I have been a veterinarian for 13 years and have worked in both private practice and shelters. I strongly support a bill in the State Legislature that would prohibit cat declawing, except when needed to treat an illness or injury.
I regrettably declawed a few cats myself when I first entered the veterinary profession, but I’ve learned so much since then.
This procedure is wrongly perceived as a quick fix for preventing furniture damage. Most don’t know of its many potential adverse effects or realize that declawing requires multiple amputations of the last bone on each toe and its attached claw.
Cats’ toes are extremely sensitive, and unlike humans who walk flatly, cats walk on their toes. As a result, declawed cats often experience intermittent or chronic pain, infection and limping. Declawing is also associated with behavior problems. These include increased biting and litter box avoidance, the top two behavioral reasons why cats are surrendered to shelters.
Declawing has been banned in eight U.S. cities; in all five that have shelters, cat intake numbers have actually decreased in the five years after the bans, as compared with the five years before them.
Susan V. Whittred, Long Beach
Editor’s note: The writer is New York co-director of The Paw Project, which advocates against declawing cats.