Categories: cat owner's role

Risk aversion is a reason why cats are declawed

In 2020, in America, about 19 million cats have lost a part of the ten toes of their two forepaws. This is declawing. It is not just the removal of a claw. It is the removal of ten claws plus the bone of the toe which supports the claw and which extends from the last knuckle of the toe. Having got that out of the way just to make sure people know what it is, I would like to discuss risk aversion in declawing.

Declawing poster. by Ruth aka Kattaddorra

I have to get another thing out of the way immediately. This article is not about gender bias. I want to be scrupulously fair and practice absolute equality between the sexes at all times. And I don’t want women, who read this article, to think that I’m being mean and nasty to them. I’m simply discussing the facts as I see them and I welcome any comments which might criticise me.

So down to business. It occurred to me that a major or the major reason why domestic cats are declawed is because the person who asks a veterinarian to declaw their cat is risk averse to being scratched. They are also risk averse to their furniture being scratched. They don’t want the possibility of it happening to be on their minds. They remove the possibility by removing the cat’s claws (plus the bone which supports them).

It is pretty much universally accepted through many studies that women are more risk-averse than men. This is possibly because of the way they are raised. We should not automatically assume that women inherit greater risk aversion than men. If it is accepted that they are more risk averse than men and that they play a bigger role in looking after the family cat it might be argued that they are major players in the declawing of cats. Perhaps they are the people who instruct the veterinarian to declaw their cat.

This does not, however, mean that they automatically take responsibility for the operation being carried out. They might be the only person who decides that the declawing should happen. In which case they are responsible together with the vet. However, in a family where the woman has a partner and if that partner is a male then he also has a responsibility to be involved in making the decision. If he abdicates that responsibility he is equally responsible.

Poster by Ruth aka Kattaddorra

We don’t know what sort of cat owners instruct veterinarians to declaw cats. Perhaps a survey should be carried out to find out. It is probable that a woman enters the veterinary clinic with her cat in a carrier and instructs the veterinarian. If that is so I would argue that risk-aversion is an issue in this contentious operation.

AVMA report on declawing showing that trainee vets do declawing operations.

I’m pretty certain that a lot of Americans who love their cats still declaw them. They will perhaps be upset by what I have said as they see a completely different picture. They see declawing as perhaps sensible (see chart below) and they don’t believe that it causes a lot of pain or sometimes permanent disabilities despite the fact that a high percentage of these operations are botched because of the speed at which they are carried out. Another factor has emerged in my research. Apparently, senior student veterinarians often carry out the operation supervised by a veterinarian (AVMA). This may be a reason why there are botched declawing operations. It seems that veterinarians downplay the importance of the operation in allowing a trainee to do it. This indicates an attitude problem.

Declawing cats is cruel?

To conclude, I believe that risk aversion is an issue here and it should be looked at. If we are to apportion blame for declawing it should be shared between the veterinarians who do it and the risk-averse cat owners who instruct them.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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