Discussing the Poll on Declawing and Devocalisation

Discussing the Poll on Declawing and Devocalisation

by Michael
(London, UK)

Feb 2011: Susan Woodhouse kindly directed me to this infamous poll. I’d like to say that I have not seen the actual cold poll data. I have seen a lot of duplicated stories that are built around the poll’s findings. They are all exactly the same; the same words but no reference to how the poll was conducted etc..

For example, the poll concluded that “Nearly 60 percent of American pet owners….say declawing is OK” But it does not qualify that by adding under what circumstances. I presume it means under any circumstances but I would be surprised if that was the case.

Without wishing to be overly critical, the poll is not only imprecise but a little confusing because both “pet owners” and “cat owners” were polled leading to lack of clarity for me.

Please understand that this is a brainstorming session, no more. I am trying to figure out why declawing cats exists in North America and nowhere else. There is no intention to criticise. The intention is to better understand the root causes to then find fundamental solutions.

Without also wishing to be overly politically correct, the way that the authors have described cats as “pets” and the caretakers as “pet owners” indicates a lack of empathy with cats and dogs. The concept of ownership does not sit well with companion animals even if outdated law says they are our property.

I present the figures that I have read on the internet below. This is a straight list.

As Susan said, it makes depressing reading to be honest. Although we do not have earlier polls against which we can make comparisons.

I strongly suspect that some 20 or more years ago the figures would indicate a much higher percentage of people who accepted declawing. Let’s remind ourselves that at one time not so long ago veterinarians were not sure if cats felt pain! Some still aren’t sure..:).

It would be nice to see a gradual drift towards rejecting declawing in mainstream American households.

So what do I make of these figures? I see a deeply entrenched attitude towards accepting declawing that has somehow been born out of the idea that cats are “only animals” or “only cats” and people are superior beings. With that mentality we are able to do as we wish with cats. It is our God given right. And I think God plays a role in this misconception. It is the declawing disconnect.

Once again I don’t want to upset anyone but unenlightened bible bashing style Christianity does rather tend to make people feel special and different to the world’s other creatures. In a very subtle way, it tends to promote declawing. I know that is a provocative statement but I believe it. See Speciesism. Please don’t misunderstand me though. I respect Christians and Christianity. There are many wonderful Christian visitors to this site. I just disagree with what I would consider distortions of its true beliefs.

Middle America is far more religious than the UK. The UK is quite secular. Religion is dying in the UK. Is this a factor why declawing is 100% unacceptable in the UK.

Why is there declawing in America and not in Europe? At one time Americans were immigrant Europeans and Native Americans. We are essentially the same people. Has anyone got any ideas? Is the second amendment partly to blame: the right to bear arms? This may perpetuate what is for me at least a throw back to the 18th century when hunting and shooting was a part of life.

I wonder if the poll I am discussing would have produced an entirely different result if it had been conducted in say the state of New York or Maine? I have no idea but I also have no idea about the sample of the people polled. Where are these people? I think the poll really needed to be more precise and scientific to carry weight.

The worrying thing for me is the way declawing is so integral to the America way of life. I really sense that it is hard wired into a large segment of American society. This will take years to remove. It will change but the large percentage who find declawing acceptable and the small percentage who want it banned means a long journey before change takes place.

An interesting statistic is that there is the odd perception that devocalising dogs is much worse than declawing cats. Are they that different? I don’t think so. Where does that difference come from? Perhaps the vets have informed dog caretakers that the devocalisation operation is dangerous and that there is a high risk of complications whereas declawing is very straightforward.

If that is the case dog caretakers might have different ideas if the operation was easy. There’s a depressing thought.

It also means that the vets dictate the situation. If vets told people that declawing caused behavioral problems and lots of pain rather promote the opposite, that it is a routine operation like neutering, it is likely that over time the shockingly high numbers of people who accept declawing would come down to devocalisation levels.

One last point comes to mind. The people of America quite rightly don’t want laws to erode their freedoms; their right to make their own decisions. I agree with that. This is probably why the percentage of people for a ban on declawing is relatively low. The trouble is that when a process such as declawing is deeply ingrained as being acceptable it will be a very long time before that culture evolves naturally towards deciding that declawing is immoral. Under these circumstances, a legal ban is right and proper to speed things up. Law also changes opinion. However, the obstacles to creating legislation to ban declawing are massive because the majority of people don’t want it. What politician would promote such legislation? He or she would be out on his ear.

Michael Avatar

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Discussing the Poll on Declawing and Devocalisation

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Feb 21, 2011 Well Said Kathleen
by: Michael

Well said Kathleen. Of course I agree with you totally.

You make the good point that if devocalisation was less tricky vets would do it far more and promote it.

It is pure circumstance that declawing is less life threatening.

But the underlying mentality of the vets is the same: the cat or dog is an animal that we can do as we like with. They are to be used for our benefit.

This is a very crude, old fashioned concept that goes back hundreds of years and more. It is the kind of mentality that the Egyptians had 2,500 BC when wildcats were first domesticated.

American vets are both advanced in their surgical skills and equipment etc. but backward in their mentality.

And they love money. They feel that they deserve to earn good money. All those hours studying. All that hard work.

Don’t get me wrong but there is a certain degree of unsophistication amongst the American vets. You only have to watch those horrible declaw videos they make. They sound like car mechanics. They sound stupid to me. And they are certainly not gods to me.

The American public should challenge them, test them and ask challenging questions. They won’t have answers.

The American public are too compliant.

Michael Avatar

Feb 18, 2011 some good brainstorming
by: Kathleen

I for one am happy to see some discussion possibly starting about some of the deeply-rooted cultural beliefs that help to support declawing in North America, because it IS deeply rooted and changing people’s attitudes about it WILL take time.

I think Michael is right when he points out that vets dictate the attitudes of pet owners in the US, and I think the findings of the poll regarding the different views of declawing and devocalizing confirm this. I don’t know how people feel about doctors or vets in the UK or other countries, but here in the US we seem to have granted them a near-godlike status, and neither their authority nor their opinions are routinely questioned by many people. The pet owners in this poll were found to be more against devocalizing because far more VETS are against devocalizing in the US. The same vets who continue to promote declawing as a harmless procedure when it is not will refuse to perform a devocalization, for the MOST part at least. I have never encountered a vet who will perform or recommend devocalizing. The reason for this is because it is an inherently more delicate and risky procedure to PERFORM, and vets who do it stand a significantly greater chance of having their patient die right there on the operating table, and this would make them LOOK bad, so they choose not to do it. Declawing, on the other hand, despite how devastating it can be for the cat, is a fairly simple procedure for vets to perform, so they aren’t afraid to perform it. Say what you will about the attitudes of pet owners, but I cannot see significant change happening with them UNTIL we can effect more of a change in attitudes within the veterinary community. They do set the tone for the entire debate, and as long as vets themselves find declawing acceptable, their recommendations and reassurances are going to carry more weight with the American public than anything that can be said or shown to them by anyone outside the veterinary field. This is why I think that finding, promoting and publicizing the good vets who refuse to declaw is so vital. It shows the public that there is disagreement in the veterinary field over the acceptability of declawing, AND it shows vets that their colleagues who don’t declaw ALSO don’t lose their client base as a result.

Feb 17, 2011 Incredibly cruel
by: Angel O

It’s incredible to me that people should even have a say in whether declawing is cruel or not because it so obviously is cruel.
For anyone to vote it shouldn’t be banned is a sign of that person being immune to a cats pain and is entirely a wrong person to have a cat in their charge.
As for the US doctors who do this evil surgery they and their entire staff who condone it by working under the same roof should be arrested and made to pay for their cruelty just as they rightfully would be in our country.

Feb 17, 2011 Declawing.
by: Lyn (Pru’s mum)

It’s disgusting this cruel practice still goes on in the 21st centuary. Cats have claws for a reason just as we have nails, how would these so called cat lovers like to have their nails removed? I think not.

Maybe some owners have their pets claws removed to stop them damaging furniture or scratching. If this is the case they shouldn’t have a cat, one of the consequences for living with a cat is the odd bit of damage, there are humane ways to deal with this.

I totally agree any form of so called “cosmetic surgery” on animals is cruel & barbaric. It was only recently here in the UK that tail & ear docking was banned in dogs.

In my opinion any owner who resorts to declawing a cat dosen’t deserve the pleasure of owning one.

Outlaw this barbaric practice NOW.

Feb 17, 2011 Agree with Christine
by: Michael

I agree with you. This horrible argument that declawing saves lives is actually wheeled out when vets are challenged. I remember it coming out at a city council meeting to ban declawing – I think it was in Burbank.

You have told me that there is no foundation for it. It is also wrong because it is building one wrong – declawing – upon another wrong – relinquishment for no good reason.

Thanks for your comment. We need a definitive study that is accepted by both sides – i.e. jointly instructed and prepared.

Feb 17, 2011 Changing vets
by: Christine (Ontario, Canada)

Yes, it is difficult to interpret poll results. In my opinion, to do this one accurately, it would ask a whole series of questions with part 1. asking their current opinion, and part 2. would ask their opinion AFTER people had been given the facts about declawing.

There’s also the survey info from Dr. Hofve’s article, “Declawing and Science”,

If declawing was banned…

“While veterinarians have opined that up to 75% of people who request declawing would get rid of their cat if surgery couldn’t be done (thus providing the rationale that declawing somehow “saves” cats), a survey of their own clients found that only 4% would euthanize or relinquish if declawing weren’t an option. (It is a well-known tendency among veterinarians to vastly underestimate both the resources and the compassion of their clients. They don’t know, because they don’t ask.)

In a survey of Canadian veterinarians, only 102 were willing to venture a guess as to how many of their clients would have given up their cats if not for declawing (their estimate was 57%). This brief (1-1/2 page) article has become the foundation for claims that declawing “saves” cats’ homes or lives. The entire argument rests on this flimsy excuse that was proved completely false by the next study by the same author. (Landsberg GM. Declawing is controversial but saves pets. A veterinarian survey. Vet Forum 1991;8:66-67.)

A survey of 276 clients (of those same veterinarians who guessed that 57% of their clients would have gotten rid of their cats) found that a whopping 4% would have seriously considered doing so. Because this study was published in a journal that few vets even know exists, it has remained obscure, and most vets who favor declawing use only the flawed and 99%-wrong figures. (Landsberg GM. Cat owners’ attitudes toward declawing. Anthrozoos 1991;4:192-197.)”

Feb 16, 2011 Polls
by: Kath

The problem with polls is they can be manipulated sometimes by either side of voters so you can’t take them seriously.
There are times when I’ve felt so strongly about the result of a poll that I’ve cleared my history and had more votes and because I could do it so could others once they cottoned on.
Even if you can’t do that polls can be distorted because of where they are asked.
As we’ve said a million or more times,if all vets stuck to their oath there would be no animals suffering from any uneccessary surgery at all.

Feb 16, 2011 How about our own video?
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Interesting stuff, Michael; however, the question that comes to my mind is this: Why not make our own video for YouTube with all the horrific facts and link it to the videos of all of the pain and suffering the cats incur. Seems to me it could somehow be linked up to the one with the disabled comments (at least for awhile) so those viewing the disabled comment video can then link onto ours with the real facts. Perhaps even the title of our anti-declaw video could be similar to the pro-claw one so people see our link too.

Feb 16, 2011 Mammon
by: MIchael

Thanks Ruth. I agree. I forgot to mention it and thanks for reminding me. America was, until recently, the powerhouse of the world regarding commerce and making money (China has taken over).

In which case it is the vets, in chasing money, who are probably the major problem. I have always felt that they were. It is in their power to change everything at a stroke.

I guess the customers share the blame as in protecting their couch/sofa they are indirectly making a decision based on money.

Feb 16, 2011 Mammon not religion to blame
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

America’s problem has very little to do with Biblical teachings, distorted or not. It has to do with the love of money and possessions. Martin Luther called it “chasing after mammon” and the word mammon includes all the things of this world– money, fame, power and possessions. Capitalism works. I’m a huge believer in its power to motivate people to work hard and in so doing serve their fellow man. Isn’t it amazing that perfect strangers do things for us like serve us meals, provide us with things we need, care for our health and fix our cars? Luther says good things about this work we do– our callings. But capitalism allows opportunities for wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. There need hardly be any of us poor who are willing to work, and the poorest among us have all the modern conveniences. To the extent that America has embraced capitalism over socialism we have had prosperity. The 1980’s under Reagan were called “the decade of greed.” And therein lies the problem. Human beings are sinful and flawed and come to worship the god of mammon very easily, especially when it is so easy to become wealthy. It becomes a religion to make all the money you can. The only sin is to not take advantage of this opportunity. The only commandment is to have the nicest stuff. These people sit by me in church, but we don’t worship the same god. The God of the Bible says we have dominion over animals And shows us what that means. The Good Shepherd lies down His life for His sheep. When the god is mammon the animals don’t have a chance.

Feb 16, 2011 It depends
by: Rose

Yes it all depends on who conducts the poll and who they ask of course too.
It seems as if we make a bit of progress with the education of the ignorant who are pro declaw then something comes up to make us think are we wasting our time.
I expect declawing doctors want us to give in and let them continue their abuse of cats in peace but want can be their master because I think a lot of us are determined to keep on with our educating.
Devocalisation is horrible too but unless we are not hearing of a lot of cases,it doesn’t seem to be as popular as declawing.

Feb 16, 2011 Ruth’s figures
by: Michael

Hi Ruth. Thanks for the figures from about.com. They are quite different to the figures that I have turned up.

This one:

No. I disapprove of declawing cats (3056) 66%

Is almost opposite to the one highlighted in red in the poll above (60% of pet owners accept or approve).

Based on what you have told me that the poll that I refer to is inaccurate. The about.com is also possibly not from a cross section of society.

This is one of the problems. We don’t have conclusive facts. Things are too muddy. Perhaps the person who compiled the poll in my article is biased – who knows?

Feb 16, 2011 Interesting
by: Ruth

The results of a poll on About.com cats
Is your cat declawed ?
Yes, done by a previous owner, but I wouldn’t declaw (266) 5%
Yes, done by me, but I’d never do it again
(298) 6%
Yes, done by me, and I’d do it again
(764) 16%
No. I disapprove of declawing cats
(3056) 66%
No, but I’m thinking about it
(223) 4%
Total votes 4607
Interesting figures. Most people disapprove on there.

I can’t understand Americans not wanting a law for the welfare of animals. In England we were very happy when our Animal Welfare Act was passed because those of us who truly love animals were glad that animal abusers would be prosecuted.
In the USA there would be no need for a law to ban declawing if the very people who are supposed to put animal welfare first, the vets, did just that.
But instead they deny it causes suffering and they hide the problems it can cause. We only have to watch a pro declaw video on YouTube and see that comments are disabled. The vets who make those videos don’t want any comments telling the truth, they don’t want to stop making money out of that cruel surgery.
I hate any cosmetic surgery on any animal but I think declawing is the cruellest surgery of all.
Most people are against devocalisation of dogs because their wounds and distress is so obvious. The wounds and distress of cats are hidden away behind closed doors, the cat stoically accepting his fate and adjusting to a disabled life.
In my opinion anyone who thinks any cosmetic surgery is acceptable does not love animals, nor even like them come to that.
The 16% in the poll above who say yes done by me and I’d do it again are obviously the sort of people who think they are superior to animals and those sort of people should not have any cat in their power !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

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About Michael Broad

Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!

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