Cat Declawing: While Still Legal In Some Places, It Shouldn’t Be

As Debate Continues, Lawmakers Are Making Their Stance Clear

By Patrick Cullen

While a cat is unlikely to eat your homework like a dog might, both lovable pets come with their own concerns.

For cats, scratching is a behavior that can drive owners crazy, as furniture gets shredded and you receive the occasional swipe from your feline friend. While realistically this is only a minor inconvenience, the result of animal instincts that can be managed, some cat owners jump to an extreme that should never be considered: Cat declawing.

While it is a fix for the bothersome scratching, it’s foremost an inhumane, damaging procedure. As the debate rages on and owners continue to do as they please, law makers in some cities in the United States have begun to take matters out of the hands of owners by making the surgery illegal. Even before these cities started to take action, Europe made cat declawing illegal. In Canada, however, cat declawing is still legal.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association opposes declawing.

While still existent throughout Canada, fortunately, cat declawing has decreased over the years and is now not as common as it once was. This may be because it’s become increasingly difficult to find a vet willing to do the procedure, as many have become familiar with the glaring ethical concerns. Back in March, cat declawing was publicly denounced by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, which hopefully got the ball rolling on at least considering some laws against the practice. While all of this is progress toward eliminating cat declawing completely, until it is made illegal, it us up to the public to work to stop cat owners from going down that road. Education and awareness is key.

No one is denying that cat scratching can be annoying but removing a cat’s claws is a cruel overreaction. It gets rid of the problem but at what cost? In an attempt to properly rebrand the procedure so that owners considering the act cannot plead ignorance, some veterinarians have started calling the surgery “partial digit amputation” which, in layman’s terms, means that they’ll be taking off the ends of their patient’s fingers. While obviously painful, this robs cats of their evolved means of defense, renders them unable to carry out a natural, healthy behavior that is important to their well-being and can even lead to more aggressive behaviors and a regression in litter-box training. While the problem of scratching might be solved, the procedure gives way to a bevy of issues that are worse for both the owner and his/her animal.

Nail trimming should be considered

Instead of declawing, per PETA, owners with scratch-happy cats should consider trimming their pet’s nails regularly, buying multiple scratching posts to give their cat a place to scratch that won’t harm couches and rugs, and, coming as no surprise, training. Training is part of owning a cat or a dog or any pet. Owners can encourage the scratching of posts by using catnip and can discourage cats from scratching furniture by shouting when it happens as cats hate loud noises. If noise doesn’t work, owners can try a water spray bottle.

Physical force should never be used.

It’s important that cat owners across Canada, where cat declawing is still an option, and in the cities in the US where it’s still allowed, are made aware of the alternatives and the reasons why cat declawing is considered to be mutilation. We must all do our part in spreading the word until lawmakers catch up.

Scratch on, kitty!