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A Message From The United Kingdom


Cats are the most popular pets in the United Kingdom. For a while now, there are a higher number of cats than dogs owned as family pets here.

In the UK declawing is illegal. It is regarded as animal abuse. As the procedure involves amputation of claw and bone it is, in my personal opinion, correct to view it as abuse. I have checked this with my vet and there would have to be a very valid medical reason for a cat to be declawed to allow a cat to be declawed legally. Scratching of furniture and humans does not constitute a valid medical reason. Injury to the cat where there was no alternative to amputation would be a valid reason. Declawing just is not even considered as a procedure to carry out on a cat.

We do NOT have shelters full of cats taken there because they have claws and this seen as an unacceptable thing to have. Cats are NOT euthanised because they have claws. Cats are NOT made unsuitable for rehoming because they have claws. Cats have claws and that's the way life is being a cat.

Most animal rescue organisations will check out a prospective owner of a cat and make sure that he or she understands what owning a cat involves. Certainly if you wanted to adopt a cat from the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) you would have to have had a prior home visit by one of the Society's people to see if your home, and you, are suitable for a cat. If the Society felt you or your home was unsuitable, then the it would not allow you to adopt an animal from it. Some rescue organisations will even carry out unannounced home visits, once you have adopted a cat, to ensure the animal continues to be looked a fter correctly. Education is the key to animal welfare and performing declawing is not regarded as forming a valid part of animal welfare in the United Kingdom.

It is usually very easy to train a cat not to scratch inappropriately, but if you have a problem doing this, a vet would be glad to help with this. Certainly the vet I use would help out with behavioural problems in a cat as well as medical problems. If a problem is really severe, then there are specialists available. In talking with my vet, who has practised for many years, he has NEVER come across a situation where declawing would be a justified option to consider. He came across as being quite shocked as to why anyone would even consider carrying out such a procedure on a healthy animal. He felt there were no health benefits to having a cat declawed, but there were lots of negatives. Perhaps that sums up the UK attitude to declawing. A lot of people haven't even heard of declawing until they come across someone from a country where declawing is allowed. Recently, there was an article in the UK press where a reporter had been to America and for the first time in the reporter's life, declawed cats were encountered. This shocked the reporter so much, an article was written. I hasten to add that the article was anti-declawing, NOT anti-American.

I have owned cats for many, many years and have seen little damage caused to property by cats scratching. I have, however, friends who own dogs and seen a lot of damage caused by dogs, such as doors broken by the dog scratching at it. Would this justify declawing a dog? Of course not. Just as declawing cats is totally unjustified.

Please educate, don't amputate.

Helen Simmons

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