Scratching the Surface on Declawing Cats and Trying to Uncover the Reality of Martha Stewart’s Opinion on the Controversial Subject

facebook I came across a post on Facebook the other day from The Paw Project, an organization based in California that is devoted to educating the public about the painful and crippling effects of declawing on cats and is working to create legislation to abolish the procedure in the United States. In this post they indicated that pet loving mogul, Martha Stewart, advocated declawing on her Sirius XM Martha Stewart Live radio segment that aired on May 5th, 2014. They politely asked people to help educate Martha by tweeting the following message to her: @MarthaStewart – Declawing cats is NOT humane – it is outlawed in 30+ countries for animal cruelty.

Being that I did not personally hear the episode, I could not substantiate the claim but it is a topic I am personally invested in because at one point in my life I had considered having the procedure done with my cats that were destroying some of our furniture. I knew several people who had declawed cats and I was under the false impression it was not an invasive procedure. Once I did some research and realized it involved the amputation of each of the ten front toes of a cat’s paws (something that would be equivalent to us losing the entire tip of every finger at the first knuckle), I knew that I could never willingly subject my cats that I loved, and who also loved and trusted me, to something as horrific as that. Cats are born with claws for a reason and I felt I had no right to take an integral part of their body away from them for the sake of something as meaningless as an inanimate object.

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This information was all I needed to know to realize declawing was not a viable option for my cats…

That is when I decided to contact Martha – I didn’t want to believe she would advocate the procedure to a mass audience in this day and age and I wanted to know if there was more to it than met the eye. I reached out to her via email to get her side of the story and I even invited her in a very nice and polite way to share her thoughts on my blog. By this time, her page on Facebook had been inundated with angry comments and shares from animal lovers who were outraged she would encourage declawing and I told her that perhaps by speaking with me the situation could be turned into a positive by allowing a fair-minded platform to discuss in detail what the declawing procedure really entailed, how it could adversely affect a cat’s well-being, health, personality, and behavior, and what some of the alternative solutions to declawing are to deter cats from scratching and destroying furniture.

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Since nobody initially got back to me, I tried everything I could to find a clip of the radio airing and the closest thing I could find was a video from a November 2007 segment from her Martha Stewart television show in which she does a segment called “Ask Martha” where an audience member gets to ask her a question. In this case, the audience member specifically asked Martha’s opinion on declawing cats and yes, Martha did indeed give her okay to the procedure.

Based on the contents of this video, I wouldn’t go so far as to say she champions the surgery, but, in her words, if someone does decide to go through with the procedure, she offers advice that “it has to be done humanely.” (Click here to see video link and go to the 4:40 minute mark for the “Ask Martha” segment). She went on to say that although she no longer declawed her cats, that was due in large part to the fact that her cats were indoor/outdoor cats and might need their claws in defense of hawks and coyotes in her yard which is an alarming statement in and of itself.

This casual recommendation of declawing is when I became extremely concerned and put an all-out effort to contact Martha for clarification. How a procedure that is inhumane at its very core can be done “humanely” is beyond me, but since I know that her Sirius radio show combines live air talk with old video clips, I had no way of knowing whether or not Martha was advocating declawing in the present tense on her May 5th show or if it was a rerun from the 2007 clip. And naturally when I say I reached out to Martha, I know I am reaching out to Martha’s staff. I sent numerous emails to everyone and anyone related to Martha Stewart or Sirius Radio to no avail. I was either completely ignored or I got form letter responses such as “thank you for contacting us” without really answering any of my questions.

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All I can say is that my treatment speaks volumes towards Martha’s credibility and integrity. I could forgive her for advocating declawing cats at one time. We don’t always know everything and we all have room to learn and grow. Maybe years ago she didn’t have the wealth of information available that we do today and that is perfectly understandable. But, the world has changed – we have long since learned so much about things like feline diet, spay/neuter, vaccinations and so much more that we didn’t know back then. So now in 2014 with her position and stature, no, I can’t condone her comments. She is a self-proclaimed animal lover with an entire line of pet products at Petsmart. She has a staff at her disposable to do her research and she has interviewed numerous pet behaviorists and veterinarians on her various venues throughout the years of her career so I find it highly irresponsible of her to be talking about declawing in such a casual manner.

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I take one look at my precious Jazmine and I can’t imagine every breaking her trust with me to bring her to the vet to have her claws amputated. If you agree with me, I invite you to share this compelling image to help spread the word. Click image to enlarge.

Martha has a strong voice and a large audience – so much good could have come from this had she chosen to step up to the plate and given a more informative conversation about the potentially debilitating side effects of declawing rather than sweeping the whole situation under the rug hoping it would go away. I say this because not only have my emails been deliberately ignored, but someone is very carefully taking the time to remove any negative comments she is getting on facebook. Clearly she is very much aware of the bad press and that is where my frustration stems from.

When you become a celebrity, you bear certain responsibly to your fans. You know people are going to trust what you say, especially if you call yourself a pet lover and that is why I am bringing all of this up. We live in a world where everything is disposable – food, appliances, cars, and even our pets. As humans we are addicted to plastic surgery and have become desensitized to reality. Don’t like your nose? Get a new one. Have a cat that scratches? Just take away its claws. So much of what we care about now is fleeting, artificial, and superficial.

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One the best ways to deter your cat from scratching your furniture is to provide them with lots of scratching options. This multi-level cat condo that we use in our house is sturdy and has lots of vertical posts that allow the cats to stretch their muscles while scratching.

And yes, I know there are many declawed cats that live a long and healthy life and that they are well loved. I also know that many cats are saved from an eminent trip to the shelter because they no longer destroy precious pieces of furniture. And there are also certain instances when declawing is necessary such as those rare cases in which a cat has a medical problem that would warrant surgery, such as the need to remove cancerous nail bed tumors.

For those people who do elect to have it done, many of them say that their pet did not suffer or feel pain after the surgery. Maybe that is true, but since cats are prone to hiding symptoms of weakness or pain, that is highly unlikely. Since removing claws changes the way a cat’s foot meets the ground, walking for them is comparable to the painful “pebble-in-the-shoe” sensation when they stand or try to walk. This can lead to abnormal posture and movement and may even produce arthritis in the legs, which, in turn, may cripple the cat further and cause it more suffering. And some of the pain is masked by behavioral tendencies that ironically might land them in the shelter after all such as biting or litter box problems.

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Another alternative to declawing is Soft Paws. Soft Paws are vinyl tips that are designed to prevent cats from harming furniture or humans when they scratch. Photo courtesy of Pet Radio Show.com

The bottom line – I never intended to call Martha Stewart out nor am I saying that people who declaw their cats are bad. Everyone has different circumstances and it is not my place to judge. But since she has elected to let her comments slide, I felt it prudent to let my readers know that declawing a cat is a life changing, serious surgery and that careful consideration of the procedure should be taken into account before you decide to declaw a cat if that is something you are thinking of doing.

Perhaps with some behavioral and training corrections, such as a few well-placed scratching posts, you might find that declawing is not necessary. I know at our house we have a simple mindset to declawing that was born of the everyday joy, love and companionship our cats give us – if you can’t take it to the grave with you, does it really matter in the long run? And I know in my case, I don’t plan on taking any couches to the grave with me…

I think my friend and fellow cat advocate, Jackson Galaxy from Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell” sums up my feelings best in this video he did several months ago to help spread the message about the inhumanity of declawing in conjunction with the Paw Project. It’s informative, easy to understand, compelling, and the best argument I have seen to help illustrate why declawing should be banned.

Along with the Paw Project, several organizations such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States are strongly opposed to declawing. Certified cat behaviorists such as Marilyn Krieger are against declawing and  many U.S. veterinarians such as  Dr. Christianne Schelling of Schelling Veterinary Services in California and Dr. Kirsten Doub owner of Union Park Veterinary Hospital in Utah will not practice the procedure at all.

If you are still considering the procedure for one of your cats, I ask that you please do your homework first before you make the call to your vet. It is important to keep in mind that all veterinarians are NOT created equal and the policy of each clinic or hospital can be different. Read the links I have provided to follow and watch the videos. A little knowledge can make all the difference in the world and if it means you don’t have to subject your cat to an unnecessary surgery, then isn’t it worth it in the long run?

The Paw Project – Everything and anything you want to know about declawing is on this site. From informative videos, to articles, to graphic illustrations and information on what you can do to help pass legislation to ban declawing. This video alone is a must see for any cat lover and is narrated by veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Conrad who spearheaded the Paw Project:

Declawing.com – A dedicated site authored by Veterinarian, Dr. Christianne Schelling that offers in-depth information on what declawing entails, declawing alternatives, and a list of veterinarians that do not practice declawing.

Pet Radio ShowCat Fancy Editor, Susan Logan-McCracken; certified behaviorist, Marilyn Krieger; and Veterinarian Dr. Christianne Schelling elaborate at length in a shared conversation on everything related to declawing. They offer suggestions that range from how to stop a cat from scratching furniture to how and why declawing is so debilitating to cats. Click here for the full podcast.

This video from Ingrid Johnson of Fundamentaly Feline who is a certified Cat Behavior Consultant is extremely well made –  it is easy to understand and offers a quick “how to get your cat to stop scratching your couch and use a scratching post instead” visual.

Jo Singer who is contributing author for Pictures of Cats shares a candid interview with Dr. Kirsten Doub, Director of Paw Project Utah and owner of Union Park Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Doub refuses to declaw cats in her clinic and details in her interview that despite the inherent risks involved to the cat during the surgery, “this extremely low overhead  procedure is an astronomical money-maker” which is why many veterinarians continue to promote the procedure. Please click here to read.

For those of you interested in learning more about the Soft Paws product, please visit here for details.

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  1. Excellent post! I still can’t believe there are vets who continue to do the procedure in this day and age. I also think anyone who chooses to mutilate their cat for the sake of their furniture, does not deserve to have feline companionship and love. It’s an extreme position, but I don’t see how there is ever a good reason for declawing. Not surprised that Martha’s staff ignored your polite requests however. Perhaps they knew where she stood and since there is no justification for her approval of declawing, there’s nothing left to say.

  2. meowmeowmans says:

    Well done, Deb! Declawing is inhumane and barbaric. There really is no good justification for doing it, goven the wealth of information that is so readily available.

  3. Timmy Tomcat says:

    Wonderfur. I am the only one here with no claws and luckily it did not affect me negatively. Education is the answer to this problem and this post educates better than most. Thanks so much. We will help get this post spread and ask al our pals to do the same.

    • Deb says:

      Timmy – I am so glad the procedure did not affect you in a negative way. Thank you for stopping by to comment and I am so glad you found this post to be informative and that you will be sharing it!

  4. Stacy says:

    Because it seems to me Ms. Martha violates the first natural law: DO NOT treat living beings as things.

    Great post. I go round and round with my good friend Vickie (a Vet) that declawing is mutilation and should be banned; her point is that it does no harm to the animal.

    We’ve agreed to disagree (vehemently) on the subject to keep our friendship.

    xoxo
    That Woman &
    Ms. Stella

  5. Jo Singer says:

    Julia,

    I can’t believe that veterinarians don’t know what harm this surgery does to cats! I simply ruins their anatomy, forcing them to walk incorrectly- since cats walk on their toes. With the first knukcle of their toe area removed, how in the world could they walk correctly.

    Sigh- Seems that the profession needs some education as well.