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Deborah's story

Several years ago I was employed as shelter manager at a relatively small humane society. Kris, our cat care coordinator, was becoming increasingly disturbed at the euthanasia rate for declawed cats and decided to conduct an informal study. She discovered that more than 80% of declawed cats that were either returned or owner surrendered that year were done so because of litterbox problems or biting. In 1996, 89 declawed cats and kittens were euthanized. The youngest, only 4 months old, had not yet even been given a name. Since people are understandably not interested in adopting such a pet, euthanasia was the only option.

Shelter workers are far more likely to see the devastating results of declawing. Failure to use a litterbox and biting are considered behavior problems, an area most veterinarians are untrained or unwilling to go. Owners bring us their once wonderful pets and we try to explain to them why the cat's personality changed. Most leave feeling guilty, some are crying. All vow never to inflict that torture on a cat again.

And to those people who say they've never had a problem with a declawed cat, you're lucky - so far. Sometimes the problems don't show up for years. It's a risk not worth taking.

I'm sending this because of a sweet little Calico kitten, an orphan I fostered and sent to a shelter for adoption. At 6 months of age she was returned for not using a litterbox - declawed, mutilated, ruined. She had not even been spayed. Her future is uncertain. Both shelters have since added clauses to their adoption contracts which forbid declawing.


February 10, 2001

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