Difference in attitude between British and some American cat owners

by Barbara



Recently I've read two completely different opinions (reflecting different attitudes) on cats and their claws, the first is from a US mom of two who is arguing back at criticism because she intends to have the family kitten declawed at the same time as he is neutered. She says things like

“I believe it’s the owner's right to choose” and “I think the lack of claws in a cat is a more pleasant cat for me and my kids.”

The other is from a wise mother, grandmother and longtime volunteer coordinator of the local branch of a nationwide non-kill cat rescue in England who really knows her stuff. She speaks of a cat in her care, “Smokey is 8yr old and has a heart murmur but it isn't severe and doesn't cause her any problems, she can be unpredictable so needs an experienced cat owning home with no children. She is a stunning cat I would have her myself if it wasn't for grandkids. She is a lasher but left alone and once she knows you she is fine.”

Notice that the cat being a lasher (i.e she unexpectedly lashes out at people) is accepted without argument and allowances are made for her “if left alone and once she knows you she is fine”. No panicking about the grandkids being scratched, just plain acceptance that Smokey wouldn’t fit into a family with children.

Contrast this with “I think the lack of claws in a cat is a more pleasant cat for me and my kids.” More pleasant for her and her kids, maybe a nice soft, living breathing toy, that can’t fight back, for the kids’ entertainment, and chances are the kitten would have grown into a placid cat with no intention of using his claws destructively anyway! But anyway how can a cat, being a cat, as cats are made and have been for thousands, nay more likely millions, of years be made “more pleasant” by a procedure which robs him of vital parts of his paws and means that he will never again walk as he should and will affect him mentally and physically for the rest of his life and quite likely cause him severe pain both at the time of the amputations and in years to come as he gets older and heavier?

Here also are a couple of comments from English friends of the volunteer coordinator “I would have her like a shot. I also have a lasher but now she is fine and hides when we have visitors. She is just beautiful” Notice again, no criticism of the cat, and this lady also has a “lasher” again totally accepted and a solution found that didn’t include surgery!

And finally here’s a comment from a lady who has fostered Smokey while she has been awaiting adoption

“She has settled down a lot in the time she has been with me. Now she trusts me she will sometimes run to me for a little fuss. She grumbles to let me know when she's had enough so she rarely lashes out at me these days. She loves sitting on her perch in the garden and watching the world go by, especially when the sun is shining. Roll on summer!”

Do you see the kindness and understanding given to that little cat? You can feel the compassion of those three ladies. But, oh dear me, the mom of two’s comments make me feel so sad and worried for that poor little soul that she “owns”

And the good news is……Smokey has a new forever home to go to tomorrow, she AND her lashing claws!


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Difference in attitude between British and some American cat owners

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Mar 11, 2012 It's not an American thing so much as a STUPID American thing. NEW
by: Chance

A lot of people are insanely stupid about pets. American culture does tend to lend itself to 'get it the way you want it, satisfaction guaranteed' as a prevailing attitude, and that is what leads to people who insist on adopting a cat into a household with small grabby children (all small kids tend to be grabby about animals -- they want to hug and pet them, but they don't know how to be gentle yet, so they can scare or hurt the animal in the process), and then thinking it's the cat's fault for being high-strung when they're being stalked by the sproglets.

A cat is a obligate carnivore, a hunting animal. Domestic cats are usually content to let their people do their hunting for food, but they still want to chase, pounce, and scratch/bite/gnaw on things for play. That's why a variety of fun toys for them is so important to their happiness. It's also why you can either have a happy, well-adjusted cat, or you can have grabby small children who aren't taught to treat the animal well, but you can't have both. If you're unwilling to forbid your children from playing with the cat unless they can be patient and kind and know when to let the cat go and be on her own, then you should consider buying a few plushie toys and avoid having a living creature that can feel pain and possesses a startling amount of empathy and intelligence.

In no case should a cat have to undergo surgery that amputates part of each digit on all four paws because a child can't learn not to poke at Kitty when Kitty wants to be left alone. If you can't ensure a child's behavior, and in the younger stages of their lives, you often can't... don't get a cat. Please.

Declawing is not 'humane.' It's an act of mutilation, and the cat cannot consent, nor can she understand why she is enduring the pain of the surgery and recovery, and the subsequent trauma of not being able to do the things that are genetically hardwired into her behavior. It's certainly not an alternative to parental discipline. If your children get scratched too often and aren't harming the car, trim your cat's claws, or use claw caps, or both. Neither of these things makes a cat helpless or mutilates her paws.

Mar 11, 2012 I had to calm down NEW
by: Leah England

Barbara your article was factual and extremely well written as are all your articles however after reading about mom of two and what she feels is best for her damn brats I had to take time out and take a chill pill before I wrote a few unsavoury expletives on Michaels PoC.

It always, always makes me so angry you see just the thought of 2 kids (who lets face it have no intention of having any respect for that kitten otherwise why de-claw the poor little soul?) mauling him or her to death!! Just like this lazy woman whoever she is (do you have the link to the article btw?) being too bone idle to show the kitten how to use a scratching post so lets face it she sure has hell is quite clearly too damn lazy to show her brats the right way to treat a kitten.

It all just makes my blood boil who the hell do these sort of people think they are? As for Tammy whatever your name is instead of coming on here preaching to us, the ones across the pond trying desperately to get this banned why don't you and your cat loving friends get up and do something? After all its very likely happening at a vets near you! Think about it and stop whittering on about generalisation.

Mar 11, 2012 Silly nonsense NEW
by: Anonymous

Methinks it's Tamylock who writes silly nonsense, not you Barbara!

Mar 11, 2012 Cheshire kitten NEW
by: Ruth

Cheshire kitten how I wish all American cats had caretakers like you as yours are obviously true cat lovers who know how important neutering is and also how much cats need their claws.
Too many Americans and Canadians either don't know how cruel declawing is or don't care.
The mom of two does know exactly how her kitten will suffer but still means to go ahead and pay a vet to cripple him for life.
The only way to stop people like that is to get declawing banned, but we are up against the vets who make a lot of money out of doing it.
It's dreadful that declawing, which is a criminal offence in many countries now is acceptable in the USA and Canada.
BTW your website looks good !

Mar 11, 2012 There are good people in the US too NEW
by: Barbara

Oh yes Cheshire Kitten there are certainly some good and kind people in the US who hate declawing as much as anyone, there are people campaigning over there to have declawing banned and I believe in the end they will win as more and more people get the massage that it IS amputating their toes and it IS NOT just a manicure. Your humans have it right, neutering is beneficial to cats, taking away their toe ends is not. You say it so simply, "We learn where to sharpen and where to keep our claws in." and that's it in a nutshell, cats are intelligent and they can easily learn.

Thank you to everyone for their comments, even Tamylock who thinks my article is silly nonsense.

Barbara avatar

Mar 11, 2012 Living with claws in America NEW
by: Cheshire Kitten

You are right that cats in the U.S. are too often treated exactly as you have all described here.

However, some of us have humans who are more like you. My humans spay and neuter and leave the rest of us intact as we should be. We learn where to sharpen and where to keep our claws in. My human always answers comments about declawing with a quiet statement, "That is amputating their toes."

This is a great website and I'm going to link to it from my blog http://cheshireloveskarma.wordpress.com

Mar 09, 2012 Good one Barbara NEW
by: OJ

You hit the nail on the head there Barbara!
In the UK the cats welfare is the first consideration.
Not so in the USA where they are posessions to a lot of people and if it suits their owner to declaw them that's what happens.
There are a lot of people like the mom of two who even though they know it's major surgery for the cat they don't care.
It's disgusting that vets declaw kittens at the time of neutering after advertising they do so to encourage it.
I don't know what Tanylock is getting at, tell the people I met were all the same? It doesn't make sense to me. What silly nonsense in the American press? I've seen no silly nonsense nor sensible stuff either in the press about the abuse of cats by declawing.
Declawing is black and white, it's wrong to take cats claws ever at all, there is no grey area.

Mar 09, 2012 To tamylock NEW
by: Real cat lover

I'd say this blog took a lot of thinking about and is far from silly and that ALL cats need claws not just yours!

Mar 09, 2012 Poor little kitten NEW
by: Jane A

Yes what a difference between many Americans and their convenience declawing and all the British and their understanding and care about where a cat is homed.
That mom sounds stupid to me,she must know declawed cats tend to bite.I pity that poor little soul with a future of being mauled about by her kids who no doubt follow her example that it's all about what they want.
Yes sadly he's highly likely to end in a rescue centre with thousands of other mutilated unwanted cats.

Tamylock if you think Americans are horrified by declawing then why does it go on?
You say you don't know anyone who would declaw a cat,but then you only know cat lovers.
Why aren't all those cat lovers trying to get declawing banned?
Cat lovers love all cats not only their own.
What is the point in saying it doesn't happen when it does happen,it happens every day God sends in North America.
Put into google vets who declaw and see the long list.
Declawing won't go away on its own so no amount of denying it happens will help the cause at all!

Mar 09, 2012 You are so right NEW
by: Mrs M

It's hardly nonsense Tammylock to point out the difference between real cat lovers and those who should not be allowed within a mile of any cat.
In fact I think it's a very good article and totally shows that difference.
Kittens are being declawed all the time along with neutering/spaying and a lot of Americans still think that's OK.
Well it isn't OK,it's downright wrong and needs to stop.
Thank you Barbara for your continuing battle to bring that about.
I hope Smokey is happy in her new home and I pray that kitten gets a reprieve to keep his finger ends or gets another home where he is loved as he is.

Mar 09, 2012 GREAT article NEW
by: Rose

Another great article Barbara showing up the selfish cruel people who have kittens declawed for their own convenience.
Such a contrast to Smokey being understood and homed with the person to understand her moods.

Tamylock I don't see any generization in the words "some American cat owners" and if you think most Americans don't declaw you need to think again and look at the number of vets advertising cheap packages encouraging it!
Bury your head if you like but we won't do that and it's writers like Barbara who show up those who do just that and allow the cruelty to continue.

Mar 09, 2012 To Tamylock NEW
by: Ruth

You may notice it says SOME American cat owners, which is not generalising, it's telling it as it is.
There are still many Americans and Canadians who badly need educating about the cruelty of declawing. EACH and EVERY cat has the right to keep his or her claws.
I know for a fact the mom of two is a genuine case of selfish ignorance because along with others I tried my hardest to persuade her to change her mind about the mutilation of her kitten.
She was told exactly what the surgery is and shown pictures but still thinks it's acceptable to make HER and her kids lives pleasant.
I'd say a LOT of thought has gone into this article by the writer of it who incidentally has saved a fair amount of claws by her well researched and truthful articles.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Mar 09, 2012 Don't Generalize NEW
by: tamylock

Many Americans are horrified by declawing. I don't know anyone who would declaw a cat, but then I only know cat lovers.

My cats go outdoors since my yard and neighborhood are safe and it is more natural.

My cats need their claws.

I live in Norwich for two years while I was at University. Shall I tell everyone that the people I met were all the same? THat is just silly and you sound like the nonsense I have to hear about in the American press. They love to make things black and white since it beats thinking.

Mar 09, 2012 good, but sad article NEW
by: leanne

when i think of the cats we've had here that when they first arrive they have lashed out with both claws and teeth, all through fear and being upset. i'm so pleased we in britain dont declaw, in fact until ruth and barbara first told me about it some time ago now i'd never heard of such a thing. i have cats of my own that have come in as rescues for one reason or another and they've ended up staying with me. i could NEVER even imagine mutilating them to maybe save my furniture, admittedly my furniture is'nt even worth saving, however, my cats would not be put through such a barbaric and certainly unnecessary 'operation' whatever furniture i had. i also have a grand-daughter who i adore, but, as i was brought up to respect animals, so is she. they are not there as toys to be chased and picked up willy-nilly as some child see's fit. so if your children/grandchildren are taught this from an early age a kitten/cat would never need part of his feet to be removed so same child did'nt get scratched. it makes my blood boil that this kitten is going to have to be put through this to make this womans (and her kids) life happier and more pleasant. maybe she should get herself a bloody ornament instead, it will look pretty, not mess the place up and certainly not scratch her or her kids.

Mar 09, 2012 It makes me sick NEW
by: Edward

Your right Barbara man the difference in the countries.
Theres Smokey going to get a home that understands her and theres that poor little kitten going to get his toes axed off just cos the mom thinks its more pleasant for her and her kids.
Not very pleasant for that kitten and people like that rotten woman shouldnt be able to have cats.
It makes me sick man.

Mar 09, 2012 Brilliant! NEW
by: Maggie

A simply brilliant article, Barbara. I agree with every word you said! At the cat centre that I'm volunteering at, the longest resident is a big tabby and white boy called Lincoln. He's absolutely beautiful, but if you get too close, he'll snap at you, and try to bite you. His information card doesn't read that Linc will need to be 'de-toothed', or that he might have to be euthanised due to 'aggression', the centre accept Linc for who he is, and his information card simply says that he'll need a firm owner, with no young children, who is willing to tell him when enough is enough. Linc has one inconvenient quality, but that's just who he is. Should he be mutilated so that his little peculiarity is no longer inconvenient to his human carer? Absolutely not! Who ever adopts Lincoln will have to accept that this is how Linc is, and that he'll need to learn that he doesn't need to bite, because from my observations, his biting is not aggression, it's a defensive gesture. And once he's settled into a home, he'll let his guard down a bit, and learn to trust.

Can someone please tell me why some American cat owners automatically jump to the conclusion that the only way to change a cat's unwanted behaviour is by force? If a cat scratches the furniture, instead of declawing him, why not go to the effort to teach the cat not to scratch the furniture, and to instead scratch the cat pole? Why is it that people will spend months training their dogs to sit pretty, spin in a circle, shake, roll over, but they can't even spend a day trying to teach their cat the behaviour they want?

Mar 09, 2012 True NEW
by: Ruth

Brilliant comparison in attitudes Babz.
Yes it's all about love and acceptance, if you love a person you accept them as they are, so it should be the same with an animal.
Just like us they have different temperaments.
Our way of looking at a cat like Smokey is to find the right home for her, with people who accept her as she is.
No doubt in the USA or Canada she'd have been declawed long ago and her lashing would have changed to biting and she'd be sitting unadoptable in a cage in a Rescue Shelter........or dead.
The USA mom of two's poor little kitten is more than likely to end up the same way. How cruel she is paying her vet to turn her kitten into a soft toy for her kids.
The chances are they will treat that kitten roughly and let's face it, the mom isn't going to stop them as she knows full well what declawing means yet is still going ahead.
So she obviously isn't concerned about the kitten's welfare.
So, that kitten will endure whatever the kids please to do to him until one day he will turn around and bite one of them.
What an outcry then 'You BAD cat'
Off to the Shelter he will go!
Another cat's life ruined by the ignorance and selfishness of that mom and the corrupt vet who amputated his toe ends for 'the comfort' of that mom and kids.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

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