Thursday, December 4, 2008

Of Ripped Claws and "Sagging Stomachs" (Reply)

Amby111 Writes: One of the most tragic results of declawing I've witnessed involved a six month old tabby kitten named Cypher. He was adopted from my local "no kill" shelter at the age of eight weeks. His adopter had him declawed and returned him to the shelter several months later for being "too active." Cypher was full of life, playful, and also a biter when he came back to the shelter. He was kept in the basement feral cat room for several weeks before being euthanized for "behavior problems." My feeling is that if the shelter had properly educated the adopter on kitten behavior and perhaps steered her toward an older, less active cat if she wasn't up for dealing with an active kitten, this would not have happened. I also have to wonder if the shelter's liberal adoption process, which doesn't screen adopters for information such as whether or not they intend to declaw, doesn't result in more (traumatized) animals being returned in the long run.

Reply: I agree with you totally that what happened with this kitten was tragic and inexcusable and due, in large part, to him having been declawed. However, I wonder if the shelter adopted Cypher out at 8 weeks as a "one and only" cat?

If so, then I believe that contributed to both, the declawing and his eventual demise in the shelter.

Kittens naturally claw and play bite as part of their development. Unless having another kitten or cat to "roughhouse" with, that behavior will come out on the people or kids in the home.

Too often then, the people either declaw the kitten or dump him/her back in the shelter with the complaint that the kitten is "too aggressive" or too active.

It is up to the shelter to try to educate people (as you wisely suggest) to better choices in adoption -- either TWO kittens or an adult cat.

(And of course, declawing should always be frowned upon. People need to understand that not only is declawing a physical mutilation, but also, and perhaps more importantly, a psychological alteration and trauma, as well. -- A trauma that cannot be reversed.)

Now, in saying people need to be "educated" on animal welfare issues, I realize of course, such ain't easy.

Many people are hard to educate because they don't want to listen to anything. They "want what they want when they want it" and it is very difficult to advise them differently.

Case in point:

Some years back, an 85-year-old woman called us seeking a "little kitten" to adopt.

I of course, tried to advise this senior citizen that a kitten would be a poor choice for her because of the high activity levels of kittens and a solo kitten's tendency to bite and claw their human caregivers.

"Certainly, an adult cat would be far easier and more affectionate and therefore, a much wiser choice!" I said to the woman.

"Oh NO!" the woman said adamantly. "There is no way I would adopt an adult cat!"

"Why not?" I asked her.

Well, I just don't like the way their stomachs SAG after the cats are spayed!"

Obviously, I wanted to say to this person:

"Well, at 85-years of age, I am sure EVERYTHING sags in YOU!"

But, of course I didn't.

Suffice it to say, there are some people who simply can't be educated.

But then, you (hopefully) don't adopt to them either. -- PCA


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