Scientists are Unscientific About Cats

Scientists are Unscientific About Cats

by Michael
(London, UK)

I am very surprised that a lot of scientists are unscientific about cats. What do I mean? There have been studies by scientists about declawing. You can see the "abstracts” (summaries) of these studies by going to Google Scholar. Google Scholar is a great service where a search can be made for scientific or scholarly work on any subject.

When you read these summaries you see a lot of inbuilt bias and subjective thought by people who should, frankly, know better.

person sitting and thinking about cats

The trouble is that when people, no matter how intelligent they are, do research on, or apply their minds to, cats they often do so from the hard wired bias that cats are only animals and we, as humans, are superior. This is a starting point that is automatically subjective and unscientific.

A work of science must start from a neutral stance and in these cases that can only mean treating cats as another species of animal on this planet with their own special skills and characteristics that are different from ours. And further that we are simply a different species of animal.

If you start research from that true fundamental premise you will arrive at completely different conclusions than that which the majority of these scholars have arrived at.

cat sitting in silhouette

Here are some examples:

  • Title of research: Feline Behavior Problems: The Influence of Declawing
  • Authors: Morgan, Melanie; Houpt, Katherine A.

In this work the authors studied what they called cat behavioural “problems” and whether declawing affected behaviour. They referred to the following actions by a cat as “problems”:

  • jumping on counters or tables
  • scratching furniture
  • eating house plants
  • acting aggressively toward other cats
  • stealing food
  • house soiling
  • inappropriate vocalizing
  • acting aggressively toward people
  • chewing fabric
  • hissing at people

Cats jump and if there is a counter it will perhaps jump on it. It is one of their fantastic skills and attributes that we like. The absolute classic is “stealing food”. Cats don’t steal things. Humans steal things. Stealing is a human concept. All of these cat problems are in fact one human problem, which is that a lot of humans don’t like some of the things that cats do. That is the single “problem”. All of these so called cat problems are normal behavioural characteristics for a cat in the circumstances under which the actions were made.

The subjectivity, bias and unscientific nature of the starting point for this research is disappointing. It is no wonder that there is a lot of misinformation out there and why a large section of the public is ill informed. This kind of research also underpins declawing. It creates the concept that cats are animals that should (no must) do as we please and if not they can be modified. Rather than accepting the cat for what she or he is and enjoying her behavior on that basis. It is what makes cats, cats.

I sometimes think that a lot of people would be better off with a high tech Japanese cat robot that can be programmed to taste.

Here is a second research paper that supports my view that often scientists are unscientific about cats. You can see the original here (new window)

  • Title: The problem of destructive scratching by cats
  • Authors: Donal McKeown, Andrew Luescher and Mary Machum

The very first line of this document states:  “Scratching is a common behavioral problem in domestic cats”

Yes, to humans it can be but not to cats. This first important line could and should have read: “Cats scratch, which is a behavioral trait that some people consider a problem.”

In other words the problem is ours not the cats. That is, actually, obvious because scratching is completely normal for a cat. It is also sadly completely normal for a large section of the population in the United States to conveniently forget that.

Three educated people wrote this and the start is biased and unscientific thus proving that not infrequently scientists are unscientific about cats. Or if they are not scientists, then scholars.

Here is another example of how scientists are unscientific about cats (many are essentially the same):

  • Title: Cat Owners’ Attitudes Toward Declawing
  • Author: Landsberg, Gary M.

Mr Landsberg says this, “Of the 276 owners of declawed cats surveyed for this study, all stated that declawing successfully met their objectives..”

Well they would wouldn’t they! People who specifically request declawing have from the start a completely incorrect and biased attitude towards their relationship with the cat. For them the cat can be modified. The cat is there to serve and please the owner. Nearly all declawing is done to stop furniture being scratched so after declawing this will stop. Declawing meets the objective. However, the objective is totally wrong so meeting it is also wrong. This research is a complete waste of time and worse because it fosters poor attitude and disseminates misinformation.

A far better research paper would have been one in which peoples’ attitude towards the cat companion was explored and why many millions of people in America hold the view that declawing is acceptable.

From Scientists are Unscientific About Cats to Declawing Cats

Comments for
Scientists are Unscientific About Cats

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Oct 08, 2009 Unreliable Studies
by: Susan

Finally someone exposing the bias behind the declaw studies! How true that they just further exacerbate the deeply rooted misconceptions of natural cat behavior.

Have you read Dr. Dodman’s commentary on the Yeon study? It’s quite telling….

“In a commentary of the Yeon article, Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine Professor Nicholas Dodman, DVM, MRCVS, DACVB writes,”It is amazing that none of the studies to date on declawing has addressed the right questions to the right persons and drawn the right conclusions. This study is no exception. Owners are an unreliable source of information about their pets, especially months or years after the fact. Almost one-half of the cats in the study required post-operative opioids to control pain following surgery, and the remainder would have probably benefited from it. The owners reported that one-half to two-thirds of the cats in this study showed signs of pain after surgery, likely only the tip of the iceberg. In addition, though the authors were more interested in comparison of the two techniques, it is notable that about 30% of all cats developed a behavior problem after surgery, either house soiling or increased biting. Whatever the owners may have assessed, this was not a good outcome. And, to top it all, 42 of 57 cats (74%) had at least one medical complication following surgery. In light of such findings, it is hard to see why veterinarians don’t spend more time and effort recommending alternatives to declawing than these painful and sometimes debilitating procedures. Instead, we seem to keep finding ways of justifying declawing as an essential component of feline practice.”

Oct 08, 2009 “Scientists and cat behaviour interpretation”
by: Rudolph.A.Furtado

We humans are the alpha animal species on planet earth and expect all other lesser forms of animals to subordination. Cats are the only unique “Pet Species” that are firm minded and hence the proverb “You own a dog, but a cat owns you”. “De-clawing” of cats is a total artificial method of animal subordination. I would personally advise “Pet Owners” who intend “De-Clawing” their pets to better purchase “Robot Cats”, akin to “Robot Dogs”, they save time, energy and pet worries.

Oct 08, 2009 Scientists and cats
by: Ruth aka Kattaddorra

Most scientists look coldly and clinically at cats as if they are objects, not living feeling beings.

They look at ‘cats’ not at each individual ‘cat’
Each and every cat has the right to the life he/she was born for, with the very necessary claws.

You hit the nail on the head Michael, cats do not have behavioural problems, as scratching is a natural and necessary behaviour. It’s the people who get cats and expect them to conform to their idea of how a cat should be, who are the problem. That’s why declawing started,people wanted cats but cats to their specifications, not cats as cats are.

We have a great comment from a USA Veterinarian who signed our ban declawing petition,he says:
‘I have never seen a need to declaw a cat in 30 years of practice. Medical procedures are supposed to help our patients not harm them’
This gentleman must be trained in sciences to do the job he is doing,but he shows sense and compassion too, why can’t everyone?

I make no apologies to anyone for posting this petition every chance I get, there is so much ignorance and hidden agenda about declawing, the only way to stop it is by a ban.

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