In 22 countries, it is illegal to declaw cats -ÔÇô but it is still allowed and quite common in the United States. The surgery typically involves amputating the last bone of each toe; imagine cutting off the tips of your fingers at the last knuckle. Declawing causes pain and discomfort to most of the cats who undergo the procedure, with arthritis extremely common.
Even cats who don’t experience complications from being declawed can become aggressive, as their main method of self-defense has been removed. This includes my own cat, Bubba Lee Kinsey. I had Bubba declawed when I was 18 years old, before I knew the truth about what the procedure entailed. Bubba is an amazing creature and my best friend, but his random acts of violence against me and my friends earned him the nickname Bubba the Merciless ÔÇô- and me several trips to urgent care to treat infected wounds.
Despite the many challenges declawed cats (and their families) face, many adopters, fearing the destruction of their furniture, will only consider living with a cat if she has been declawed. That’s why Rosanne Malusa started networking on behalf of declawed cats via her Facebook page, Declawed Cats for Adoption/NY Area. Malusa hopes that if a cat who has already been declawed gets adopted, it will prevent another kitty from undergoing the procedure.
“My hope is that someone who has decided they will only have a declawed cat will find one that needs a home instead of subjecting a cat to the horrific surgery of declawing,” she says. “Declawing maims their paws forever. Most cats will suffer some kind of discomfort or pain for the rest of their life after this surgery.”
Malusa started her Facebook page after she began photographing pets and networking for her local shelter in Long Island last spring. She needed to place a soon-to-be homeless Maine Coon who had nowhere to go, and the task proved extremely challenging. She called 35 local rescues, but it seemed that no one had room for the kitty. Then Malusa received a valuable piece of information.
“One kind woman who loaned me a cage and gave me advice asked if he was declawed, because that would make it easier to place him,” Malusa says. “I suppose if some people have the choice when adopting of declawed or not, they will choose declawed with the thought being that their furniture will not suffer. I filed this thought in the back of my mind.”
Malusa figured that there are millions of potential adopters in the New York City area, many of whom are looking for a declawed cat ÔÇô- and many of whom end up paying a vet to have their cat declawed. By searching primarily on Petfinder, Malusa compiled all of the declawed cats she could find and posted them in a central location on her Facebook page. By networking, she has helped spread the word about great adoptable cats like Bobbie, who is threatened by other cats due to being declawed. He would do best as an only cat or with a docile or submissive second cat. Learn more about Bobbie here.
Naturally, Malusa’s rescue efforts have evolved to assist more cats in need. She recently helped save two kittens who were abandoned in a shopping cart outside a pet store, and last November, she was part of the team who came to the rescue when a kitten fell down a drainpipe on a cold, rainy day. The tiny cat was 45 feet down, on the edge of a 100-foot drop into a drywell. Thanks to the efforts of many individuals — including a master plumber, the police and fire departments, people networking for help, and one man who sat next to the pipe for 10 hours — the kitten was eventually freed.
“The kitten would have died if all of these people had not banded together,” Malusa says. “After she was rescued, she was named Piper and adopted by a lovely family.”
In addition to helping declawed cats find homes, Malusa is also passionate about encouraging people to foster cats and dogs. This, she says, is one of the most important things people can do to ensure homeless animals are adopted and will make great pets, because “training for most dogs is as necessary as food and water.” She has also recently begun trapping and spaying or neutering stray cats to help prevent animal homelessness in her area.
“The homeless cat situation is tremendously out of control, and there aren’t enough of us to help,” Malusa says. “Foster homes would be incredibly helpful, as well as other volunteers. Please donate to your local cat organization that is doing TNR [trap-neuter-return] or helping to find safe forever homes for homeless animals.”
For more info, visit Declawed Cats for Adoption/NY Area.
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About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.