A Powerful Answer About Declawing
To the question, “Which is kinder to a cat: leave it in a shelter or have it declawed so we can adopt it?” Nina Mason answered:
Let me put it to you this way:
Imagine you are homeless and living in a shelter. It sucks.
I come along!
I say, “You can live with me! But there are some stipulations. I’m going to take you to the physician. He’ll need to cut off all your fingertips, all the way back to the knuckle. Yes, that means through the bone and ligaments. You’ll get three days’ worth of pain medication and then you’ll be on your own, but you’ll have a house.”
Now let’s say you are mute. And let’s say I take your silence for consent.
And let’s say that now you’re in my house. Your fingers hurt when it’s cold, but you still have to fold your own laundry, feed yourself, and do the thousand other tasks that required your fingertips. Sometimes just the pressure of a fork makes you want to cry. You used to love video games and needlework, but you can’t do them anymore. You can KIND OF play video games, but not nearly as well, and it will always pain you. It’s hardly worth the effort. Showering properly? Out of the question. You can’t even handle basic hygiene because of the pain.
When I find you crying or tearing blankets off your bed to cope with your stress and pain, I scold you. “I should have left you in that homeless shelter! Shoo!” Eventually I’m unwilling to deal with the consequences of what I’ve done to your hands, so I take you back to the homeless shelter.
And you live there for a long time.
Nobody wants a human with behavioral problems.
You draw into yourself. You get less friendly, less active, because you’re in so much pain. The rough blankets and drapes and furniture are constantly reminding you that you’re missing part of your fingers.
And then someone comes along and says “poor thing. No wonder they have so many problems. Just look at those fingers.”
This person takes you home. They get you medicine for pain and massage your fingers to bring back the bloodflow. They give you soft, plush washcloths to bathe with and when you cry they comfort you. “I know it hurts. I’d fix it if I could.” They take doors out of most of your living area and replace them with opaque curtains so you have privacy without having to use doorknobs. Compared to me, this person is bliss….but it still hurts.
Eventually the pain is so bad you can’t do ANYTHING. You can’t put on a bathrobe. Your rescuer replaces metal spoons with plastic, but even that is too much weight, and you can no longer even eat broth. You just kind of lay around all day and cry and cradle your hands.
You die at fifty-two years old in terrible arthritic pain, having spent most of your life unable to partake in the things you enjoyed. The person who rescued you sobs. In the end, that person is full of pain and grief, and so are you, and even then I’m probably off in a homeless shelter saying “I’ll take you home, but there’s a stipulation.”
You tell me—would you have been better off if I’d left you at that shelter?
A cat’s paws are its hands. If you wouldn’t cheerfully and willingly go through what I’ve said above, don’t declaw.