My view on cat declawing is that every cat owner should make her own decision. Declawing a cat is not inhumane. It is a reasonable option for people who want to own a cat and nice furniture.

I don't feel so bad for the pampered indoor cats that get declawed because I know these cats are lucky to live in homes where they are loved.

Many cats are not so lucky.

In 2010, 446 impounded cats were killed in our three local pounds located in Fargo (N.D.), West Fargo (N.D.) and Moorhead (Minn.), according to the pound stats reported by Adopt-A-Pet of Fargo-Moorhead.

I do not feel bad for cats that live in homes without their claws while so many cats are killed in pounds.

Josh and I got a new couch Friday, so now we are facing the question most cat owners ask at some point:

Should we declaw our cats or not?

Josh is all for it, and I'm on the fence so we probably will have Beamer and Scout declawed eventually.

I've written about the pros and cons of declawing a cat before, so I won't repeat myself here.

Instead, I want to share my personal take on this issue because I do believe it is a personal choice for every cat owner. I'm not telling you what to do. I'm just explaining my point of view as a cat owner who loves her cats very much.

Personally, I want to do all I can to teach my cats not to scratch the furniture. If nothing works, then I am 100 percent in favor of declawing them.

So right now we are teaching them they are not allowed on the couch at all (I know, I know. Just hold off on the laughter a bit). Dogs are not allowed on the new couch, so the cats aren't either.

It's not just the actual scratching from cats that damages furniture. It's years of cats “kneading” into the cushions with their claws as the get comfortable and relaxed. It's years of jumping onto the arms and the back of the couch. It's years of wrestling and playing on the couch.

So we're trying a new concept: No cats allowed.

Our cats respond pretty well to a voice correction – “Hey!” or “No!” We use that if they approach the couch, and we also have a water bottle nearby. We haven't had to use it yet. The cats have plenty of other seating options such as an old chair, pet beds and a new, two-level scratching post. Their favorite spot is Ace's dog bed.

To keep my cats entertained, I've been making sure to play with them every day. We play chasing and pouncing games so they have less energy for scratching the couch. I'm also trying to rotate their scratching posts to keep things interesting, and to rotate their toys and randomly put treats and catnip on their appropriate scratching and sleeping places.

And obviously I'm keeping their nails clipped.

When we can't supervise our cats, we put them in our laundry room (their catpartment).We've been doing this for months already because Beamer eats everything in sight, and Scout … well, he poops on rugs 🙂

I really don't believe these attempts will stop them from scratching the couch, but I'll feel better if I give them this chance.

It does help that Scout and Beamer are 6 and 8 years old – not kittens – and they sleep for a good 19 hours per day.

Isn't it inhumane to declaw a cat?

You have to decide what is right for you and your cats. There are always going to be people who tell you it's cruel to declaw a cat. There are always going to be people who believe that declawing an indoor cat is just what you do. Read up on the pros and cons of declawing a cat and discuss it with your cat's vet.

It's never made a whole lot of sense to me how some people can be so against declawing cats but so in favor of spaying and neutering cats.

People will use certain points to argue against declawing, but then they will totally ignore those same points when it comes to spaying/neutering.

Here are the most common examples:

Declawing a cat will cause the cat pain.

Yes, declawing a cat causes pain, but so does spaying/neutering a cat. Any surgery will cause at least some amount of pain for an animal.

Declawing a cat is far less invasive than removing her ovaries and uterus, a procedure most cat owners do not think twice about.

Declawing a cat is convenient for the owner.

Of course it's convenient to own a cat that doesn't destroy property with his claws. It's also convenient to own a sterilized cat that doesn't spray everywhere or go into heat.

Beamer marked in the house right up until the day he was neutered (poor bastard). He will also continue to scratch as long as he has his claws. He's a cat!

Declawing a cat is not necessary.

Declawing a cat is not necessary, but either is sterilizing a cat.

Some people will argue that spaying/neutering is necessary for controlling the cat population. Controlling the cat population is important, but sterilizing cats is not the only way to accomplish this. Cat owners can prevent unsterilized cats from breeding by keeping them indoors and away from other unsterilized cats.

Others will argue that spaying a cat is necessary because it decreases her risk of mammary gland tumors, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. I'm not convinced this is a real reason to spay every female cat.

Removing body parts such as the ovaries is going to eliminate the chance of future cancer to those body parts. But just because a cat has ovaries does not mean she has a high risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Removing a dog's ovaries could actually decrease her lifespan, according to research from the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation. And sterilization can contribute to certain cancers in dogs, according to the department of veterinary clinical sciences at Purdue University.

Ted Kerasote, author of “Merle's Door,” has a book coming out in fall of 2012 called “Why Dogs Die Young,” and it addresses these very issues. I can't wait to read it.

Pet owners need to look at the pros and cons of sterilizing their animals and declawing their cats and make their own decisions. These are personal choices. What is or isn't necessary is debatable.

To declaw or not declaw?

Beamer and Scout destroyed one couch over time. They will likely destroy another.

I'm going to give my cats a week or two with the above “behavior modification” plan and then re-visit the declawing issue. I have made up my mind that I am OK getting them declawed if they don't leave the couch alone.

I love my cats very much. They have a good life.

Scout the gray tabby cat sitting in the living room

Photo by Tawna Whitford

Closeup of creme tabby cat lying on a rug with green eyes - cute!

Photo by Tawna Whitford

 

 

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