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Adoption Rates Spike During the Pandemic, But Don't Declaw Your New Feline Friend.

Byline: Rachel Gonzales

As someone who grew up with dogs, I never imagined myself desperately wanting to own a cat. Recently moved out of my childhood home and newly married, it was my first time living without a pet. The building my husband and I currently live in doesn't permit dogs. In fact, they have a sign on the entrance of an image of a dog with a big red "X" over it, clearly indicating that dogs are not welcome. However, cats are.

Cats are well liked in the condo we are renting. Before signing the lease, our landlord told us she would be agreeable if we had one. Since we didn't, the pet section of our lease was omitted. In my time living here, I gradually noticed other tenants receiving cat supplies from online pet retailers, such as,, and carrying bags of litter and kibble with their groceries. "Cat fever" for my husband and I started to grow even more when we stumbled upon a humane society in our neighborhood.

The West Suburban Humane Society is a volunteer based shelter in Downers Grove, IL roughly 20 miles outside of Chicago. Like many others seeking to adopt a furry companion amidst the coronavirus pandemic, my husband and I decided this was the right time as we have finally settled into our new home. Most shelters are currently by appointment-only to practice social distancing. With adoption rates up and restricted visitation, shelters are busy. Still, the West Suburban Humane Society returned our adoption application in a timely manner.

After researching cats and their needs, we made an appointment to visit the beloved shelter. The workers were helpful and professional. We browsed their online catalog of homeless cats and were set on meeting two of them. In our spare time, awaiting for our kitty rendezvous, we continued learning as much as we can about owning a cat. The application we submitted to the West Suburban Humane Society asked if we would declaw our cats. We honestly marked "no", vaguely knowing that cats should not be declawed. It wasn't until deeper into our research when we learned that declawing cats is seriously wrong.

We watched a documentary named after a nonprofit entitled "The Paw Project". The story begins by introducing the founder, Jennifer Conrad, DVM, who provides veterinary care for exotic animals in West Hollywood. Whether lions, tigers or domestic house cats, Dr. Conrad explains the negative effects declawing has on animals. They suffer from arthritis, inflammation and painful bone regrowth. The procedure is invasive, thus, changes the physiology of the cat. Declawing is performed by cutting off the bone where the nail grows from. This is painful for cats long after the surgery has passed. Really, "declawing" means "de-knuckling".

Besides physical ailments, declawed cats also face behavioral changes. Scratching is a natural instinct of a cat. Their claws allow them to protect themselves, groom themselves and relieve stress by scratching. Taking away their natural defense weapon can completely diminish a cat's confidence. Often, declawed cats resort to biting more often as they do not have their claws, and they experience more issues with using the litter box.

Thankfully, there is no need to worry about a cat with claws scratching up all your precious furniture. Training, along with the right equipment, is a safe alternative to declawing. Your cat will be much happier, too. After learning the truths about declawing, some cat owners have regretted their decision to declaw. Some cats in the shelter are already declawed from their previous owners, yet still need a home. We cannot return a cat's claws, but we can learn from our mistakes and prevent painful surgeries for cats in the future.

Declawing surgery is banned from over 20 countries around the world. America is not one of them; however, there are some US cities where it is illegal. How can you support the ban on declawing if it's allowed where you live? If you are a cat owner, visit for a directory of vets who don't declaw. I also recommend watching "The Paw Project" documentary. I'm not affiliated with the organization, I simply enjoyed what I learned.

When my husband and I finally visited the West Suburban Humane Society, we adopted a beautiful, adult female cat who we named Monroe. She is full of energy and curiosity― equipped by a full set of claws. It's amazing watching her play and swat toys with her sharp talons, I could never imagine choosing to declaw her. Monroe will live a good life in our care without the possibility of surgery to ever remove her precious claws.
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Title Annotation:Submitted Content
Author:Rachel Gonzales
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Jul 31, 2020
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