There are some people who say that there is little difference between declawing domestic cats and spaying and neutering them. They are both modifications of the domestic cat. It is people taking the whole domestic cat, a beautiful animal, and modifying them in terms of their anatomy to suit the human environment and lifestyle. It’s a bit like a sculpture adjusting his work of art so that it looks better.
It is, arguably, a great shame that people have to modify domestic cats in this way. There is a difference between the two, not in terms of their surgery because all three operations require surgery of various severity, but in terms of their purpose.
Spaying and neutering stops procreation and therefore the creation of unwanted cats. If people, due to their irresponsibility, allow cats to procreate the argument is that they will suffer miserable, shortened lives because they are unwanted. They end up on the scrapheap, as stray or feral cats, struggling to survive in a human world. They become food for coyotes and other predators or they are killed at shelters. We have to do something about that and we do in very large numbers. So the purpose of spaying and neutering is good. It has an ulterior and higher motive. It is morally justified which is the ultimate reason why it is accepted.
Declawing cannot be morally justified. In fact, it is completely unjustifiable. It is the removal of the distal phalanx of each toe of each paw on a domestic cat’s forelegs. Sometimes all four paws are declawed. The operation is done exclusively for the benefit of people. There is no benefit to the cat except perhaps in 0.0001% of cases. It is to stop cats scratching people and/or furniture.
This is in stark contrast to spaying and neutering which includes, as mentioned, some benefit to the cats concerned. There are also downsides for the cat to spaying and neutering, however. Click here for one downside to male cat neutering and here for one downside to female cat spaying. All three procedures are done primarily for the benefit of people. Let’s not forget that.
The conclusion that we have to come to is that spaying and neutering is justified morally whereas declawing is morally reprehensible. That’s the difference if you are comparing these operations.
People who support declawing – and there are millions of cat owners in America who do – might try and justify it by saying that it is no different to spaying and neutering. They are clearly wrong. In my opinion, and I have very strong views on this, any cat owner who declaws their cat is not fit to be a cat owner at all. Cat owners should learn how to avoid scatches. That is their responsibility. Declawing should be absolutely forbidden under the criminal law, nationwide. That rule applies to the UK by the way and it is banned in about 35 countries in the world, mainly in Europe.