With all the hostile political drama on Facebook, I’ve taken cover in many cat lover groups. As with any group where people share a common passion, it’s easy to relate, and feel a level of comfort. “Mommy Shaming” gets nasty among mothers of human children, but such shaming is just as harsh for cat parents. There are 2 subjects where the fur to starts to fly in otherwise pleasant cat circles. The topics of declawing, and indoor vs outdoor, get the “mommy shaming” pot stirring in a nasty way.
The back and forth in one cat group has gotten so ugly over the indoor vs. outdoor debate, one of our group moderators removed members, and changed group rules due to the jabs being thrown. There are often posts from grieve stricken cat parents, having lost their beloved cat due to being hit by a car, attacks from other animals, or having gone missing. Many people empathize and send messages of comfort and condolences. Surprisingly, there are many members who jump in and respond by stating the cat had no business being outdoors to begin with, and accusing the parent of not caring for their cat.
If you’ve read my About Me, you know that I’ve been caring for indoor and stray kitties for about 34 years. You also know I lost the majority of those precious feral kitties to the very busy side road where I grew up. That constant heart-break has led me to be an indoors only cat mamma. I also happen to live in Queens NY, with lots of busy roads. Do I judge parents who allow their cats out?… Honestly? Yes. Not in a “you don’t really love your cat” type of way, but in the sense that I’ve lived the nightmare of seeing my beautiful outdoor family lifeless and mangled time and time again. I was a kid and my parents weren’t home owners, so there was only so much we could do back then to shelter them. I just can’t wrap my head around being able to completely shelter my loves and possibly prevent them from such a cruel fate.
I can see situations where depending on where you live, and lifestyle, a cat can enjoy the best of both worlds. Especially if their mommy/daddy has never dealt with the experience of losing a beloved cat so tragically. I do have close friends who have a cat that comes and goes very happily. I actually couldn’t even picture their cat being strictly indoors. For many of you and your kitties, it does work. To me, it’s just one of those things where if ever there comes a time where it doesn’t work, it’s just too horrible a circumstance. Who knows, with all the great enclosed outdoor options, including great D.I.Y projects, it could be something I consider once we have a yard.
The second topic that sparks debate among cat owners and even veterinarians, is the option of declawing. When I was a kid, getting your cat declawed didn’t cause any stir. Without the abundant info of the internet, and less animal advocacy, it was routine. According to peta.org, “Declawing a cat is like cutting a person’s fingers off at the first knuckle”. The AVMA.org states that “Onychectomy is an amputation and should be regarded as a major surgery”. Given this insight, it’s easy to see why declawing is a a sensitive subject for discussion among cat lovers. The behavior of scratching is a normal and healthy stretching activity for cats. Their claws are also a natural defense if they were ever to escape into the outdoors.
None of my cats have ever been declawed. I’ve also never had a cat I considered destructive. With a 4 and almost 3-year-old, I can say with certainty, it’s the kids who’ve turned our 3-year-old couches into pieces that look like they came from someone’s curb side! I have known declawed cats who appeared healthy and happy. Their owners were also happy with the ability to have a beloved furry family member, along with their furniture intact. This leads to the second school of thought on the declaw debate. Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD states, “I’ve been in rescue and shelter situations where unwanted cats sit in cages for years or wind up in kill shelters. I would rather perform a few declaws a year and have those kitties in safe homes than think about the alternative. But many other veterinarians, particularly newer grads, simply refuse to do declaws”. In fact, the United Kingdom has outlawed declaws completely.
Is it fair to demonize people who have love, and a happy home to offer 1 or more cats, for the fact that they also appreciate the ability to own beautiful things? This is one where I can appreciate both sides without passing harsh judgement. To be perfectly honest, if I had a choice of having every one of those sweet feral kitties I grew up with declawed and in homes vs. the fate they eventually met, I wouldn’t think twice about getting them into a safe loving home, minus their claws. There are many alternatives to declawing, (which I will get into greater detail in future articles), that I feel should be given a fair chance before surgery.
Though the subjects of indoor vs. outdoor cats, and declawing can cause emotions to get stirred up, I think we can agree that this is the case because we do love cats so much. Perhaps in the quest for what’s best for kitties, we need more understanding of our different parenting styles, and reasonings. So smile when you see a picture of a cat enjoying the outdoors, and say a little prayer for their protection and safety. When you come across someone who has had their cat declawed, ask questions to understand why they felt it was necessary. For example, a person with diabetes could be in a dire situation if scratched. Feel free to comment with your thoughts!