Friday, March 13, 2015

Let's be clear: A declawed cat is not a safer choice for your pug

Liam the pug with his toy

In January, a New York legislator introduced a bill that would outlaw cat declawing. Most animal lovers (including me) were thrilled with this idea. I was so thrilled, in fact, that I hoped I'd see similar legislation pop up in Oregon, where I live.

But I've seen quite a few pro-pug people suggesting that they should have the option to declaw cats, since it's better for the health of their dogs. Here's just one example.

Check out this article, and then scroll on down to the comments (Update 20160729: They've disabled comments.). One poster here claims that she's declawed every cat she's had during the past 40 years, during which time she's rescued both cats and pugs. She suggests she won't be able to rescue cats, if this ban is passed, due to the dangers of cat claws and pug eyes.

This is all hokum, of course.

Pugs and Boston terriers do have rounded, exposed eyes. That's what makes them so adorable and so adoptable. They look like cute, wee babies for all of their lives.

But, those exposed eyes are vulnerable to injury. And those injuries can happen fast. Sinead had an eye ulcer, in fact, due to running into a table at high speed (here's a blog entry about that). When the eyes are big and buggy, they can get hurt. It happens.

But, both of my dogs have lived with cats for most of their lives. They've interacted with shy indoor cats and bold outdoor cats. They've both been slapped around quite a bit.

And you know what? Not one single eye injury (not ONE) has taken hold due to a cat claw.

That's worth stressing. When Liam met my husband's semi-feral cats for the first time, and those cats had never been around dogs, they did not hurt his eyes. They just did not. They swatted at him with their claws in, and his eyes were fine.

At the moment, Liam and Sinead are learning to live with sweet Troy, who has been declawed. And when the dogs come too close to him, he swats at them with his weaponless mitts. But are they safer? I don't think so.

Troy the cat stretched out on the floor
Troy takes a powder in the middle of the room. It's a risk, since
he has no claws to use if he's attacked or provoked.

If the dogs were to come too close to a weaponized cat, that cat could whip out the claws and do a head, leg, nose, ear or chest scratch. It could be a tiny little cut that's just enough to make them back off.

If Troy gets cornered, all he can do is bite. And let me tell you: Cat bites are nasty. They're deep, they hurt and they can cause scarring. He could bite them anywhere, and that damage could be killer.

So should we take out his teeth, too?

Of course not.

The answer isn't to take away a cat's defenses. The answer is to carefully supervise your cat/dog interactions. My dogs have zero access to cats when I am not around. They sleep in crates (Sinead) or in the bedroom (Liam) without cats when I am not home, and they spend time in the yard with the semi-ferals only when I am in the yard. They behave, because I make them do so.

I am hoping we pug people can come together to support legislation like the New York bill. The sooner we stop mutilating cats, the better off our entire world will be.

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