Saturday, March 5, 2011

WARNING: NOT for the Faint of Heart...

*sigh*  Well, she's at it again.

"Ryker, could I borrow your blog for tomorrow's Blog Hop?"

Puh-LEEZ. It would appear that some humans need to get their OWN blog *hint hint*. (Oh and speaking of blogging... let's chat, shall we, about the last time you provided transcription support for one of my very own insightfully clever posts, hmm?)

Of course, being the incredibly magnanimous, generous and kind-hearted soul that I am, how could I say no? Especially after I heard that she wanted to blog about - (sotto voce) - declawing.   *shudder*

Oh, one caveat: she can have my blog once she's given me time to retreat into a corner, slap my paws over my ears and yowl "LALALALAAAAA" at the top of my lungs so I won't hear any of it. Honestly. It makes my paws hurt just hearing the word "declaw!"

Here you go, Person - just give me a running start.

I wish you guys could have known Ryker in person when he was alive - truly, he was exactly the way he's portrayed, no need for embellishment on my part! All I had to do was channel the little guy's 'tude.

Why do I mention this? Because if I hadn't intervened, lots of people would not have been charmed by this guy's antics. See, his previous owner was advised by her vet to euthanize. So when I see a cat who's had the deck stacked against him like Ryker did, I just can't stay silent.

Just this past Wednesday I met such a cat. I have to warn you, I'll be posting some pics of this guy later on in this post and they're not pretty. So if you have a weak stomach for that kind of thing, just "read it for the articles and not the pictures" and I promise to leave the photos 'til the end!

This guy's name is Tigger and he's just about the sweetest 7 year old tabby cat you could ever wish to meet. He was brought in to the animal adoption agency where I volunteer, Wayside Waifs. (Let me tell you, that was probably the best thing that ever happened to this guy!)

Tigger is on the skin-and-bones side of things, having been brought in as a stray, but that's not the heartbreaking thing about him. You see, Tigger's been declawed.

Now, up until Wednesday night, I have to admit I was rather indifferent about the whole declaw issue. Ryker was declawed, and our new rescue, Maxwell is too. But Ryker's nemesis Allie isn't and neither is the "little Pipsqueak," Faraday. We just couldn't bring ourselves to do such a thing to these kitties! Instead, both wear Soft Paws claw covers.

If you're not familiar with Soft Paws, they're rubberized claw tips that, with the help of a bit of super glue, stick onto the tip of a cat's claw.  They need replacement each time a claw tip is shed - about once a month. 
(Out of curiosity, I tracked my replacement of Allie's Soft Paws, and they ran anywhere from 23 - 34 days. Of course, there were exceptions when she occasionally snagged something, but for the most part they ran a pretty steady month-long cycle.)
Allie loves her Soft Paws mani/pedi and shows them off for the camera at every opportunity - as you can see from the picture below.]

So I guess you could say I was a Declaw Agnostic - I didn't really give it much thought aside from the fact I knew I wasn't going to do it. Then into my life limps this marmalade boy. As I walked up to his kennel, Tigger stood to greet me - but he couldn't stand long. Shifting from one paw to the other, his need for affection outweighed his obvious discomfort.

The movement drew my attention to his paws and I was absolutely shocked to see the deformity. Instead of the normal shape of a cat's paw, what I saw better could be described as paddle-shaped. Not wanting to jump to conclusions and wanting to make sure my rant was an informed one, I inquired about the nature of Tigger's discomfort. Was it perhaps a birth defect? No, it was a declaw. Specifically a bad declaw.

According to the website "in England declawing is termed 'inhumane' and 'unnecessary mutilation.' ... In many European countries it is illegal."

The authors of the site go on to point out that "your cat's claw is not a toenail. It is actually closely adhered to the bone. So closely adhered that to remove the claw, the last bone of your the cat's claw has to be removed. 
Removal of the last digits of the toes drastically alters the conformation of their feet and causes the feet to meet the ground at an unnatural angle that can cause back pain similar to that in humans caused by wearing improper shoes. ...Declawing is not a 'simple', single surgery but ten separate, painful amputations of the third phalanx up to the last joint of each toe."

I asked my vet about declawing and he said that while many veterinarians do their best to minimize the animal's suffering through more precise surgical or laser procedures, many practice what he called "the guillotine method." On behalf of sensitive stomachs everywhere, I won't describe this in detail other than to direct you to the bottom of this post where you'll be able to see such butchery for yourself. I don't use the word butchery lightly. I just don't honestly see how you could call it anything else.  

Organizations that actively oppose declawing include The Cat Fanciers Association, The World Small Animal Veterinary Association, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), The Humane Society of the United States, and The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR). 

As a volunteer who works exclusively toward the adoption of cats, I've repeatedly observed what a veterinarian told me years ago about the ability cats have to mask pain and discomfort.  "Cats are notoriously good at hiding how bad they feel," he said. "Often this translates to a much sicker kitty than its owner thinks, because by the time your cat manifests symptoms, he's seriously ill."

It's an unfortunate truth and one I believe is a primary reason declawing is still practiced: if your cat isn't demonstrably showing any discomfort, it's easy to persuade oneself he's feeling no discomfort. 

After my exposure to Tigger's plight, I am a Declaw Agnostic no more.  I'm a believer: declawing is cruel, unnecessary and - without doubt - inhumane.

And for anyone living in or near Kansas City, won't you please consider giving Tigger a home? Isn't it time this 
sweet guy caught a break? He's suffered enough. All he needs is a warm lap to curl up on and I assure you he'll think he's in Kitty Nirvana. 


Tigger, 3/2/2011
      What a sweet boy! 
 Who could resist such a face?
He lives with constant discomfort.
The #1 reason I oppose declawing, right here:

View Tigger's video here  and you can read more about him (and see another great video) on Ryker's pal Sebastian's blog.


  1. Thank you for posting about this issue, especially when a recent poll indicates that 60% of people support declawing.

    If people really knew what was involved and the amount of pain and suffering it causes, I'm sure they would feel differently!

  2. Mario's mom here. Whoever did that surgery needs to be disbared from ever doing surgey on an animal again. Now, having said that, I am of the older generation. Our first cat was not declawed, a loveable guy who ruined every peice of furniture in the house and lived to be 19. We tried everything from sprays, scratching posts, but that's about all that was available 50+ years ago, and the scratching posts available back then were pretty much carpeting stapled on a post with a platform holding it up. So from then on, we made it a point to adopt only front declawed kitties because I didn't want to do that to a kitty myself. We've had 3 front declawed kitties in 40 years - none have had behavioral issues. Now days there are so many things on the market available to keep a cat happy with scratching, there is no reason to declaw. For what it is worth, Mario was found walking the streets too - no front claws to defend himself. I do not understand how people can declaw now days and then if they do, make sure that cat is not left to roam outside totally defenseless. It's an important issue to keep bringing up because of the butchered job your little kitty has to endure. I do hope some kind person will adopt him - he looks like a sweetie.

  3. thanks for sharing that. i whole heartedly agree that declawing should be illegal. there are so many other ways to keep cats from scratching where you don't want them to.

  4. I don't believe in declawing or tail docking or anything that alters the way a dog or cat was born that is medically unnecessary. It's wrong. And it's mean.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Opie's outraged Mom

  5. Excellent post. We struggle with Bogey's scratching issues but never considered declawing as a solution.


  6. Whoops! I forgot to mention we hopped over to visit and signed on as your newest followers. Would love it if you could do the same at Critter Alley!


  7. My friend, thank you for blogging about this. It makes us so sad to think of this happening to any kitty.

  8. Having worked in a veterinary hospital and having seen the procedure done and watched the cats as they came out of the anesthesia, it's not something I would ever, ever do. There is no piece of furniture I own that's more important to me than the other heartbeats in our home.

    My standard response when it comes to declawing: I refuse to mutilate my pet for my convenience.

  9. Thanks for writing about this. I can't believe vets are still mutilating cats like this :-(

    Thanks for the follow, by the way. I am now following you back.

    Headbonks and purrrrrrs from Avalon Lion.

  10. Thank you all so much for your comments! Person went over to Wayside this morning and did a real nice video for him to help with his adoption. Hopefully some kind soul will want to make the rest of his life a very happy one!

  11. UPDATE: Tigger was ADOPTED this last Friday!!!


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