With a full heart of love for my two kitties, a ruined chair is nothing of concern.
I am incredibly grateful that I could leave Anastasia with all her nails and still feel guilty about Rasputin at times. But when I look at them, at the decisions I’ve made and why, I believe I did the right thing.