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Norwich Bulletin - 4/6/2008

The Declaw Debate Rages On In House Bill 5656

On February 29, 2008 a new Bill to outlaw declawing, either onychectomy or tendonectomy, except for therapeutic purposes, was introduced before the Connecticut Committee on Environment in a Public Hearing.

This bill would have banned declawing for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons or the cat owner’s convenience in keeping or handling the cat. There were more than 60 comments and the hearing was well attended by those in cat rescue, people with declawed cats they have adopted who are dealing with the behavior problems many declawed cats exhibit and those in opposition to such a bill.

We await the next step in this bill which Helping Paws supports to become the first State in the nation to be NO Declaw. Only West Hollywood, CA and Norfolk, VA are no declaw cities. However, more than two dozen countries, including smaller third world countries outlaw declawing. America is one of the very few that have not banned declawing and that is mostly because it is big business.

There have been small studies and much anecdotal evidence that declawed cats often become aggressive biters and/or litter box avoiders. The cat cannot speak up and tell us why, but it make sense that because the removal of the claw necessitates removing the toe, that the severed nerve causes “phantom pain” off and on for the rest of the cat’s life.

Ask any Diabetic amputee or someone who has lost a limb as a result of a war injury, and many will tell you that for the rest of their lives they sometimes have pain. Doctors do not know exactly why this occurs, but cats are high functioning animals, and it makes sense that they experience the same symptoms.

Some cats become quieter, play less, and never act out. Others seem to be normal. However, shelter managers indicate that many cats turned into them with “behavior problems” are declawed, therefore, not adoptable and are put down.

Those of us in small cat rescue groups who use foster homes have experienced some of the same problems when we rescue a friendly, declawed cat that has been thrown outside to live on its own. As soon as we see that the cat is declawed, we know why it was abandoned and we have to try and work with the animal to change its behavior or it will never be adopted.

We had one declawed cat that was so aggressive we actually had to beg a friend of mine who had a farm to let him live in the barn as I didn’t want to put a healthy cat down. We have stopped taking in declawed cats completely unless one of our own volunteers happens to find one in the road and then we try and work with the cat to make it adoptable.

We use a very soft litter, not a clay based or clay clumping litter. You have to be very careful that the cat does not become obese as the arthritis will really bother the cat and the tendency not to use the litter will be higher. We may place it in a quiet, adult only home with no other pets as many are animal aggressive. Sometimes, there is nothing that can be done and then the unthinkable alternative ends up being the only answer.

All this because someone wanted to protect their furniture and was too busy to buy the right scratching posts and pads and train their cat to use them. All this because many veterinarians that do declaw cats do NOT inform their clients what declawing really entails and the possible problems that can occur.

Cats are the only domestic animal that we so mutiliate. It is way past time for Connecticut cat owners to realize that it is not right to cause a lifetime of pain for their cats. If they want a declawed cat, there are many on Petfinder that have been relinquished. Talk to the shelter or foster home people and find a cat that does not act out.

Give the cat a chance at a long life in a loving home, but please do not create more declawed cats and contact your Representative to support Bill 5656.

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