The beautiful hardwood on the inside of our front door is marred by long scratches. The wooden frame is even worse, with deep gouges going almost up to the brass door knob. The scratches were made by a cat that clearly had not been declawed. The damage was not done by any cat of mine.
In 1989 the cat who moved there with us was Guinevere. The seal point Siamese never had the chance to claw anything in this house because I had her declawed in 1974, when she was 7 months old. Before the howls of protest start about how cruel I was, there wasn’t a lot of information out there about alternatives to what is, indeed, a very severe operation.
The surgery came after the lovely Jenny got me evicted from our furnished apartment. She used her scratching posts, but when I wasn’t looking she clawed and shredded the backs of the couch and upholstered chairs. Getting rid of her, as the landlord suggested, was never an option for me.
Guinevere lived a long and happy life, but I thought of her when the American Veterinary Medical Association recently announced an “amended policy” on the declawing of domestic cats. It strengthens the wording of its previous position. Here are the highlights:
“Declawing should remain an option of last resort for veterinarians and pet owners.”
Declawing or onychectomy is major surgery. In fact, “onychectomy is an amputation,” the association says, and should only be considered when multiple alternatives have tried and failed. “Declawing may be necessary to keep pets together with their families or to prevent euthanasia.”
And yes, cats are turned into shelters because they are clawing upholstered and wooden furniture.
Cats with sharp claws may be a health risk to infection-prone owners who bleed easily, including elderly people with thin skin and people with diabetes or immune system problems.