Declawing is not simply the removal of the claws, rather it's a procedure that amputates the last knuckles of a cat's paw -- cutting through bones, tendons, skin, and nerves. An analogous procedure applied to humans would be cutting off each finger at the last joint (how's that for a thought, eh?). Besides the obvious consequence of robbing a predatory animal of its primary means of defense (the claws) and thus increasing the risk that the cat will resort to biting when feeling threatened, declawing can lead to a whole string of negative impacts on the cat's health and behavior, not the least of which are painful nail and bone regrowth, arthritic issues, and litter box avoidance (because it hurts the cat's declawed paws to bury its waste).
In many other countries, among them several European nations such as Germany, the UK, and Austria, declawing is illegal and considered animal cruelty and mutilation. Unfortunately, the practice is very common in the US, mostly due to veterinarians' greed for profit (they make truck loads of money with the procedure) and lack of education of cat owners. In fact, most of the cat owners who bring their beloved pet in for declawing don't know that the procedure does not "just remove the claws," and those that learn the truth are often shocked and appalled, and decide not to have their cat declawed.
The Paw Project has taken on the very important task of spreading the word about what declawing really is, and working toward a nationwide ban on the practice. As long as the law allows it, veterinarians more interested in money than their four-legged patients' health will continue to neglect properly educating cat owners on declawing and/or offering non-mutilating alternatives (such as nail trimming or Soft Paws).
As with any charity, donations are vital to the Paw Project, but almost equally needed are people willing to just spread the word and champion the cause. I frequently share the Paw Project's status updates on Facebook, and I talk about the issue around declawing whenever the topic can be naturally worked into a conversation (about cats, worthy causes, interesting documentaries I've watched -- there's a great film about the project on Netflix, "The Paw Project" -- etc.). There is a lot you can do even if your financial resources are limited.
What Oregonians in particular can do right now to help end declawing: There is a bill currently in review with the senate which would prohibit declawing of cats and devocalization of dogs (yes, another inhumane practice that actually exists) in Oregon, with exceptions, however, that will provide giant loopholes and can be used to circumvent the ban. The Paw Project opposes this bill, advocating instead for harsher legislation to be passed, allowing no exceptions. What you can do to help: Contact your Oregon State Senator (you can find them here) and share your concerns about the exceptions in the bill. Say that HB 3494-B contains unacceptable loopholes and will not protect dogs and cats. The bill would allow declawing and devocalization to continue unchecked in Oregon at the sole discretion of veterinarians. The bill is not a step forward for animals. Rather, it is a step backwards in the movement to protect animals from unnecessary harm. For more information on this bill, please visit http://www.pawproject.org/whatyoucando as well as the Paw Project's Facebook page.
In closing, since this was such a serious subject matter in this blog post, here's a cute pic of my cat Sheldon playing peek-a-boo.
Following her lifelong passion for stories and languages, polyglot Nadine Mutas went from tangling with tongues at a translation agency to wrestling with words in her writing den. She pens wickedly sensual paranormal romances, and her debut novel, Blood, Pain, and Pleasure, which was published on May 28, 2015, has won several awards for excellence in romance writing. You can find more info on Nadine and her books on her website: www.nadinemutas.com