Due to the risk of becoming somewhat ‘unpopular’ with the animal activist community… I couldn’t help but blog a little about my thoughts on the aim to formally ban the declawing of cats.
Some may call it an extreme leap or an unfair comparison, but still – in the back of my mind, I can’t help but see a parallel with a formal ‘banning’ of services for pets, such as declawing, with those who are trying to ‘ban’ abortions. (And yes, I know that right about now I’m also about to make myself really unpopular with ‘Right to Life’ groups!)
Ultimately, bans take away choice. I am a Canadian. I am a free person under the law. I abide the law. I have a brain. I have a life. I work and I pay taxes. I contribute to society and am responsible for myself and my family – including a child and a pet. Therefore, I would rightly assume that I am qualified to make choices for both my own body and the family for which I’m responsible. All that said, I don’t feel that anyone has the right to tell me what I can or cannot do to or with my body. And I certainly wouldn’t feel superior or egotistical enough to think I had the right to tell anyone else what they can and cannot do with theirs.
My own body aside, as a parent, I’ve made decisions for my child (who I love dearly) on topics such as health matters, education, discipline, nutrition and even circumcision. Perhaps some parents might disagree with my style of parenting, while others might either agree or not even have an opinion. However, the opinions of others are not my concern. My child is loved, nourished, happy, polite and educated. And I am content with the decisions I make for him until he is old enough to make his own decisions.
We may love our pets like children, but ultimately, they are pets, not people. They are owned and always will be…well, unless they ever evolve to the degree to which they can take over the world. Hmmmm… But I digress…as pet owners, we are responsible for our pets and are individually accountable for any decisions made on their behalf, as we see fit.
I think that if a vet doesn’t want to perform a specific service, for whatever reason, then that’s fine. That is their right and their choice as individuals, business owners and animal care providers. However, being told what they can and cannot do just isn’t right. Vets who chose to perform services, such as declawing, are providing the option of a service – and whether people choose or choose not to partake of that service (such as a declaw), that is their right, choice and business.
I understand that those who support a ban on declawing feel that because pets cannot speak for themselves, they need to be their voice. Similarly, ‘Right to Life’ activists want to be a voice for the fetus. I wish to thank them all for doing their part to educate me on their point of view. I always appreciate hearing both sides of an argument before forming my own opinon.
So in regards to the issue of declawing, I have heard what is being said (ie. a painful and/or unnecessary procedure for the cat, as well as the potential long-term effects). However, given some situations, I believe a declaw can be a better option than the alternative: such as when pet owners choose to have a pet put down for being aggressive with their claws, giving the pet away (where it may end up with a owner who doesn’t care for their needs properly) or just putting the cat outside a lot, where any number of terrible things could happen.
I say all this from experience as a cat owner. I had my cat for many years (with claws) before my son was born. She is strictly an indoor cat who has always had toys, a scratching post available, and her claws were regularly trimmed. However, she was still a bit of a ‘clawer’ and often, an unpredictable one. You could be petting her one minute – with her purring and happy – and then the next minute your arm would be scratched, bloody, and locked in a death-grip with her claws. (And yes, I’m well aware that, as animals, some cats are just like that!)
However, when my son was born, ‘just like that’ doesn’t cut it with a small child around. And while he has always been taught to be gentle with the cat, the decision to have her declawed for his protection was made. For as much as our cat was babied and loved, if she had scratched my son’s arm to ribbons, she would have to go.
So, the option to declaw wasn’t a decision entered into lightly. I spoke with different vets and researched the different methods of declaw and alternatives, such as SoftPaws. In the end, I chose the option of a laser declaw – which at the time was a much more expensive option. However, the process was faster, her quicks were immediately cauterized, the recovery time was faster, and the incident of post surgical complications, reduced. Only her front claws were removed. Her back ones remained intact, on the off-chance she ever managed to get outside. For with back claws, she could still climb a tree and protect herself.
Our cat had excellent medical/procedural care, appropriate pain meds and excellent post-op care. And to this date, 6 years later, she is still a happy, spoiled, healthy cat. I don’t feel that she suffers from any residual pain. How do I know this? Well, I can’t say for sure, but she is relaxed, happy and shows none of the characteristic signs of pain from declaw that I researched: she has continued to use her litter box, she has not resorted to other methods of injury any different than from before her declaw, nor does she walk with an altered gait.
When she was declawed, there were, of course, people who did not agree with my decision. There were vets who did not perform declaws. But ultimately, the decision to declaw was my own choice, as it should be.
At the end of the day, banning is a slippery slope and ultimately, takes away choice. Education provides people with information on which to form opinions and make choices. So, don’t ban – educate. And let people and businesses make their own decisions.