Declawing: Who decides who cuts what by law?

September 24, 2009

catpawI am struck by the disconnect between the legislative agendas of some very vocal animal advocates: They want to force everyone to surgically remove the reproductive organs of all dogs and cats, and at the same time, they want to allow no one to surgically remove the claws of all cats.

What’s in common with these mandates? They are driven by well-meaning beliefs and strong emotion, but they don’t pass the sniff test when you look closely.

The advocates believe, despite evidence to the contrary and peer-reviewed science showing that surgical altering is not a wholly benign procedure, that forced spay-neuter is completely beneficial and will end the supply of pets in need of rehoming.

The advocates believe, despite evidence to the contrary and science showing that a well-done declawing with post-operative pain control is no worse than other surgeries they do not condemn, that declawing  is  the cause of behavior problems that lead to abandonment and difficulty in rehoming.

And yet, they want to force everyone to follow their unfounded beliefs, by law.

I do not choose to declaw my cats and most of my dogs and cats are spayed or neutered, and I believe that’s probably the right answer for most people and most pets. But not all people and all pets,  which is why I’m strongly opposed to such sweeping legislative mandates — especially since the claims these laws are based on simply don’t stand up to scrutiny.

That last point is why I’m pointing you now to the VIN News Service article on the declawing controversy by Jennifer Fiala. It may well be the best article on the issue I’ve ever read. Why? Because instead of just parroting advocates for declawing bans or veterinary trade groups arguably looking to preserve business for their members, she went back to the author of the peer-reviewed study the no-declaw forces constantly quote — and found out that he believed they were using his work out of context:

[Declaw ban advocate Dr. Jennifer Conrad] argues that studies show that among relinquished cats, more declawed cats exhibit litter box avoidance compared to cats that expressed the same type of behavior with their claws intact. She points to studies by Dr. Gary Patronek, a researcher of onychectomy and its relationship to feline behavior, as having produced evidence that declaws are bad. A Google search of Patronek’s name paired with “declaw” brings up 1,800 results, with the initial majority of sites linking his work to broad, anti-declaw statements.

Yet Patronek, vice president of animal welfare and protection at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, when contacted by the VIN News Service, had no idea that his work provides fuel for the anti-declaw movement. In fact, he says statements extrapolated from his studies, such as “… declawed cats were at an increased risk of relinquishment,” have been used out of context. With the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy estimating that 25 percent of all cats in America are declawed, he’d expect to see more clinical problems and relinquishment than what’s been reported subjectively, if some of the sweeping claims were true.

“People cherry pick data to see what they want to see,” Patronek says. “I never declaw my own cat, and I wouldn’t do it if I was in practice again. But if you were asking me if I can make some kind of unequivocal statement that declaw is bad in a large population, I can’t do that. No one can answer that question, and if they can, I haven’t seen the data.”

Read the rest, including the common-sense view of the San Francisco SPCA on this contentious issue.

Public policy based on emotion and sound bites is never a good idea. Kudos to Jennifer Fiala and VIN News Service for cutting through the noise and spin to examine an issue on its true merits. This is the kind of journalism that’s all too rare these days.

Filed under: pets, connected — Gina Spadafori @ 7:14 am

93 Comments »

  1. I have always felt that declawing a cat is not a surgery that anyone should undertake lightly. My very first cat was declawed and recovery very very badly from it. Once she finally did recover from her surgery she was fine in all respects, but even now remembering her trying to walk on very painful feet breaks my heart. That said, I do believe that if it is well done and the pain is managed (my cat had actual stitches in her feet and no pain meds, circa 1985) then the surgery can be a godsend to those who have cats that they would have to give up because of behavior. I’ve none aggressive cats that attacked people who could have used it, they were beloved family pets but had to be locked up when any visitors came. It’s not a surgery that I think should be done carte blanche, but I certainly think it should always be an option.

    Comment by Alison Brendel — September 24, 2009 @ 7:34 am

  2. One of the things that aggravates me the most over this issue is the constant drumbeat that declawed cats have all these terrible behavior problems. I adopted a declawed rescue cat, and he was perfectly fine. In fact, he was one of the sweetest, calmest, best-behaved cats I’ve ever owned. And he lived to be quite old, too.

    Now, I don’t like declawing and wouldn’t do it to a cat of mine. But this irresponsible pile-on about the horrors of declawing on a cat’s psyche stigmatize cats who are in the shelter or a rescue group who have already been declawed. I think this does more harm to cats than declawing does, especially given that cats make up the majority of animals killed in shelters for lack of a home.

    Of course, if it were TRUE, then I’d say we need to be honest about it and try to deal with it. But without solid data linking declawing to behavior problems and personality changes, this particular bit of propaganda is hurting cats, not helping them.

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 24, 2009 @ 8:35 am

  3. I have four cats – my ten year old is declawed – the other three are not. Pande’s declaw was done very well and he recovered very quickly. We were very careful with him after the surgery, he had pain meds and we made sure to use newspaper in the litter box until his feet were all healed. He was about 9 months old when he was declawed. Pande is a very large cat and he was very rough and would play very rough and scratch the other cats. We decided the best thing to do was have him declawed. He has always used the litter box with no problem and doesn’t have any other behavorial problems because of the declawing. He is a very happy and loving cat. He doesn’t act like his claws are missing. All of my cats are indoor cats and do not go outside except on the patio and only when my husband and I are with them. My other three cats are younger and have not been declawed. I don’t know if I would ever have another cat declawed or not – I guess it would depend on the cat and the situation. BUT I DO KNOW THAT I WANT TO BE THE ONE TO MAKE THE CHOICE NOT HAVE IT MANDATED TO ME BY LAW…..It seems like these petty kinds of laws are getting completely out of hand, because you have people who think that they know what’s best for everyone so let’s make a law and force it down everyone’s throat.

    Comment by Deb — September 24, 2009 @ 8:43 am

  4. Why not get together a spay/neuter clinic to stop some of these fanatics from reproducing? I would happily donate time and money to reduce the numbers of people who want to dictate surgery for people’s animals, or other people’s religious beliefs, or even what someone can put in their grocery cart!

    Comment by Maria Shanley — September 24, 2009 @ 9:39 am

  5. In 1977 – while I was a student – I got a cat and had her front declawed. This WAY predated the current controversy on the subject. The main thing back then was that vets were following one of two pocedures for a declaw – either they surgically excised the claw with a scalpel, or they essentially lopped off the end of the cat’s toe with a guillotine-style nail trimmer. Those “in the know” understood that the surgical excison was the better opton, and I made sure that was how my cat was done.

    About a year later, I was required to do a one-quarter internship, and the only person I could find who would agree to care for her for me until I was able to keep her again did so under the provisio that I have her back feet declawed as well.

    She recovered fine from both surgeries. As mentioned above, I scrupulously followed the post-operative instructions and once she was healed, she was pretty much back to normal. She NEVER had a litter box problem in her life. Her temperament was so sweet and outgoing that many of my friends swore she was a dog in disguise and that she was the only cat they had ever liked. She fit NONE of the supposedly “typical” profile of a declawed cat.

    She lived to be 20 years old and I still miss her. If declawing “ruined” her, then I need a new definition of “ruined”.

    Comment by The OTHER Pat — September 24, 2009 @ 9:46 am

  6. The AVMA’s policy on declawing domestic cats states ” Declawing of domestic cats should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing presents a zoonotic risk for its owner” and yet you only have to sit at your computer and do a bit of research and you can come up with many veterinary practice websites actually advertising declawing in packages along with neutering and vaccination, now how does this sit with this so-called policy? How can those attempts have been made with a young kitten?And how much policing of the policy is happening when declawing is being advertised like this? While this is happening and declawing is so readily available some people are always going to take the easy option of declawing rather than put some work into teaching cats to use scratching posts. If education as to the reality of what a cat suffers at declawing doesn’t stop it happening and veterinary surgeons do not stick to the AVMA policy then to me the only recourse is to ban it by law.

    Declawing is already banned as inhumane in much of the enlightened world including England where I live. We don’t have a problem with cats claws, we teach them to use scratching posts, we teach our children to respect cats so they don’t get scratched and we teach our cats to respect our children and not scratch them. Our elderly and immunosuppressed people manage nicely and our furniture is not scratched to bits. The bottom line is if one is unable to cope with a clawed cat then a cat is not the right pet for that person. Declawing is a cosmetic procedure, neutering is common sense and does more towards there being less homeless animals than declawing ever could.

    Comment by Barbara — September 24, 2009 @ 10:03 am

  7. Barbara … READ WHAT I WROTE. READ IT.

    I do not believe in routine declawing, and I do believe that most pets are better off spayed and neutered. That’s my opinion, and I advocate for more people to believe likewise. But I do not want my opinion (or yours) FORCED on others by law.

    What I’m having a problem with is sweeping legal mandates that do not take into account the fact that there is little more than emotion involved here, no science, and that decisions about what surgeries a pet has need to be left in the hands of the pet’s OWNER, in consultation with a veterinarian.

    If declawing keeps a cat from being dumped, then why is that not a legimate surgery for your “greater good” argument? If it’s just as possible to keep pets from breeding by being a responsible owner of an intact pet, then why isn’t that an acceptable option?

    Well?

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 24, 2009 @ 10:17 am

  8. Why is it that virtually every nation in the world is happy to accept that a cat is born with claws, but North Americans are not? Those who lack either the patience or inclination to teach a cat claw manners should not be allowed to adopt one.

    I don’t buy the argument that declawing prevents cats from being dumped at shelters – otherwise why is it possible to adopt an already declawed cat??

    If that’s your line of reasoning, then I say let’s introuce Sharia Laws and amputate the hands of rebellious children & teenagers. This preventative measure would ensure that they cannot use them at a later stage to commit crimes such as murder, robbery and physical assault. It would save some of them ending up in prison wouln’t it?

    I know that you’ll probably consider that last statement ludicrous, but that’s exactly how I view the preemptive declawing of cats. Many North American owners are too selfish and the vets are far too cash greedy to follow AVMA guidelines which state it should be a last resort procedure.

    Gandhi was right when he said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”

    Comment by Michele S. — September 24, 2009 @ 11:03 am

  9. Thanks for this article. I was beginning to feel alone on this. While I personally would never declaw any of my cats, I don’t think legislation is the way to stop declawing. I favor education.

    I was at the SF Animal Welfare Commission meeting last August when this resolution was passed, and have given an account of what happened in my blog. It hasn’t passed, yet, as it needs to go before the Board of Supervisors, so there’s still time to lobby for some common sense on this matter. In my assessment, I don’t believe the ban will be effective, as San Francisco is one relatively small county in the much larger Bay Area, you only need to drive a few miles to find a vet that will declaw your cat. What good is this political grandstanding?

    Comment by Lucky Gutierrez — September 24, 2009 @ 11:09 am

  10. Michele … again, you make my point for me. Good public policy is NOT made by emotional response.

    I am all for a change in attitude towards pre-emptive declawing. Think that’s not possible? Consider how smokers feel ostracized these days — and smoking used to be the very definition of cool. Societal pressure can be very strong.

    But I am NOT for nanny-state laws and their often unintended consequences. What procedures should be done on a pet is a matter for that animal’s owner to decide, in consultation with a veterinarian. You think declawing is abhorent. But that’s because you dislike what it represents, nothing more. Surgery is surgery, and it all hurts. My girl McKenzie was in tons of pain — which we fought with pain meds, big time — after her recent spay/gastropexy, and she was on pain meds for a week. I sincerely doubt she thought that was “good” surgery for her!

    Educate, advocate … but legislate? Sorry, but as a responsible pet-owner I am in a much better position to decide what’s best for my own pet than you are.

    And by the way:

    “Those who lack either the patience or inclination to teach a cat claw manners should not be allowed to adopt one.”

    That’s exactly the kind of holier-than-thou crap that leads directly the the deaths of adoptable pets by turning away good homes. Let’s also drop the judgemental BS. Lots of people who love and care for their pets for LIFE if not exactly in ways that YOU approve of are just as worthy of a pet’s companionship as you are.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 24, 2009 @ 11:10 am

  11. Way to find the controversial topics, Gina! Hope you’re wearing your flame-proof suit on this one!

    Declawing is a very emotional topic, and you’re right, that the research doesn’t support it. A review of the studies done will show a correlation between post-op pain and infection, and having veterinary students doing the surgery. In the studies where it wasn’t done by students, there was no significant post-op problem.

    The same people who whine and fuss about cats being declawed will think that an English Bulldog is “cute”, even though it’s a genetic mess that must always be born C-section and can never breathe easily, ever.

    The things that we do to dogs for our own amusement go far beyond declawing.

    It’s the veterinarian’s job to educate their clients and to help them make the best decision for their pet.

    Mandatory spay/neuter sounds like it will fix the problem, but it unfortunately won’t. It won’t impact the morons that the law is targeting (who let their intact animals get knocked up and poop out pups and kits). If their animal is picked up and they face a fine for not having sterilized the animal– they just won’t go pick it up.

    But they WILL get another dog or cat (probably for free), and do it all over again.

    Also, the correlation between declawed cats and litterbox problems could be owner income. People who can afford declaw surgery probably are also doing it because they have nice furniture. People who place a lot of emphasis on their carpet and furniture are probably more likely to boot a pet than to tolerate it long enough to get help. So, there certainly could be a causal relationship, but we don’t know which cause….

    Thanks, Gina, for taking this one on~!

    Comment by Becky — September 24, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  12. Somewhere along the line, Americans have lost sight of the fact that the domestic cat is an animal that needs its claws. Just as a humans need the ends of our fingers. Call it what you will, get on all the high horses you want about your “right” to declaw “mutilate” your pets, but at the end of the day you are mutilating an animal because you cannot be bothered to train it. You value “things” more than the welfare of a living creature. If common sense and and sheer humanity cannot make you see that what you pro-declawers do is wrong, then it will have to be the law that lays down the rule for you.

    The AVMA is too gutless to police it’s own policy on this as it’s first interest is protecting the bank balances of the vets who offer it as a standard package to naive & lazy pet owners. The AVMA has the power to supercede ALL of your individual City and State laws, but it doesn’t – alas.

    Spaying and neutering is not even in the same galaxy as far as the arguments surrounding declaw go. The pet population is out of control. You cannot train cats not to mate, you can train cats not to claw furniture.

    In the UK, none of our A&E units are overflowing with the immunocompromised, children or the elderly, all torn to bits and dying from cat scratches. Why? Because we respect our animals, we know that cats do not scratch humans without reason, we train our children to respect animals. We also know that cat bites are more prone to infection, and ironically it’s the declawed cat who is more prone to biting.

    I detect something going on with all this fierce opposition to a law making life, mutilation free for millions of cats. I detect a total lack of concern for animal welfare and a huge sack of umbrage from Americans who really can’t handle being told they are wrong. Yes, America, you are WRONG. It is wrong to mutilate animals. Your country is way behind the other 38 countries of the world where declawing is banned. America, you are way down the list in terms of humane treatment of animals, why? because you insist on believing you are right. So you carry on being right, right at the bottom of the list of losers.

    Comment by Everycat — September 24, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

  13. …and to becky above (who clearly has misunderstood the studies she quotes) no, I do not find genetic disasters such as the bulldog “cute”, nor any of the other breeds worshipped by kennel clubs and cat fancies worldwide. Most breeds carry horrendous visible and invisible health problems, again, it’s an industry of greed. The welfare of the animal is ignored. Just like in modern American veterinary medicine.

    Comment by Everycat — September 24, 2009 @ 12:55 pm

  14. Well, that settles it: What you believe is absolutely correct and unchallengeable, and no evidence is necessary. Hey, got any extra tickets for the Creation Museum?

    Once again, thank you for making my point: Public policy is not something that should be decided on the views of the faithful in the absence of any evidence as to efficacy of the proposed legislative mandate.

    You have substituted how you feel about something for any evidence, and then seek to mandate your unfounded beliefs on others. You are also ignoring how society changes. Banning something never works. Changing the culture does.

    What bans do is make the faithful feel even more morally superior than they already do. Nice, I suppose, but it doesn’t mean jack for the pets you purport to be advocating for.

    Again, I am not in favor of routine declawing, and I am of the belief that most dogs and cats should be altered. I don’t think that should be mandated by law, however, because the evidence of efficacy of such an approach is not there, nor has legislation proven to be the best way to effect change.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 24, 2009 @ 1:51 pm

  15. Oh, and, uh … by the way: Speaking of the need to feel morally superior, thanks for advice from your little island that used to rule the world, you know, before the United States did.

    If you actually do want to help animals, you need to bite your tongue and tailor your approach to actually effect change.

    Here’s a hint: Calling American’s “losers” isn’t that approach.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 24, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

  16. Sorry Gina, you are talking to the wrong atheist here sweetheart. I’ll leave Creationism to you and the rest of the bad losers who love to stick their heads in the sand to avoid reality. That’d be you pro-declaw people wouldn’t it now? You know, those fierce folks who get so angry that anyone should call them out for mutilating an animal because they are too lazy to train it?

    Now, you want evidence? Go to the AVMA policy documents,articles and research papers – read them. You will find magical statements , where the AVMA suddenly rewrite statistical theory and proclaim that an incidence of 30% behavioural issues post declaw is not statistically significant. Go to big hitter ethologists, behavioural scientists, naturalists, zoologists, top notch veterinarians such as Prof. Nicholas Dodman (Tufts) and consider their arguments against what you promote. Learned people, not just journalists banking a cheque on the back of a hot button issue.

    What you cannot stand is that someone is standing up to you and your shallow, entertainment based rhetoric, that it’s perfectly ok to mutilate animals because the animal doesn’t matter, personal choice does.

    Yes, I stand up to you. I’ve even provided you with evidence leads above. But still you won’t like it. Which proves my point, this whole issue is nothing about animal welfare, it’s about Americans being unable to admit they are WRONG :)

    Well that’s it then, all you are left is a tragic off target jibe that I’m a creationist, wrong again.

    This is nothing about faith, it is about the ignorant and selfish using bad science to establish their right to mutilate animals in the name of personal choice and profit. Those who shout so loudly for the right to mutilate animals are more akin to the Creationists than I. It’s you who are blind, blind to the plight of the animals you mutilate yet profess to love.

    Land of the free?
    Don’t make me laugh.

    Comment by everycat — September 24, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

  17. Oh Gina, you are so pro-declawing even a blind man could see it.

    The point that people from the UK are trying to make is that the public there have been educated to understand why cats need claws and why it is so cruel to remove them. As a result, no-one there would even have contemplated declawing as an option.

    This is the kind of education that is needed in North America.

    Of course, people are very passionate on this topic – they are trying to stamp out animal cruelty.

    Your comment “Oh, and, uh … by the way: Speaking of the need to feel morally superior, thanks for advice from your little island that used to rule the world, you know, before the United States did.” was very petty. I don’t know if you meant it to be “tongue in cheek”, but it was certainly “foot in mouth”

    Comment by Michele S. — September 24, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

  18. If ALL veterinarians in the United States, would put their money where their mouths are, and live up to the oath they took when they graduated from Veterinary school, to do no harm to their patients and absolutely refuse to declaw cats who have not been given the opportunity to thoroughly explore alternatives to declawing, which can prevent damage to cat owner’s property.

    I have been owned by cats for over 40 years and my furniture has never been an issue. Perhaps it is because I provide them with correct and appropriate scratching posts and cat trees which are sufficiently high for them to use them in the manner for which they are designed. They are also covered with fabric that makes them attractive and I trim their claws regularly. I create interesting and challenging environments so they are not bored. If more people took the time and made the effort to do these things,and learn about feline behavior, understanding their cats, then perhaps declawing would not be the popular and easy fix to destructive problems in the home.

    Far too many veterinarians are all too eager to sell package deals consisting of neutering/spaying along with declawing at a reduced price, and I find it very hard to believe that these very young kittens cannot possibly be considered to be untrainable and being declawed as a “last resort. Heck, they still are at their “first” resort, and can be taught to use alternatives. But these veterinarians go right ahead and chop the last joint off their toes anyway.

    So how can these “healers” be following the AVMA’s stand that declawing should be used only when everything else fails? I find this very disturbing. I am so thankful that my vet refuses to declaw and could care less if she loses a client.

    But what I find most disturbing is that people who are clamoring so vehemently about their right to treat their cats in any way they please, and that government intervention is a horror. Are their rights more important than the life of their pet? Why get a cat in the first place?

    I have lots of friends living in Great Britain, where declawing is banned, and none of them complain about the sad shape of their furniture or carpets. They love their cats far more than their possessions and bring cats into their homes and hearts with full knowledge that the majority of cats come from the factory with 18 toes with claws. Some cats even have more.

    How anyone can subject young kittens or older cats to the pain and agony of this surgery is beyond my understanding, while at the same time claiming to adore their kittens. Many say, “well it will only hurt badly for a few days”.

    Why is it that so many cats who have been declawed end up in shelters due to inappropriate elimination and biting? So many of these healthy cats become virtually unadoptable due to these behaviors and end up being euthanized. I just can’t wrap my head around these facts.

    I adopted a Siamese cat many years ago, who had been front-declawed. She chewed holes in all our lampshades and window shades, would not let anyone touch her feet, and tended to bite when she felt threatened. She was generally a sweet, well tempered cat. It was only years later, when I learned more about some of the possible serious negative behaviors which declawed cats often develop post declawing, that I understood her behavior. We changed to window blinds and different types of shades as we loved her far more than window shades and our household decor.

    Comparing neutering and spaying to declawing is like comparing apples and oranges. Neutering and spaying may help stem the tide of unwanted cats and kittens ending up in shelters lacking sufficient homes in which to place them.Neutering and spaying does not cause behavior problems and render cats unadoptable. Spaying mixed breed kittens and those purebred kittens not in breeding programs with responsible breeders who are improving their lines, is a health benefit for the cat, preventing various cancers and infections.

    There is not one positive medical reason to declaw a cat ( unless there is a deformity in the claw or other medical condition). Declawing is purely a cosmetic procedure for the convenience of cat owners and has no legitimate medical value at all. Alternatives such as soft paws permits a cat to have their claws, while at the same time protecting property. Trimming nails reduces damage and providing cats with the correct and appropriate scratching devices, along with patient training always should be a priority to maiming and possibly crippling a beautiful feline.

    Comment by Jo Singer — September 24, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

  19. Gina, I am not just calling pro-declaw American losers, I am calling pro-declaw Americans – bad losers.

    Better learn to suck that one up Gina.

    America doesn’t rule the world. But it’s ok for you to dream, it’s ok for you to bully wherever you like, other countries, here in your little column or at home with your own animals or family. Just one thing though – bullies need to be able to take what they give out. Remember that.

    38 Countries have banned Onychectomy or severely restricted it, because it is deemed too cruel and inhumane to put a cat through the procedure.

    So why do you need to resort to talk of world domination and empires you never had? Is it because it distracts from the main issue? Remember the issue that your country is going to eventually require a Federal Law to stop it mutilating domestic cats?

    It took a Federal law to stop you mutilating big cats, looks like it’s gonna take the same to stop you crippling domestic cats too.

    Must be hard being so stubborn and deluded Gina. Must be hard to lose so badly :(

    Comment by everycat — September 24, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

  20. Gina, I am not just calling pro-declaw American losers, I am calling pro-declaw Americans – bad losers.

    Better learn to suck that one up Gina.

    So, everycat, what you’re saying is–you have zero interest in influencing the opinions of any Americans in the direction you claim to believe is correct? Right? You’d prefer that all us awful Americans go on being Wrong so that you can go on being morally superior, and the heck with the cats–obviously.

    Comment by Lis — September 24, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

  21. So based on the arguments that declawing is mutilation – wouldn’t the same hold true for spaying and neutering – I mean we are removing organs from the cat that they were born with just for our convenience so they won’t multiply. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just teach them to practice safe sex and not have babies…. As I said before I have a cat that has his front feet declawed and he is perfectly fine. He has no behavorial problems – he’s an indoor cat and he has a permanent home. I have three others who have not been declawed and they all get along with no problems. I don’t know if I would ever declaw another cat or not – But it should be my decision, they are my pets. And we are not lazy and not willing to train our cats… As Gina has stated that this issue is a very emotional one…But those of you who are against this need to stop assuming that you are the only ones who are right and that everyone else is lazy and cruel and that what you believe should be dictated to every one. I am the only one who knows MY pets and I will work with my vet to make the decisions I believe to be best for their welfare. I love my cats dearly and they will be with my for life.

    Comment by Deb — September 24, 2009 @ 3:30 pm

  22. Sorry Lis, being obtuse isn’t going to help you here. I am saying that the issue of the welfare of the domestic cat is being forgotten by you pro-declaw people. The issue you all appear so interested in is your right to mutilate your cats. Not the welfare of the cats.

    So it’s you who is saying to heck with the cats!

    Not me :)

    Comment by everycat — September 24, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

  23. Another comprehension fail, everycat. (And by the way: If you were really interested in standing up for what you believe in, you’d use your real name. Anonymous trolls get little respect on Teh Interwebs.)

    First mistake: I’m not in favor of pre-emptive declawing of kittens. I’m not in favor of delawing as a first attempt to correct problem behavior. What I’m saying that is if “pain” and “mutilation” are your fixations, then you should not be advocating for spay-neuter, but rather for pet-lovers working to prevent pregnancy through the “barrier method” — leash, fence and closed door.

    Second mistake: I don’t have to suck up anything. My point — which you utterly missed — was that if you want to change things here on this side of the Atlantic, calling Americans “losers” is not an effective technique.

    No one here is saying or has ever said “to heck with cats.” We have them, and we love them. With claws and without. And frankly what others countries do has no bearing here. After all, some countries stone women for not wearing burkas. While I’m sure some people in the United States could be found who think that’s a great idea, I’m not thinking it’s a law we should get behind.

    What I’m saying is that there is no evidence beyond the near-religious belief you hold that declawing is the problem you say it is. Surgery is surgery — it all hurts. The point is: Is there a greater good? You believe there is not, but the article cited again and again in support of your view is quoted out of context according to the author, who says his research does not support what you think it does.

    You think spay-neuter helps pets and so it’s worth the pain and the risk to an individual pet. Everyone knows someone who declawed and kept a cat for life, lovingly and happily. That cat stayed out of a shelter, which means it opened up space for another cat. Is that not the “greater good” standard you hold up to justify the multilation of dogs and cats who have their reproductive organs surgically removed?

    My point is twofold:

    1) Public policy should not be made on religious belief, and that is exactly what we have when people come in and talk about how “cruel” declawing is but will act as if a spay is done by the magic sprinkling of fairy dust and the wave of a magic wand.

    2) Medical decisions should be made by the person who loves and cares for the animal — the owner, who should consult a medical expert, a veterinarian. The government has no business dictating how I care for my pet.

    Now … take your arrogant ass off this blog.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 24, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

  24. Michele … Teh Interwebs are a wonderful thing. So is a library. You can go back 20 years of my writings and I promise you that you will not find one word in favor of declawing except as a last resort.

    And Jo, the Veterinary Oath is as such:

    “Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

    I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

    I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.”

    The AVMA is a trade group, not a regulatory agency. That seems to also be a confusing issue.

    And thank you all for proving, once again, why I am unwilling to allow zealots to make decisions for me and other caring pet-owners, based on nothing but their religious-style fervor for their own beliefs.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 24, 2009 @ 4:16 pm

  25. Comment by everycat — September 24, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

    Now, you want evidence? Go to the AVMA policy documents,articles and research papers – read them. You will find magical statements , where the AVMA suddenly rewrite statistical theory and proclaim that an incidence of 30% behavioural issues post declaw is not statistically significant.

    Gina provided a specific cite.

    Where’s yours? (Hint: “Lots of people believe . . . . . ” doesn’t count.
    )

    Comment by The OTHER Pat — September 24, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  26. Agreed. My goodness, what if we had PETA making all of our laws? We wouldn’t be able to be in proximity of an animal

    Comment by Alex V. — September 24, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

  27. Your comment “Oh, and, uh … by the way: Speaking of the need to feel morally superior, thanks for advice from your little island that used to rule the world, you know, before the United States did.” was very petty. I don’t know if you meant it to be “tongue in cheek”, but it was certainly “foot in mouth”

    Comment by Michele S. — September 24, 2009

    This was apparently too obscure for you, but in fact the source of it is British: Ricky Gervais said it, in accepting an American Emmy for “The Office.”

    Guess you had to be there. The line brought down the house.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 24, 2009 @ 4:46 pm

  28. First, I am an American, but that has not one thing to do with de-clawing. This debate about de-clawing seemed to get totally out of control and off the subject. You are insulted because the Government may push an anti-declaw law down your throat, you are angry because they may mandate to you what you can or can not do with your pet, your property. You say you love your pet, yet call it your property. What is wrong with that? One thing wrong with it is this – it’s not ok to tell you what to do, BUT it’s ok for you to phyically restrain your pet, and chop off it’s toes? A pet is not your property. A pet is a living, breathing, feeling being, that feels pain, emotion, and bleeds real blood. In the mid-1800’s some people relized that slaves were living, feeling beings and fought hard to ‘free’ slaves from the atrocities that people inflicted on them. Personally, I don’t see a whole lot of difference between slaves and animals when it comes to what we impose on them for our convenience.
    The declawing issue is about what is best for the cat, not the person or the couch. My couch is some wood and cloth put together for me to sit on, it has no feelings of pain. Why is it that a piece of furniture is more important than the living animal? Would you cut off a childs hand because he sliced your leather couch with a knife? Speaking of children, there is a law that says you can’t beat your children. Should we get rid of it and let people do whatever they want to their children? You say that’s different! Why is it different? Children vs animals….hmmmm. They both scream in pain, they both bruise, they both bleed, they can both suffer psychological damage from trauma, they both need to be protected by laws, and they are both our property…. oh!…. children aren’t property? neither is your pet.
    I agree that education is of major importance, the only problem is that as a Country the US is way behind in the education process. As we are in having respect for all living beings. Before you jump all over me for that statement, take a good, long, honest look at the way we live.
    When we as humans took animals into our lives, we became responsible for them. Responsible for their comfort. But that’s not what we do – we de-claw, dock, crop, genetically destroy them. It doesn’t matter where on this planet you are from, we as the human race have lost all sense or respect for other living creatures. That is what this debate should be addressing instead of you being worried about someone telling what you can or can not do.

    Comment by Beth — September 24, 2009 @ 8:27 pm

  29. (1) I’m baaaa-ack. New blog address. I’d say update your link, but alas there is not a link to update.

    (2) “Educate, advocate … but legislate? Sorry”

    Agree 100%. There is something perverse about people who are so insecure about their lifestyle that they must mandate that everyone else conform.

    My Libertarian bent says that only the minimum set of laws necessary and sufficient to maintain order and protect individual rights need exist.

    The standard is not “any and every law that does more good than harm.” For people who prefer that method, I have to ask, why? Why does your goal have to be everyone’s burden? Why don’t you Educate and Advocate instead?

    IMO, the totalitarian approach is dangerous and lazy. And do we really want to burden our police and other law enforcement agencies with kitty’s tootsies and puppy’s privates?

    We need fewer laws, not more. It’d probably take you a year or more of 24/7 speed-reading just to read the laws you are currently subject to, if you even knew where to look.

    I doubt that there’s even one person on the planet who is fully versed in all the laws that they have to follow.

    Comment by Christopher — September 24, 2009 @ 9:56 pm

  30. You go, Gina!!

    I just want to say THANK YOU for an excellent article, and for even-more-excellent responses to idiotic comments!

    I just love the way that people who believe in animal rights have NO understanding of reality. It is all based on fantasy, a Disney-esque view of the natural world. And they hang on to that fantasy view with everything they’ve got! The more facts you present, the more fiercely they cling to the fantasy.

    Comment by Barb — September 24, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

  31. Me thinks you americans protest too much, wake up and smell the coffee as you say, declawing is doomed and you’re all going to have to live with cats and their claws or do the decent thing and buy yourselves a nicely rounded goldfish. The facts are there, you choose to ignore them becuse it suits you, that doesn’t disprove the facts it just shows you are all too arrogant to take advice, to educate yourselves and to admit declawing cats (and dogs) is inhumane, unnecessary & painful and can, and has, cause cats to lose paws, limbs and lives through post op infections and through being rejected once declawed and suffering resulting short and long term effects.

    USA you don’t rule the world, and if you adopt as your mantra’s stupid lines from stupid TV programmes you underline your lack of intelligence.

    Comment by Barbara — September 25, 2009 @ 12:08 am

  32. The reason declawing needs to be banned is simple ! It is because it is too easily available, the proof of that is the neuter/declaw packages pushed by greedy uncaring vets.They don’t adhere to the AVMA policy that declawing should be a last resort!Why don’t the AVMA enforce their policy ?Apparently they can but they don’t want to!
    Someone can take a perfectly healthy kitten and without even providing a scratching post, arrange to have it disabled for life by having it declawed. YES disabled !! Even indoor cats need their claws for walking, grooming and exercising, a declawed cat is a disabled cat ! Many suffer from stress illnesses,most develop arthritis,many suffer behavioural problems and end up unrehomable in Rescue Shelters or turned out on the streets,defenceless without their claws,at the mercy of predators. Going back to indoor cats, they do get outside sometimes and then most definately need their claws, not only for self defence but for escaping other animals.Just recently an indoor cat got out by mistake, the neighbours pit bull was in the garden and chased the cat,the cat ran up a tree.Now if that cat had been declawed he would have been savaged by that dog !
    Speaking as a Veterinary nurse of 40 years experience, I know how cruel declawing is, I know how cats hide their pain.Even before it was illegal here in the UK I never knew one vet who would mutilate a cat in that way. Neuter them YES that’s for the animals own good,declawing is NEVER for the benefit of a cat unless it has serious medical problems with its paws.Many USA people don’t know until it’s too late just what declawing entails,why aren’t children educated about the subject? Most follow the family ‘tradition’ when they are grown up with a home of their own, they don’t give a thought as to what the cat will go through. There are plenty of examples on the internet, someone asks a question about a cat scratching and the ‘declaw it’ replies flow in. They so blithely write off a cats need and its right to the claws it’s born with for a reason !
    I think it’s sad that some Americans value inanimate possessions more than the welfare and happiness of living feeling creatures.It’s not compulsory to own a cat, cats come with claws, we all know that.But whilst declawing is still so easily obtainable, people can have cats adapted to their idea of how a cat should be. When the USA catch up with us in the civilised world and declawing is illegal, we will see then how many really do love cats as they’ll have to accept them with claws and all if they want the pleasure of their company !!!

    Comment by Ruth — September 25, 2009 @ 2:33 am

  33. Comment by Barbara — September 25, 2009 @ 12:08 am

    The facts are there, you choose to ignore them

    And again I say, Gina provided facts, in the form of actual cites to actual articles, as well as an actual interview with the author of one widely-cited article in which he questions the “sweeping claims” of those who would like to see declawing legislatively banned.

    Your turn. Evidence-based facts, please. Cites to actual studies that people can go read for themselves. You know – like – actual science.

    We’re waiting . . . . . . . . . .

    Comment by The OTHER Pat — September 25, 2009 @ 5:39 am

  34. Me thinks you americans protest too much, wake up and smell the coffee as you say, declawing is doomed and you’re all going to have to live with cats and their claws or do the decent thing and buy yourselves a nicely rounded goldfish. The facts are there, you choose to ignore them becuse it suits you, that doesn’t disprove the facts it just shows you are all too arrogant to take advice, to educate yourselves and to admit declawing cats (and dogs) is inhumane, unnecessary & painful and can, and has, cause cats to lose paws, limbs and lives through post op infections and through being rejected once declawed and suffering resulting short and long term effects.

    Gina has provided actual facts, including links to articles, and an interview with the researcher who did the study widely cited in support of your “ban it completely” position. He disagrees with that use of his study; he says the evidence doesn’t support that position.

    You, on the other hand, provide a link to a highly emotive, polemical website, wherein the very first stoy I saw, the owner says their cat died of de-clawing surgery, but the facts this person provides describe a cat dying of unbelievably crappy post-operative care. Or rather, lack of care.

    USA you don’t rule the world,

    Neither do you, anymore.

    Above, you said: declawing is doomed and you’re all going to have to live with cats and their claws or do the decent thing and buy yourselves a nicely rounded goldfish.

    You appear to think that the banning of declawing in other countries will somehow, by osmosis, make it illegal in the US regardless of circumstances. It won’t. To change the law in the US, you have to change American minds. And, in an added complication that always seems to trip up people strongly convinced that Americans are both invincibly provincial and invincibly stupid, to make it illegal everywhere in the US, you need to do that at least fifty-two times: the fifty states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Oh, wait, fifty-four; I forgot Guam and American Samoa.

    And to do that, you’re going to have to actually talk to Americans. Not hurl insults intended to make us recoil in shame and horror from ourselves; talk. And listen.

    This:

    and if you adopt as your mantra’s stupid lines from stupid TV programmes you underline your lack of intelligence.

    won’t cut it. Especially since it demonstrates your unfamiliarity with the basics of conversation amongst people who have both wide and deep knowledge bases; neither Gina nor anyone else “adopted as a mantra” some lines from a tv show; Gina referred to something that a Brit up on his or her pop culture references might have been expected to recognize–some remarks a British actor and director made when winning an award.

    Generally speaking, you don’t move people in your direction by hurling insults at them. Really, truly, you don’t.

    Comment by Lis — September 25, 2009 @ 6:17 am

  35. I am pro-choice. I think abortion, a medical procedure, should be safe and available to every woman who has made a hard decision about her own body. Any conversation she has with her physician in coming to that decision is her business, and hers alone. Judges, preachers, insurance bureaucrats and state legislators need to keep their pointy noses the hell out of it. At the same time, I work for social change that is aimed at making every pregnancy a welcome development, every child wanted and loved and nurtured.

    Therefore, obviously I am a tireless advocate of snatching all the toddlers on the playground and grinding them up for soylent green. Isn’t that the utterly clear logical conclusion at which any reasonable person would arrive based on the paragraph above?

    Come on Gina, the anonymous Brits are here to give us a lesson in logic. They all talk like Hugh Grant, which means that they are smarter than us Yanks. Get with the program, you cat-mutilating loser.

    Later they can explain how their superior British system of nanny-laws has helped pit bulls and other square-headed dogs.

    Comment by H. Houlahan — September 25, 2009 @ 6:21 am

  36. When the USA catch up with us in the civilised world and declawing is illegal, we will see then how many really do love cats as they’ll have to accept them with claws and all if they want the pleasure of their company !!!

    Ruth, I’ve had cats in my home since I was, erm, about thirteen, and lived much of the time in the years before that with my aunt, uncle, and cousins, who had cats.

    Never had a cat declawed. And most of them were indoor cats–keeping them indoors is how we awful Americans cruelly prevent our cats from meeting their natural fate as the prey of fishers (a type of weasel, not a human with a fishing rod), bobcats, coyotes, wolves, alligators, and other predators which the UK either never had or has very efficiently eliminated in its commitment to all things “natural.”

    Which is to say, I’ve managed to provide for happy, healthy cats without declawing, without damaged furniture and without letting them out to fend for themselves in an area where outdoor cats too often become lunch for the local coyotes. Do you even know how to keep a cat happy inside, with access to the outdoors? I doubt it.

    And linking to the same highly emotive but evidence-free site that Barbara links to doesn’t make either that site, or your emoting at us, any more convincing.

    Comment by Lis — September 25, 2009 @ 6:28 am

  37. Talk about childish !! This is about cats claws,their neccessity of them and the cruelty of taking them from them,along with their toe ends too. Can’t you pro declaws get that ?? Cats are born WITH claws,if they didn’t need them they wouldn’t have them ! English people have more class than to hurl insults and no one HAS to prove anything to you. Do some research yourself !!! Talk and listen ? YOU are the ones not listening !!
    People are generally on the defensive when they know they are wrong !!!!
    Are 38 countries wrong ? Are almost 2,000 people INCLUDING 9 USA Veterinarians on a ban declawing petition wrong ? Are Dr Jennifer Conrad and the others who have given years of their lives to this, wrong? Is everyone wrong …except you ????
    I rest my case,I have better things to do than read any more of your biased rubbish so you can pick on my post if you have nothing better to do, but I won’t be reading it !!

    Comment by Ruth — September 25, 2009 @ 6:31 am

  38. We should treat our animals well and humanely, but they are not human and will never be.

    We already have enough crappy laws in place in our country.

    And seriously, enough with the country fighting. Who the hell cares. There are idiots in every country.

    I would never declaw a cat, but it isn’t my place to force that belief on somebody else and make it law. Yeah, there are a lot of arrogant people in this country (and many other ones around the world). We’re trying to help educate and advocate without sounding caustic like many of you are. People shut down and stop listening when you yell at them and tell them that they are stupid and ignorant and horrible for doing what they are doing.

    Yeah, there are a lot of people who shouldn’t own animals. And there are a lot of uneducated people. And there are a lot of people who don’t have any clue what it means to be a responsible pet owner. But I think I’m preaching to the choir at this point.

    And just because laws get put into place doesn’t mean that opinions change. Women have the right to vote, but there are plenty of sexists out there. African-Americans are citizens and have rights, but there are still a lot of racists in this country.

    Comment by Alex V. — September 25, 2009 @ 6:38 am

  39. These long, impassioned comments are still completely missing the point. Do you folks even read the post before you come in here and puke up the same rant again and again?

    No one here is advocating declawing. No one.

    But none of you “stop the mutilation!!!! OMG!!!” commenters have addressed any of the points in the post — or even demonstrated any proof that you read it beyond the word “declaw.”

    My question is this: Why does the very word “declaw” send you into orbit, when you don’t even recognize that an oviohysterectomy is painful abdominal surgery? And why are you anxious to ban one because it’s “cruel” while acting as if the other is done by fairies waiving wands and should be required by law?

    And please note Christie’s point near the top of the comments: The more you demonize declawed cats as prone to behavior problems — especially considering your “evidence” of their behavior problems is not based in anything except what you want to believe and in a study its author says has been misrepresented — the less likely it is that they’ll be rehomed is they land in a shelter.

    You see what you want to see, and you fulfill your own prophecy.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 25, 2009 @ 6:41 am

  40. Comment by Ruth — September 25, 2009 @ 6:31 am

    Cats are born WITH claws, if they didn’t need them they wouldn’t have them!

    Cats are born with uteruses and ovaries and testicles, too – and yet in a prior post you say ” Neuter them YES that’s for the animals own good”.

    Two questions:

    1) Where is the logic in being AGAINST the removal of the claws cats were born with while simultaneously being IN FAVOR OF the removal of the uteruses and ovaries and testicles that cats were born with.

    and

    2) Given that it’s possible for a conscientious pet owner to successfully manage an intact animal, why aren’t you applying the same logic to spay/neuter surgery – i.e. that to spay/neuter an animal is for the “owner’s convenience” since – obviously – a “responsible” owner doesn’t get “lazy” and let surgery substitute for training and management?

    There are a lot of logical disconnects in what the declaw-banning proponents are saying, and that’s one of the points Gina is diligently trying to make here.

    Comment by The OTHER Pat — September 25, 2009 @ 7:02 am

  41. The other point I’m so diligently trying to make: Why should any of these surgeries be dictated by law, one way or the other?

    Animals are individuals, and the best person to make decisions for their care is the person who cares for and about them, working with the family veterinarian.

    Sweeping legislative mandates proposed by people who don’t have the facts behind them and passed by lawmakers who don’t even read the legislation they vote on is not the best way to prescribe care for my pets.

    ***

    Oh, and everycat? None of your increasingly vicious and decreasingly fact-based screeds made it through the spam filter. No one read them except me, and I put them where they belonged — in the rubbish bin. Sorry you are incapable of discussing the actual topic. You’ll find the hater echo chamber you’re looking for on any animal rights forum, I’m sure.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 25, 2009 @ 7:30 am

  42. Talk about childish !! This is about cats claws,their neccessity of them and the cruelty of taking them from them,along with their toe ends too. Can’t you pro declaws get that ??

    Erm. Not actually pro-declaw, Ruth. There are very few cases where I’d consider it justified, and I’ve never had it done myself, and can’t imagine having it done. The issue here is not “should people declaw their cats?” but “is legally banning it really the best course of action?”

    Cats are born WITH claws,if they didn’t need them they wouldn’t have them !

    Cats are born with reproductive organs, too, and at least in this country the people promoting mandatory spay/neuter are often the very same people pushing the banning of declawing. Yet you, Barbara, and “everycat” don’t even respond to that point.

    English people have more class than to hurl insults

    Uh–then you, Barbara, and “everycat” are not English, then? Or maybe you think calling people stupid is not insulting?

    From Barbara: you are all too arrogant to take advice,

    and: you underline your lack of intelligence.

    “everycat” said: So you carry on being right, right at the bottom of the list of losers.

    and: Gina, I am not just calling pro-declaw American losers, I am calling pro-declaw Americans – bad losers.

    and: Better learn to suck that one up Gina.

    And from you, Ruth: When the USA catch up with us in the civilised world

    and: Talk about childish !!

    and: biased rubbish

    Are you and Barbara and “everycat” under the impression that this is what polite discourse sounds like? I know that’s not the general opinion in the UK. Which, frankly, strengthens the suspicion that what you meant to say is, you’re not English.

    and no one HAS to prove anything to you.

    Um, sorry, but yes, actually, if you want someone to change their mind and adopt your viewpoint rather than the one they currently hold, you do in fact need to offer evidence and persuasive argument–and insults and emoting at them aren’t likely to be effective substitutes, unless they are very insecure and you intimidate them.

    Do some research yourself !!!

    Have done. I cannot imagine choosing to declaw any cat of mine, but the fact remains that the horrors your website describes are the consequences of extremely poor post-operative care, including lack of pain management. And going back to the original assumption that you’re, if not English, at least British, it’s something I’ve encountered before, that it seems to be relatively widely accepted that pain management after surgery is an optional extra not encouraged or even discouraged by vets who are inexplicably considered to be “good.”

    Talk and listen ? YOU are the ones not listening !!
    People are generally on the defensive when they know they are wrong !!!!

    Hasn’t been much defensiveness on display here. You’re the one resorting to extraneous capitalization and profligate use of exclamation marks.

    Oh, and a failure to either offer evidence or respond in any way to the evidence offered against your position, including the fact that the author of the chief study most often cited in support of declaw bans disagrees with that use of his work and says the science doesn’t support such a ban.

    Are 38 countries wrong ? Are almost 2,000 people INCLUDING 9 USA Veterinarians on a ban declawing petition wrong ?

    You’ve got an internet petition–and you’ve got fewer than 2000 signers, and only nine American veterinarians? Huh?

    Do you have any clue how small a number nine is in the USA? Nine anything? Nine governors might be mildly impressive. If it were a subject governors might be expected to know and care about. Nine veterinarians? On a veterinary topic? That’s a joke, right?

    Are Dr Jennifer Conrad and the others who have given years of their lives to this, wrong? Is everyone wrong …except you ????

    Don’t know who Jennifer Conrad is. And you haven’t offered evidence or argument, just shouting, insults, and profligate use of punctuation marks.

    I rest my case,I have better things to do than read any more of your biased rubbish so you can pick on my post if you have nothing better to do, but I won’t be reading it !!

    Well, that’s one way of backing out of a discussion where you’ve discovered you have nothing to say.

    Comment by Lis — September 25, 2009 @ 7:44 am

  43. I think there are some slips in logic from the anti-declaw commenters. For one, calling Gina pro-declaw is simply inaccurate. She is in favor of responsible pet-owner choice in the matter and has stated that clearly a number of times. She has cats. They have claws. If she were as pro-declaw as some say, her cats would not have their claws. She doesn’t need anyone to stand up for her, but that charge is just ridiculous.

    Also, if it is just a matter of training a cat to avoid its use of claws in appropriate places, then citing behavioral problems in post-declawed cats as a reason not to declaw doesn’t hold up. Can’t humans be expected to train cats to recover from those behavior problems if cats are such trainable creatures? That argument falls apart.

    From a humanitarian standpoint, banning declawing through legislation has the danger of banning certain groups of humans from the possibility of cat ownership. The population that comes to mind for me is adults with physical and/or mental disabilities and/or families with children with disabilities. In these households, a variety of factors might prevent the training of cats and require protection of people and equipment from potential scratches. Is that appropriate or fair, to rule out a significant segment of society from cat ownership? I’m sure some would say yes, it’s appropriate to deny some people the companionship of a cat if it must be declawed for human safety. And such a position is discriminatory.

    It is offensive to broadly brush people who declaw their cats as lazy or more concerned about furniture than animal welfare. You simply do not know the facts of every human decision in these cases.

    Finally, in case you want to come after me: I owned two cats for 15 years and they were not declawed. They rejected scratching posts and ripped up a chair in my living room and I lived with the consequences, putting a slipcover over the chair.

    Comment by keenwell — September 25, 2009 @ 7:53 am

  44. Comment by Everycat — September 24, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

    Your country is way behind the other 38 countries of the world where declawing is banned.

    I don’t know what the 36 countries are, but if you added up their sizes. I wonder what percentage of the size of the US they would make up?

    I’m not saying “bigger is better”. Rather, I’m saying it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison when at least some of these countries are probably smaller than some of the individual states in America.

    A more apt comparison was brought up by Lis when she wrote “to make it illegal everywhere in the US, you need to do that at least fifty-two times: the fifty states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Oh, wait, fifty-four; I forgot Guam and American Samoa.” So now you have 38 governing entities where it is illegal v.s. 54 where it is not. Sort of puts a different tip on the scales.

    Again, it is not that “bigger is better”. However, because of our size, and states’ autonomy, things are different here in a way that many Europeans fail to really understand. We’re not one big monolithic population that marches in lockstep with anything. And our governing structure is designed to acknowledge and work with that fact.

    Comment by The OTHER Pat — September 25, 2009 @ 8:22 am

  45. “I don’t know what the 36 countries are”

    Oops! That should read “38 countries”.

    One-handed typing strikes again!

    Comment by The OTHER Pat — September 25, 2009 @ 8:23 am

  46. Are 38 countries wrong ? Are almost 2,000 people INCLUDING 9 USA Veterinarians on a ban declawing petition wrong ?

    You’ve got an internet petition—and you’ve got fewer than 2000 signers, and only nine American veterinarians? Huh?

    Do you have any clue how small a number nine is in the USA? Nine anything? Nine governors might be mildly impressive. If it were a subject governors might be expected to know and care about. Nine veterinarians? On a veterinary topic? That’s a joke, right?

    Comment by Lis — September 25, 2009

    I think I could probably get 2,000 people and nine whole veterinarians to sign a petition banning TREES.

    :)

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 25, 2009 @ 8:39 am

  47. No way am I “a Brit up on his or her pop culture references” and wouldn’t pretend to be, pop culture is superficial rubbish, who cares what this actor says or that actor does? Not me, I have no interest in actors or awards nor am I a Brit, I am English.

    But back to the point, this has got more than silly with insults being hurled one way and another, there is no way your “logic” is ever going to convince us that banning declawing isn’t the way to go, you obviously value your rights above your cats. You’ve said you wouldn’t declaw a cat, so you’d turn a blind eye to someone else declawing then? Doesn’t matter if that cat is mutilated as long as it’s not on your conscience eh?

    In this my final post I’d like to address those people who tediously bring up neutering as an argument to deflect attention from declawing. Neutering is a completely different issue to declawing because there is benefit to the cat from neutering. In the case of a female cat it can save her suffering womb cancer or pyometra which is an infection in the uterus, this happens because when the queen comes into heat her progesterone levels remain high for 8-10 weeks and thicken in preparation for pregnancy. If pregnancy doesn’t occur over the course of several heats the lining of the uterus continues to thicken until cysts form within it, these cysts secrete fluid that create ideal conditions for bacteria to grow within the womb, bacteria is introduced via the vulva. This can happen to young queens but the likelihood increases as the cats gets older. Speying removes the womb and so removes the threat of this happening. Tom cats are notorious for marking and staking their territory and for fighting, this can lead to open wounds which can easily pick up infection in outside conditions and it can also lead to feline leukaemia if the fight is with an infected cat, castration removes most of the male territorial instincts and so removes the need to fight.

    What benefits does declawing have for cats?

    Comment by Barbara — September 25, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  48. What benefits does declawing have for cats?

    Comment by Barbara — September 25, 2009

    Yes, this is your final post. :)

    There’s no real evidence besides what you all keep telling yourselves that you’re seeing and hearing that the horrors of post-op behavior problems are real. There is about the same amount and type of evidence that declawing keeps many cats in the homes for life. On both sides, the evidence is anecdotal. The one peer-reviewed study cited by pro-ban advocates is taken out of context, per the author’s own statements.

    All surgery hurts. What must be considered is the eventual gain from the pain — and if there are other ways to fix the problem before cutting.

    These are decisions that need to be made on an individual basis by the person who cares for and about the animal. They are not decisions that should be made by fact-free zealots who want to impose their own illogical word view on others.

    In the beginning of this discussion, I said too many animal advocates behaved as if they were part of a religious cult. You all have proven my point and then some. You believe what you believe, therefore we all must believe what you believe. Why? Because you believe it!

    Wash, rinse, repeat.

    No sale, kids. I am the only one who is capable of making the best decision for the well-being of my pets.

    And by the way, Barbara: As opposed as I know you are to actual peer-based research, you might look at some regarding spay-neuter. It’s not the wholly beneficial procedure you believe it to be.

    But I’m sure mere facts won’t stop you from believing.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 25, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  49. No way am I “a Brit up on his or her pop culture references” and wouldn’t pretend to be, pop culture is superficial rubbish, who cares what this actor says or that actor does? Not me, I have no interest in actors or awards nor am I a Brit, I am English.

    Last time I checked, the United Kingdom included England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. And of those four, England, Scotland, and Wales were all located on the island of Britain. Has that changed? Has England relocated?

    I will say, I’ve heard some interesting things about people who insist on “English” rather than “British”–from my UK friends.

    But back to the point, this has got more than silly with insults being hurled one way and another, there is no way your “logic” is ever going to convince us that banning declawing isn’t the way to go, you obviously value your rights above your cats.

    It’s more a matter of believing that “the government” is not the right level at which to be making medical decisions. That should be between the doctor, and either the patient or the responsible adult human. In medical decisions, details matter. And caring about what’s best for the individual patient, and not what’s best for some other patient, even most other patients, is at the core of making the right decision.

    You’ve said you wouldn’t declaw a cat, so you’d turn a blind eye to someone else declawing then? Doesn’t matter if that cat is mutilated as long as it’s not on your conscience eh?

    In nearly all cases, I would strongly discourage it, and push other alternatives. But not, generally, by attacking the judgment, intelligence, or moral character of the person involved.

    Comment by Lis — September 25, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  50. I keep forgetting to mention:

    The only time in my life — so far, anyway — where I have ever been physically assaulted was over this very issue. I said that although I never advise readers to declaw, I didn’t think it should be ruled out as a last resort if it keeps a cat in a home, and that I didn’t think it should be banned by law.

    The woman I was discussing this with threw her drink in my face.

    Fortunately, it was non-staining. :)

    Yes, safe to say, this is an emotional issue for many. But that doesn’t give them a pass from looking at the facts when considering public policy.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 25, 2009 @ 9:39 am

  51. You haven’t heard of Dr Jennifer Conrad ???? Yet you say you’ve researched declawing !
    QED

    Comment by Edward — September 25, 2009 @ 10:20 am

  52. What? She didn’t just stand up and yell “You lie!”?

    Comment by The OTHER Pat — September 25, 2009 @ 10:22 am

  53. Edward: Dr. Conrad is mentioned in the original post … and the original article cited in the post. Neither of which you appear to have read.

    If you cannot contribute to the discussion beyond adding to the “but declawing has to be banned because I say so” … then back to your hater echo chamber, please.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 25, 2009 @ 10:26 am

  54. :::Thinking of charging commenters for the gratuitous use of extra punctuation!!!!::::

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 25, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  55. Strictly speaking declawing as such isn’t illegal in the UK – it’s illegal for it to be done by anyone other than a vet and it’s considered unethical (something for which a vet can be struck off) for a vet to declaw for non-medical reasons. So presumably AVMA could theoretically do the same.

    I do agree that mandatory spay/neuter opens a whole new Pandora’s box of problems – do we really want cats to follow dogs down the “all pedigree” pathway?

    The UK situation is very different from the US because it’s much less usual here for cats to be indoor only (in fact many shelters won’t adopt to owners who plan to keep their cats indoors). On the one hand that means declawing would make a cat vulnerable to wildlife that a clawed one would easily see off, but on the other it probably reduces problem behaviour (because the cat can flounce off rather than scratching).

    The RSPCA does actually get hate mail about declawing on the basis that the San Francisco SPCA statement is somehow our fault : (

    Comment by Rosemary Rodd — September 25, 2009 @ 11:31 am

  56. Hmmm….there seem to be a lot of posters from the UK here. How’s that Dangerous Dog Act going for you? Yep, that’s one humane law. Kill the dogs because they look like a certain breed. Get off your high horses…

    Comment by doglover — September 25, 2009 @ 11:58 am

  57. Thanks Rosemary. One clarification, though: The AVMA can’t de-vet a vet. They’re a trade group, not a gov’t regulatory agency.

    Veterinarians are licensed by individual states, and disciplinary actions are likewise handled at that level.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 25, 2009 @ 1:04 pm

  58. “I think I could probably get 2,000 people and nine whole veterinarians to sign a petition banning TREES.”

    I’m not a vet – but SIGN ME UP! Those &*%#*$ trees use up tons of perfectly good CO2 that would otherwise go toward warming up our climate.

    I think I’m going to toss out my compost bin and buy a Humvee…

    Comment by Janeen — September 25, 2009 @ 3:59 pm

  59. WOW! WHO ARE these comment-ers who have their claws out against this post!!?

    Comment by VJ — September 25, 2009 @ 4:13 pm

  60. :::Thinking of charging commenters for the gratuitous use of extra punctuation!!!!::::

    Hmmm, British author Terry Pratchett notes that 5 exclamation marks is a sure sign of an unhinged psyche.

    Did anyone get to 5 in the blocked posts?

    :-D

    Comment by JenniferJ — September 25, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

  61. I find it incredibly interesting that some make the connection between “not in favour of legislation” and “pro-declaw”.

    I also find it incredibly sad – what hope does any debate of any animal welfare topic have when this is how quickly it degrades into personal (and county) insults and mud-slinging?

    Personally, I’ve seen the effects of poorly thought-out, hastily enacted legislation when it comes to animals.

    I’ve also seen that our chronically underfunded (and under-trained) Animal Controls don’t have a snowballs chance in hell trying to investigate and prosecute REAL cruelty cases, never mind additional legislation.

    And, just in case you want to inslut me, please do it properly.

    I am Canadian. We hunt, fish, kill seals, eat meat, dock and crop dogs, declaw cats, eat boiled lobster and crabs, euthanize unwanted pets, allow commercial breeding establishments (sorry, we’re not allowed to call them puppy mills), have socialized medicine, have access to abortions (and sex education in schools), allow 2 consenting adults to marry one another irrespective of their genders, and legalized medical marijuana (and decriminalized possession in some areas). Those are some things off the top of my head that other countries haven’t done, in case you run out of ammunition on the declawing topic.

    For me? I’d never declaw a cat, and never have. But I don’t attempt to tell my neighbour how to live their life, as I don’t want them to tell me what I must do with mine.

    Comment by K.B. — September 25, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

  62. “I think I could probably get 2,000 people and nine whole veterinarians to sign a petition banning TREES.”

    dihydrogen monoxide, a very hazardous chemical, kills tens of thousands every year, used widely in industry and can be in almost all food and certainly all seafood

    help ban this dangerous, pervasive chemical!

    http://www.dhmo.org/

    Please please get this……..

    Comment by JenniferJ — September 25, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

  63. BTW, reference to post 62, Penn and Teller got quite a few COLLEGE students to sign a petition to ban that chemical, amongst others

    Gina, how many folks in media who fancy themselves, despite a lack of evidence, as journalists, and instant internet experts could we get signed on do you think? ;-)

    Comment by JenniferJ — September 25, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

  64. JenniferJ – you bad, bad girl you! ROTFLMAO!!!!! (Please note – FIVE exclamation points!)

    Comment by The OTHER Pat — September 25, 2009 @ 6:41 pm

  65. The OTHER Pat

    XD!!!!!

    Comment by JenniferJ — September 25, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

  66. Ha ha Jennifer. ;-) Thanks but no thanks…I’m feeling dehydrated already….

    Comment by doglover — September 25, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

  67. doglover,

    thinking is no fun! You are supposed to hop to it based on the persuasive rhetoric!

    Don’t you know if it’s on the internet it must be true?

    XP

    Comment by JenniferJ — September 25, 2009 @ 9:58 pm

  68. Rosemary is incorrect about the legal status of declawing in the UK. Declawing IS illegal in the UK when performed by a vet for non-therapeutic reasons. Along with ear-cropping and tail docking, it is classed as an “unnecessay mutilation”. DEFRA’s web site confirms this;

    “From 6 April 2007 in England, and 28 March in Wales, the mutilation of animals was banned under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, with certain exemptions set out in the 2007 and the 2008 (Amendment) Regulations. “Mutilation” covers any procedure that involves interference with the sensitive tissues or bone structure of an animal other than for therapeutic purposes (medical treatment).”
    http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/welfare/act/secondary-legis/docking.htm

    DEFRA’s “Consultation on Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats” states that they must be allowed to exhibit normal behaviours i.e., scratching.

    http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/welfare-cats-cop/consultation.pdf

    The RCVS guidelines also states “A veterinary surgeon must not cause any patient to suffer by carrying out any unnecessary mutilation” – see Clause h(i)

    http://www.rcvs.org.uk/Templates/Internal.asp?NodeID=89720&int2ndParentNodeID=89717&int1stParentNodeID=89642

    Aticle 10 of the “European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals” signed by member countries (includig England)also prohibits declawing.

    http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/Treaties/Html/125.htm

    The fact remains that declawing is either banned or illegal in at least 38 countries. Bear in mind too, that it was the refusal of vets in those counties to perform declawing for non-therapeutic reasons which brought about the bans in the first place.

    Why is it that vets in those countries consider it to be a form of cruelty, but vets in North America don’t?

    – Do their vets know something that ours don’t?
    – Are they more perceptive or sensitive towards pain suffered by animals?
    – Do they receive better behavioural education, which in turn makes them better qualified to advise their clients how to handle normal behaviour?

    Why exactly do our vets continue to promote and perform declawing? Is is for the money (estimated to have earned them in excess of 13 Billion Dollars to date*) or because they ar “guilted” into it by clients?

    *HSUS facts and figures on declawing;

    http://www.hsus.org/web-files/PDF/hsp/SOA_3-2005_Chap3.pdf

    Comment by Michele S. — September 26, 2009 @ 4:15 am

  69. You mean “truthiness”?

    This sounds like a job for Stephen Colbert!

    Comment by The OTHER Pat — September 26, 2009 @ 4:16 am

  70. Rosemary’s comment about the difference between the U.K. and the US regarding indoor/outdoor cats reminded me of a Nature program on PBS some years ago. The topic was the impact of U.K. pet cats on indigenous wildlife. Her ost is #55.
    Here’s a link to an article by the American Bird Conservancy on cat predation.
    http://www.njaudubon.org/Portals/10/CatsIndoors/PDF/Predation.pdf
    I find it interesting that the U.K. anti declaw camp seems to find it acceptable apparently to allow pet cats unrestricted predation on indigenous wildlife because it’s cruel to keep the cat indoors? I wonder how the mice, birds and leverets view the situation?
    I am now going to resume sipping hot DHMO in which Camellia sinensis leaves have been steeped. I like to live dangerously and I like my poison with plant toxins, a little cream & honey.

    Comment by Anne T — September 26, 2009 @ 5:32 am

  71. With regard to the comment about cats in the UK being allowed outside having an impact on bird numbers. You may be surprised to learn that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds disagree. Their web site states;

    “Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide. This may be surprising, but many millions of birds die naturally every year, mainly through starvation, disease, or other forms of predation. There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds”

    http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/gardening/unwantedvisitors/cats/birddeclines.asp

    I lived on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus for many years, and was disgusted to find that every year they illegally trap migrating birds for the food and pet trade.

    http://www.conservation.org.cy/birds.htm

    Loss of habitat and food sources (cleared away for farming,housing etc) pollution of our environment. These are all contributing fctors towards the decline or extinction of many species of flora and fauna worlwide. We as humans must take our fair share of the blame as it is us who have caused an imbalance in the eco-system.

    http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/news/story.html?id=d22b16fd-97dd-4b04-9dc8-537935877676&k=62386

    Comment by M. Speirs — September 26, 2009 @ 6:27 am

  72. “You mean “truthiness”?

    This sounds like a job for Stephen Colbert!”

    I always check my “factoids” with care.

    Comment by JenniferJ — September 26, 2009 @ 7:15 am

  73. Why is it that vets in those countries consider it to be a form of cruelty, but vets in North America don’t?

    - Do their vets know something that ours don’t?
    - Are they more perceptive or sensitive towards pain suffered by animals?
    - Do they receive better behavioural education, which in turn makes them better qualified to advise their clients how to handle normal behaviour?

    Are cats in US frequently confined indoors for their own safety anyway, because there are much bigger, badder predators for whom a fully-armed cat would make a nice snack, a dangerous enough environment that many shelters and rescues will not adopt a cat out to someone who plans to allow it outdoors, while in the UK, where all the dangerous wildlife has been eliminated for human convenience, cats are typically allowed to roam freely, secure in the knowledge that their biggest threats are dogs–and confining cats indoors is considered cruel, cruel enough in fact that many cat rescues will not adopt a cat out to someone who plans to confine it indoors?

    In short, are conditions in North America radically different from the British Isles and the rest of Europe, leading directly to different judgments on what’s “best” for cats?

    Comment by Lis — September 26, 2009 @ 7:36 am

  74. You may be surprised to learn that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds disagree.

    Comment by M. Speirs — September 26, 2009

    So what? The policy-setting of groups that rely on membership and donations is driven by what keeps those members and keeps them sending in the money.

    The U.K. has a different cultural belief with regard to the keeping of cats, one that thinks not letting them roam is cruel. Since there’s likely overlap between people who love cats and wild birds, it’s also likely that the wild bird organization won’t rock the status quo. They’re also British themselves, which means they have the same perceptions as their members, right or wrong.

    What is missing, again, is peer-reviewed research underlying any policy statements or decisions.

    Which returns, again, to the central point of my original post: Making laws based on unsupported “beliefs and perceptions” is bad public policy.

    I don’t declaw my cats, so the UK people cheer. I don’t let my cats roam, so the UK people think I’m cruel.

    Frankly, I couldn’t care less. *I* am the best person to decide what is best for the animal in my care. THIS is the point, not what is or is not “bad.”

    None of the “ban declaw” people have done anything to address this point except call me a pro-declaw cat-hater, call Americans stupid and lazy, and call American veterinarians callous and greedy.

    None of you have advanced your point one inch; if anything, you have proved MY point that neither pets nor people are best served by bans brought forward by fact-challenged emotion-driven zealots who believe only THEY can decide how the rest of us can best care for our beloved pets.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 26, 2009 @ 7:39 am

  75. Well since we all are commenting on declawing, let me give you all my experience. You say you felt so bad declawing your cat, that it broke your heart. Well let me give you what I had witnessed. I worked at a Vet’s office as a receptionist. Many people came in to have their feline friends (whom they say the love so much) declawed. I have witnessed these declawing. Has any of you here? I have, and let me tell you it is not a walk in the part and all hunky dorey. I was outside the building having my smoke and I heard this horrible screaming. I am outside looking around for a adult or child in distresss, then I realized….it was coming from inside. I ran inside (as did others run to see) this cat was literally chewing at its own paws screaming in such horrible pain. I cried instantly, freaked out like I have never freaked out before. They all gave it some meds and re-wrapped his paws. Then a while later when coming down off the meds they had gave him before, he did it again. This time it was even more awful. They had to give him meds again, but this time stitch his little paws up because he tore them up. They then put a collar around his kneck so he would not do it again. When going on my breaks, I would go and see him and just sit in a chair and hold him as he looked up at me in such pain and tearful eyes. Yes, tearful. You all feel it should be up to the owners to make this decision. Well I am telling you my experience and I just can’t imagine your little babies sitting there after that horrible amutation surgery and just being joyful and happy. It is cruel and barbaric to do this to our feline friends who are born perfect from their begining of their existance. Who are we to take from them? This was my experience, and I have seen first hand not once but many times this cruel act done to cats. I still have nightmares. Horrifying vivid nightmares of our precious little babies. Don’t declaw, it is not fair.

    Comment by Loca Liisa — September 26, 2009 @ 7:45 am

  76. I also want to add that they never told the owner what had happened. Can you imagine if your little one had a horrible experience and they never had told you either? They are not gonna educate any client with the after effects of this amputational surgery, are they? It is all about everyone worrying about their material things around the house and not taking the time to train their pets or educating ones self about a feline and their behaviors. I made this horrible mistake and I just can’t cry enough. My cat, because of my decidion has now arthritis from declawing. My new Vet informed me that they use their claws for everything including balance. She refuses and will not declaw a cat. So I am blessed to have a wonderful Vet who is kind and loving. I feel if I was only educated I would of never had made my horrible mistake to my littel baby girl Roxy. I love her unconditionally and I can not imagine what she might have been going through on that horrible day what I had done to her. I am filled with such guilt and now that I know that I had a right to make use other means to train my cat, I am very pist off! My Vet should of educated me on declawing surgery! I now know it was only for the buck, to fill her pockets and say fuck it to our feline friends! So this is my experience and I hope I can pass the guilt onto you all who havd declawed your cat! Feel for what I feel for I have seen the after effects, and it is truely horribly sad.

    Comment by Loca Liisa — September 26, 2009 @ 7:55 am

  77. Let me tell you something Gina, it does not matter where you live or what country, cats live everywhere and it is damn right cruel. I am sick of everyone who is for stuff to point fingers. Who gives a fuck, you put this page here and you have given us all the right to comment. We have our right just as you to put our opinions out their or our political findings as well. It does not mean that “you” who are for stuff to pick us apart because we ara against it. If you can’t be respectful and appreciate our views as well, then remove your pieceo of shit “educational” page so we all do not have to comment. I get sick and tired of “one’s” who are for something to bash and try to break and rationalize everything to a fuckin “T”. Us in the United States are very neglagent when it comes to animals. I totally agree with that. Materialistic people piss me off (Oh my god my carpet, Oh my god my furniture, Oh my god my bed…). Train your pets. Take the time to really understand them and their behavioral issues that may need attended too properly. Makes me sick. It really does. I am so glad I have found out the trueth about this amputation of felines. I only thought it was just the nail. I am disgusted in my Vet and any other Vet that feels they understand a cats mind and feel “oh, its okay”. Lets all remove our first digit on all our fingers? Come on, we can all to it and get by normally. No problems at all, right? Wake up Gina, it is all over our world and all countries. Not just the UK. Stop attacking others with our opinions that are against it. Stop trying to rationalize it like it is okay. It is not.

    Comment by Loca Liisa — September 26, 2009 @ 8:04 am

  78. Surgery hurts. The surgery that saved my life hurt like bloody hell.

    Anti-declaw advocates say, “How would YOU like it if YOUR fingers were amputated amputated at the first joint?”

    Well, to be honest, I wouldn’t. But I also wouldn’t choose to have my abdomen sliced open and my reproductive organs cut out. The same people who sob about feline paw mutilation are remarkably mute about how a hysterectomy feels. And many of the same people who demand we legally ban the mutilation of cats by declawing are also demanding we legally force the mutilation of dogs and cats by altering.

    It doesn’t make sense. Pain is pain. I’m against sweeping laws regarding both declawing and altering, even though I do not declaw nor do I recommended it in the vast majority of cases, and even though I do spay-neuter and do recommend it in the vast majority of cases.

    The point is: Surgery isn’t done for the sadistic pleasure of the surgeon. It’s done because there’s a benefit to the procedure.

    There’s a benefit to spaying — and also risks and alternatives And yes, there’s a benefit to declawing — and also risks and alternatives. We get nowhere when we deny the truth. Only by looking at the facts can we develop good public policy.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 26, 2009 @ 8:11 am

  79. If you can’t be respectful and appreciate our views as well, then remove your pieceo of shit “educational” page so we all do not have to comment. I get sick and tired of “one’s” who are for something to bash and try to break and rationalize everything to a fuckin “T”.

    Comment by Loca Liisa — September 26, 2009

    Yes, God forbid that I ask you to back up your opinion with something other than your opinion.

    Liisa, you missed a major point when you dropped in and posted your anonymous rants: This is MY HOUSE.

    And foul-mouthed idiots are not welcome in my house. Find yourself a nice echo chamber. You’re out of here.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 26, 2009 @ 8:18 am

  80. Loca Lisa, what you’re describing is a case of grossly inadequate post-operative pain management, and I’m not surprised that a surgeon indifferent enough not to have bothered with pain management, also didn’t think the cat’s resulting agony was something he or she wanted to ‘fess up on to the owner.

    Secondly, the fact that Gina put up a post about a subject on which you disagree with her, and allows comments, doesn’t mean that you’re somehow entitled to post your comments without any further response from her or anyone else who agrees with her rather than you. You get to comment–and other people, including Gina, get to comment also. It’s called discussion. You should try it sometime.

    Comment by Lis — September 26, 2009 @ 8:24 am

  81. And to return to the subject of your vet’s grossly unprofessional lack of pain management for cats (and I bet dogs, too) who have undergone surgery: when I had my own “spay” surgery, I was on heavy-duty pain relief for a month–tapering off over the course of that time, but, I gotta tell you, those were some darn good drugs, and I needed them, especially in the immediate post-op period.

    Do surgery on an animal, withhold pain relief, point to the resulting agony as evidence that the surgery itself was cruel…you’re not winning any converts here, Loca Lisa.

    Comment by Lis — September 26, 2009 @ 8:28 am

  82. Loca Liisa, you told ONE story. Could have been inadequate pain meds (as pointed out by Lis), could have been a weird reaction to the pain meds (having just had surgery myself, I’m here to tell you firsthand that sometimes a bad reaction to pain meds can be almost worse than the recovery pain itself – and cats don’t always react well to pain relief drugs – morphine being the most extreme example), and it could have been a cat just freaking out at being in a strange place (oh, cats never do THAT, do they?).

    But I also worked as a vet tech in the late 70s at a clinic that routinely did declaws, and I don’t EVER recall a cat coming out of anesthesia after a declaw surgery reacting any differently than a cat coming out of any other kind of surgery. They’re sleepy and wobbly and they fall down a lot until they begin to regain their bearings.

    It’s another anecdotal piece of “evidence”, and you’ll probably find just as many (if not more) stories like mine as like yours.

    Comment by The OTHER Pat — September 26, 2009 @ 10:42 am

  83. I stumbled upon this blog for the first time today and am horrified by the use of “animals are mine” defense of de-clawing. Where do you draw the line? Cats bite. Knock their teeth out? Cats break things when they jump on shelves. Hobble them? Cats shed. Laser hair removal? If I want a cat with Basset hound ears, can I have them surgically attached?

    There are anti-cruelty statutes in all fifty states. The law recognizes animals hold some rights, meager as they are, against their human owners. Prohibition against unnecessary mutilation should be one of them.

    I understand spay/neuter is a tricky deal. There is no question that it is a huge violation of the physical and evolutionary integrity of an animal. However, as humans we must weigh the consequences of unfettered breeding on the overall resources available for cats. Individual cats suffer reproductive intrusion, but sterilization benefits the species as a whole by limiting competition.

    De-clawing cannot withstand the same test. De-clawing offers no physical or psycholgical benefit to the animal who undergoes it nor does it offer any benefit to felis cattus as a whole.

    Comment by Mary — September 26, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

  84. Mary,

    You’ve stumbled in here and apparently saw little more than the word “declaw,” reading into post exactly what you wanted to read. That’s called “cognitive dissonance,” and it’s a pretty big problem for many people.

    In the first place, no one is advocating declawing. No one. Not in the original post and not in any comment since. The point is that no one else is able to make an individual decision for what’s best for my pet than I can with the help of my veterinarian. Individual decisions should be made by pet-owners and veterinarians, not fact-challenged animal activists and legislators who trade votes without even considering what they’re voting on.

    In the second place, declawing can indeed pass the same test you use for spaying/neutering. Countless cats live long and happy lives with people who would not otherwise have (or, in some cases, be able to have) a cat with claws. That means more homes for more cats. Just because you don’t like it and I don’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    The overarching point is that there is a large pool of fact-challenged animal advocates who consider nothing but their own inconsistent and illogical beliefs and are working to force all of us to share those beliefs by law. And they delude themselves by calling one surgery mutilation while acting as if the other is done with the wave of a magic wand.

    And it’s THIS situation that doesn’t pass any test.

    Legal mandates based on nothing more than emotion and because it “feels right”? Wrong. Education, incentives and disincentives to change cultural perceptions and behavior? Right.

    I do not declaw, and I do spay-neuter. But it’s not anyone’s business to tell me what’s best for the animals I love and care for. That’s my job, as a pet-owner.

    It’s also my job as a journalist to help people make those good decisions for their own pets based on the facts. Those decisions don’t happen with ineffective, feel-good legislation that doesn’t absolutely nothing but make animal advocates feel morally superior to the “bad” people they think they’re controlling.

    Since you are new here, I’m going to give you a little insight: We look at issues fairly, honestly and sometimes with no small degree of discomfort. I believe looking at what’s true — not what we want to believe — is the only way to form strategies to help make the world better for animals.

    Pretending spay-neuter doesn’t hurt and is wholly beneficial is supporting a lie. Pretending declawing is only about laziness, convenience and materialism is also supporting a lie.

    You start with the truth, and then and only then can you look for strategies and solutions that will end up with fewer declaws and fewer pets in need of rehoming.

    And that’s the goal we all share.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 26, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

  85. You accuse me of cognitive dissonance and then proceed to flail me for something I didn’t say? Please find my quote stating commentators were advocating de-clawing.

    What I did say was that people were defending de-clawing based on the “animals are mine” belief and you’ve just done it again above. No law (or LAW, as you prefer), should tell you what to do with your animals.

    My neighbor who tethers his dogs 24/7 feels the same way. Ask him and he’ll tell you he loves and cares for his dogs, that he knows what’s best for them. Just like you. He believes chaining his dogs to a tree in the pouring rain is what they need, but the law, (sorry, the LAW), says differently. The LAW says he must provide shelter for his unfortunate animals and I, for one, am glad it does.

    I understand it’s currently the rage to bristle over government intrusion, but it’s dangerous for animals to live and die under totally subjective standards of treatment.
    As I wrote in my earlier post, which you chose to ignore, if there is no prohibition against removing toes, there is no basis for preventing the removal of teeth, tails, ears, vocal chords, you name it. Is there any alteration you would not permit an owner to perform on her animal? If so, how does it differ from de-clawing.

    Comment by Mary — September 26, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

  86. Again I recognize you just stumbled in, but in fact none of us here are “black helicopter” anti-government types. Trust me on this one. Or read more, your choice.

    What I believe is that medical decisions are best made by the person who loves and cares for the pet on an individual basis of what’s best for that pet. The person to make that decision is the owner. Medical decisions shouldn’t be made for pet-owners by fact-challenged animal advocates and legislators who have as much business making medical decisions about our pets as does anyone chose at random. As in, none.

    Your challenge about tethering isn’t a medical matter — it’s a cruelty issue and a public health issue, since there ARE peer-reviewed studies linking chaining with biting. Again, the issue is getting the facts and making good public policy based on the facts, not on what upsets you personally.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 26, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

  87. “Liisa” … spare yourself all the making up of new e-mail addresses. None of your illiterate, insulting and foul-mouthed comments are getting through the spam filter.

    And by the way: Since it’s pretty apparent that you missed all your English classes, I’m guessing you ditched most of your civics classes, too.

    You don’t have “a right to free speech” on someone else’s blog. We don’t feed trolls here.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 26, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

  88. Let me try this again… Is there any medical alteration a person might perform on her pet that you would not approve of? If so, how does it differ from declawing?

    Comment by Mary — September 26, 2009 @ 9:48 pm

  89. Gina

    this is much more concise than Wiki

    http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/io9/2009/04/Troll.jpg

    And does not require understanding or comprehension of more than one written word.

    Here trolly trolly trolly….

    *

    Mary, I have been reading and commenting at Petconnection for about three years. This is about the most even tempered internet pet blog extant. Sometimes we disagree, passionately, but the reason that most of us like this community is that as diverse as we are, EVERYONE here is deeply commited to animal and human welfare.

    Trying to pin anyone down to absolutes here with regards things like declawing won’t work. Gina has said repeatedly in this very thread that she is no fan of declawing. As have others. I am no fan of jumping to a procedure such as declawing without exhausting other options. It’s a last resort option in my mind. But do I want to make it a crime to opt for declawing over euthanasia? No, not ready to go there. That certainly does not make me “pro-declaw” although I’m sure some will disagree.

    The whole, rather spectaculary missed, point is that these things should be discussed and considered in an objective, non-emotional manner. Looking at facts, research and peer reviewed studies rather than soundbites, anectdotes, feelings and visceral emotional reactions.

    Hard to do, sometimes difficult to accept, but a damn good intellectual exercise. And sometimes an eye opening one too. :-)

    Comment by JenniferJ — September 26, 2009 @ 10:30 pm

  90. Mary (re: comment #85)

    There are some ares that have enacted laws against tethering a dog out all the time. Good, right?

    THIS is exactly why I do not agree with more legislation for “animal rights” – the unintended consequences of such laws.

    Let me tell you about my dog – raw-fed, does agility, happy, loves every person he has ever met, is great with other dogs (and some cats), sleeps on my bed at night, regular vet checks, clean teeth, well groomed, nails trimmed… in other words, not abused or neglected in any way.

    But… if I lived in an area with anti-tethering laws, I could be charged. Because yes, I do tether him out for more than 3 hours at a time without access to shelter or food. What a bad dog owner am I!!!!! (bonus points for 5 exclamations, right??)

    Mind you, I’m in the yard with him. However, anti-tethering laws say nothing about that. According to the LAW, my dog is better off in the house, and I’m abusing him by allowing him to be in the un-fenced yard with me.

    The more specific a law gets, the greater the chances are for unintended consequences.

    No to mandatory S/N.
    No to bans on docking and cropping.
    No to bans on declawing.
    No to bans on “debarking”.
    No to bans on commercial breeders.
    No to breed bans.
    No to bans on prong, choke and/or shock collars.

    Where I stand on any of those issues is irrelevant – I still will not support any further legislation, BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WORK.

    Comment by K.B. — September 27, 2009 @ 5:19 am

  91. Let me try this again… Is there any medical alteration a person might perform on her pet that you would not approve of? If so, how does it differ from declawing?

    Comment by Mary — September 26, 2009

    Mary, you’re not getting it. I don’t “approve” of any of the procedures you mentioned. If you hadn’t just parachuted in, you’d know that.

    But I do NOT believe medicals decisions should be made for my beloved pet by fact-challenged animal-rights true believers and vote-trading legislators who don’t even read the bills they vote on much less consider any unintended consequences or indeed much more than where the donations for their next election are coming from.

    Now, you have one more chance to discuss the issue before I decide you really are a troll. Try to get to the root of the issues. Break them down, and look at them. Then … discuss. Parroting the same party line as if it’s the utter truth doesn’t work here.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 27, 2009 @ 7:26 am

  92. Never would I declaw any cat I acquired.

    Some of the rescue groups here will make you sign a paper that you will not declaw the cat if you adopt one from them.

    Comment by Colorado Transplant — September 27, 2009 @ 8:00 pm

  93. Appreciate the discourse. Thanks all.

    Comment by LynnO — November 18, 2009 @ 11:20 am

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