One of the big arguments that supporters of declawing regularly use is that people who campaign against cat declawing support neutering and spaying. The pro-declawers say this is illogical because neutering cats is a medical operation just like declawing and it is done at our convenience. This article attempts to show that it is not illogical to support neutering but decry declawing.
The arguments must center around how neutering/spaying and declawing benefit the health and welfare of the cat or not. All operations on cats, under the rules and guidelines of the veterinary profession, must enhance the health and welfare of cats. From the standpoint of cat owners, morally, we can only justify putting our cat through a medical operation if it benefits the cat. I would hope everyone agrees that.
By far the biggest reason why cat owners have their cats declawed, in North America, is to stop the cat damaging furniture. Another, lesser reason, is to stop the cat scratching people. Almost always, there is no cat related medical reason. The operation is done exclusively for the convenience of the person because the person likes cats but not their claws. As a consequence they prefer a modified version of the cat.
The key aspect of declawing is that 99.99% of the time it is done for the person’s benefit. However, from the cat’s perspective it often has a substantially negative impact on the cat’s health and welfare.
There are many pages on PoC about declawing, I will select four of them. Two pages bring home the suffering declawing causes a domestic cat – complications and how many cats suffer in Utah. One debunks the idea that declawing saves cats’ lives and the fourth highlights the incredible post operative pain that partial amputation of ten toes causes the cat despite pain killers. Sometimes pain persists much longer than people think.
In conclusion on declawing: there is a massive downside for the cat but convenience for the person.
Using the criteria above, we will see that neutering and spaying benefits the domestic cat living in the human world and the domestic cat must live in our world. Neutering also benefits people. Personally, I see neutering as a necessity because of failures in the domestication of the cat. For example, we have allowed too many cats to be created.
For the male cat “the operation is not difficult or invasive”. The cat goes home on the day of the operation. There is no post operative pain. He cannot procreate, of course, which indirectly benefits the domestic cat generally because a lot of cats are unwanted and killed at shelters. On this standard alone neutering cats benefits the cat. There is no need for the male domestic cat to procreate willy-nilly. He does not have that role anymore.
There are also benefits for people: spraying urine is often eliminated, he becomes more affectionate and people orientated, he wanders and fights less both of which are beneficial to the health of the male cat.
This operation is, of course, much more substantial. The uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed. The benefits to the female cat are substantial: she is less irritable at certain times of the year, cystic ovaries, false pregnancies, uterine infection and irregular heat cycles are eliminated. In addition, the frequency of occurrence of breast tumours is reduced.
As for the cat’s character it is not changed fundamentally. Spaying may slow metabolism, which is why some cats put on weight. More exercise and a diet will solve that problem.
Contrary to what a significant percentage of cat owners believe, the female cat does not need to have a litter of kittens to be “psychologically fulfilled”.
It goes without saying that spaying also benefits people because there are less unwanted cats. It helps to solve the “unwanted cat problem”.
Spaying and neutering benefits both the cat and people and in the modern world it is a logical necessity. There are no long term complications affecting the health and welfare of the cat. The overall effect is positive and beneficial for both parties.
In contrast, declawing carries significant complications and health and welfare problems for the cat without any benefits. It is only misguided people who benefit but they could just as easily achieve a similar result by altering their attitude and behavior.
These are the reasons why pro-declawers can never use the neutering argument to support their cause.