Sunday 8 August 2021

In the USA, keeping cats indoors full-time opens the door to declawing

Although there is a huge cultural difference between British and American cat owners with respect to declawing, a major cat caretaking difference is the fact that many more Americans keep their cats indoors full-time than Brits. The reason primarily is that there are more predators of domestic cats in America than there in Britain. In fact, there are none in the UK other than dogs and perhaps the odd fox who is ambitious enough to try and attack a cat.

Poster by Kattaddorra (Ruth).

Another reason why there is a growing number of full-time indoor in America is because there are more urban dwellers in America as the human population grows. Outdoor cats have ample opportunities to scratch on objects such as fences and trees. The same cannot be said about indoor cats. Therefore, they carry out their claw-servicing routines on their owner's furniture which irritates and which leads to the convenience of the declawing operation. But that is where the culture difference comes in because when a cat scratches furniture it does not mean that you should remove their claws. You find humane alternatives.

The culture that supports declawing is hard to shift. It is deep-seated. Declawing started in the 1950s. A single veterinarian had the profitable idea possibly inspired by the declawing of cats used as bait to train fighting dogs. It grew from there.

Part of this culture difference is possibly because Americans are more demanding of their freedoms under their constitution. They love their freedoms and do not want the interference of others and the law to curtail them. They want the right to make decisions about how to raise their cat including removing the claws.

To that starting point you have to throw into the mix the attitude of many veterinarians in America. They facilitate the attitude of the cat owners who want their cats declawed. They sometimes offer discount service and fail to explain the operation. Many Americans are misinformed by their vets as to the nature of the operation: a partial amputation and not the simple removal of the claw. This is the exact opposite to what they should be doing because to facilitate it for their owner's convenience is to totally ignore their code of ethics as stated in their oath

I'm sure that Americans hate a Brit writing about declawing which I've done hundreds of times because they probably feel they are being preached to by somebody outside their jurisdiction who has no right to do it. I understand that feeling but in the modern age anybody can comment on anything because the Internet rubs out all the boundaries on the planet.

I've yet to see an accurate, definitive figure as to the number of indoor cats in America. Or the percentage of cat owners who keep their cats indoors full-time. It's strange that. You'd think there'd be some definitive answer but there isn't based on my research. I've seen a figure around 50% or higher. The number is increasing.

If somebody knows a good, accurate figure then please tell me a comment. But what we do know is, as mentioned, there are more full-time indoor cats in the US than there are in the UK. It's ironic, too, that the reason why Brits allow their cats outside is for welfare issues. They believe that the cat has to behave normally and naturally and they can only do that if they have access to the outside. Of course, the outside is dangerous in terms of traffic but they weigh up those risks and decide that overall, the benefits outweigh the risks of injury or death. One of the most common causes of death for domestic cats in the UK is the road traffic accident.

But perhaps it might be fair to say that Americans have a more 'human rights are superior to animal rights' stance. It is their right to elect the declaw operation out of convenience. This may be influenced by the fact that in America they have a written constitution which is often quoted whereas in the UK we don't. The constitution states in writing the right of the citizens of the USA. Maybe it means that those rights are fixed more firmly in the heads of Americans than they are in the British.

Americans are also more religious than Brits. Religion is dying in the UK. The population of the American bible belt is large. The bible encourages declawing as it preaches the dominion of humans over animals.

Although keeping cats indoors protects wildlife from feline predation, this is not the primary reason for keeping them inside. The reason is more human-centric, inward looking.

The conclusion is that there is a link between keeping cats indoors full-time and declawing but it is underpinned by a culture difference.

A cat loving former US diplomat who lives in the UK, Judd Birdsall said:
"When you go around a village in the UK you see lots of cats outside. I can't ever remember seeing a cat outside in the US. For Americans, it's a matter of freedom and convenience - the right to the freedom to make decisions in terms of how you raise your cat, and convenience, because once you remove the claws, you don't ever have to worry about you or the furniture getting scratched. By contrast, in the UK, any concerns for freedom and convenience are vastly dwarfed by concern to the welfare of the cat - it's unthinkable to declaw cats in Europe."

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