There are two counter arguments to this that come to mind. The first comes from a report that is available on the American Veterinary Medical Association website. It is a research project conducted by Gary J. Patronek, VMD, PhD called: Assessment of claims of short- and long-term complications associated with onychectomy in cats.
Dr. Patronek went over previous research projects to try and answer the question as to whether there were short and/or long term consequences of declawing of cats. In fact he found out that there was no research project that provided a clear picture, which meant that American veterinarians were carrying out a major and serious operation on the whim of the cat's owner with reckless disregard for the outcome - bizarre but true. I will take the liberty of quoting him verbatim:
It seems unthinkable that an elective surgery performed on a quarter of owned cats could lack definitive evaluation, but that appears to be the case. (2001)However, the point I want to make is that in his review of the earlier research when a variety of factors are taken into account (called multivariate analysis - meaning multiple variables are taken into account when analyzing the findings) he states that:
"..........declawed cats were at an increased risk of relinquishment"What he saying is that cats that were declawed were then at a greater risk of being given up to shelters. This is the exact opposite of the often quoted and false argument that declawing cats saves cat's lives.
Here is another point and this may be what Dr. Patronek's research was getting at. I say that declawing cats kills more cats. Lets assume that we wake up tomorrow and declawing is banned. A brave new world arrives. The people who have bought or adopted cats on the basis that they will have them declawed give up their cats. These are the people who feed the declawing business (a $20 billion dollar business by my reckoning). They want cats but don't want cats. They want an animal companion that looks like a cat but that does not act like one.
Immediately after a nationwide declawing ban there would be a huge number of cats given up. There are over 20 million declawed cats in the USA. Millions of cats would therefore be euthanized as a result of a declaw ban - initially that is. And this is the point. All the people who would have had their cats declawed (about 20 million of them) would no longer keep cats. We know that the people who request declawing are the wrong kind of people to keep cats - that must be a given. People who request declawing are prioritising furniture over the health and wellbeing of their cat. That shows us where their priorties lie. They are the kind of people who give up cats on a whim. They must be the kind of people who are more likely to give up their cat on the simple basis that they value furniture over the cat's health.
These irresponsible owners would be out of circulation. Over time the number of cats given up and then euthanised would be reduced dramatically. As about 2 or more million cats are euthanised each year in the USA, over time there would be considerably less cats killed. There is no doubt in my mind that declawing cats kills more cats as it feeds the concept that cats are inanimate objects to do with as we please. It creates a carelessness of ownership of cats. It devalues and debases cats and fosters irresponsible ownership which is the absolute underlying problem that faces us all in regard to the wholly unacceptable state of affairs that is the yearly mass slaughter of cats in America.
Note: As I have said previously, I have a high regard for America and the American people but I am justifiably critical of what I consider to be a blind spot for the American people - the declawing of cats for non-therapeutic purposes.
Note: the best way to introduce a ban on declawing would be gently and progressively, which is what may happen in any case. This would allow people time to adjust and there would be less cats given up. There would be a gradual change in culture that would help the cat companion.
See more articles on declawing cats.