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    The Case Against Claws

    I told you guys I recently acquired an adorable new kitten named Sally. In describing to a friend how she was climbing up my bedroom curtains I mentioned I was planning to have her de-clawed. My friend responded with absolute horror. Something along the lines of, "How could you do such a cruel and inhumane thing?" (The curtains the kitten was climbing were Eddie Bauer curtains, by the way.)

    My feeling about de-clawing has always been very positive. I’d rather that than the inevitable scratching on furniture and climbing where cats shouldn’t be. Looking at it from the other side, most of the arguments against de-clawing seem to be based on emotion rather than fact.

    A recent law passed by the West Hollywood City Council is the first ban on de-clawing in the United States. Interestingly enough, included in the article about this measure are several arguments for de-clawing and none against. According to CNN.com:

    "Veterinarian Peter Weinstein of the California Veterinary Medical Association noted that declawed cats must always stay indoors. ‘I think sometimes it's more cruel to let a cat outside into a community or an environment where they could become the victim of a car or a coyote,’ he said."

    "The procedure, known as onychectomy, costs $100 to $300 and removes the first joint of each toe in a cat's paw. It's normally done to keep cats from scratching people and furniture."

    "Assemblyman Paul Koretz, a Democrat and former West Hollywood mayor, backs a bill that would apply the ban statewide. He wants to ban the practice not only for house cats, but for larger felines as well. The 4,800-member California Veterinary Medical Association opposes the bill, saying it could prompt some owners to abandon their pets. The state's film industry also is concerned, fearing a ban on de-clawing big cats would make movie sets more dangerous and costly."

    So, that says to me, that the possibility of animal abandonment, hurting family members in a household, property destruction and the tendency to let a clawed cat roam outdoors are all arguments against a ban on de-clawing.

    What are the arguments against de-clawing? I haven’t found one, other than the suppositions of humans who assume they know what the animal feels like.

    Now let me tell you about my own two de-clawed felines and how much "pain" they appear to be in. First of all, they never go out. They spend the day frolicking and playing. Half the night I can hear them romping up and down the hall and stairs of our home. They are both sociable, greeting visitors in turn and without fear. If there is any long lasting ill affects from the de-clawing, I can’t see it.

    "Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake here in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com"