I know a lot of cats that have been declawed. Before I was an animal professional, I didn’t think much of it. When I was 10 years old a family friend gave us a large orange female tabby cat named Samantha. She was previously an indoor-only Park Avenue, New York City cat. When she came to our house she became the barn cat. Though she was declawed, it did not seem to slow her down. She could jump four feet in the air and grab a bird in flight and climb the ladder to the hayloft with ease. Dotti, another declawed cat, could hunt mice and climb trees.
A few years ago, I was called into talk to three cats in the same home. Two had already been declawed and one was scheduled for the following day. I was mortified and haunted by what they told me. They were in excruciating pain. It hurt to walk. They felt mutilated, traumatized, and upset with their person. The other cat was so frightened about what would happen to her the next day that she wouldn’t come out from under the bed.
What I learned that day is that declawing a cat means the vets amputate part of the cat’s paw! They cut at the first joint! Cats walk on their toes. I was sick for days and unfortunately I could not convince the owner to refrain from declawing the third cat. It was one of those times that I could not “meet a person where they are at,” nor could I have compassion for her. I felt she was abusive, with awareness, and I found it hard to forgive her for getting the cat declawed. I wanted to take all three cats away from her. I felt she didn’t deserve them.
Declawing cats is cruel. West Hollywood already has already put a ban on declawing cats and Santa Monica is expected to soon give final approval to such a measure. Malibu, Beverly Hills, and San Francisco are also considering declawing bans.
Let’s hear it from the cats that have been declawed:
Dottie: I was declawed because I ripped my person’s favorite chair. I have never been in so much pain. I survived a coyote attack and being in its jaws was nothing to the feeling of when I woke up and noticed that I didn’t have part of my paws. I hated my person so much after that that I ran away and found a new family.
Magic (recently declawed): I couldn’t swallow for weeks after my surgery. It was hard to breathe, I was in so much pain. I didn’t understand it. I need my claws to climb. I think because I don’t have my paws, my body doesn’t work right. I can walk and play, but it feels different. My neck hurts a lot and so does my back. I never thought people could be so mean. I hated my people so much that I kept biting them. They have been talking about giving me away to someone else. But then you came over and told me they didn’t know any better, they didn’t know it was cruel, and you kept telling me how sorry you were for me. That made me feel better, because you understand how terrible it felt and if I were your cat you wouldn’t have declawed me. I wish you had told my people earlier. I am learning to trust and love them now. I don’t bite anymore and they are going to keep me. I am learning to forgive them.
Susan (the cat that was declawed the day after I told her people how the other cats felt being declawed and how scared Susan was): I felt so blessed that you came over and talked us all through it. I hate my person more than anything now. I can’t stand to look at her. I try to throw up on her things as often as I can. I have a good life with my other cat siblings, but I hate my person so much that at times I wish she would stop breathing. Before this happened I loved her more than anything. I would comfort her when she was upset and I would try to be perfect. It didn’t mean anything to her. If I had enough courage I would run away. I feel half a cat without my claws. I don’t know if I could survive outside. I wish I had a different life. I wish I was brave enough to run away.