Declawing cats is generally morally wrong.
I will argue that in general, it is morally wrong to have a pet cat declawed. My opponent will argue that it is not.
I ask that my opponent be respectful, and I will show the same courtesy.
I thank my opponent for accepting this intriguing debate.
I have broken up my opponent’s arguments into categories, and at the bottom I add my own arguments (also divided into categories).
“... but because of man's desire or love or need for house pets the cat, the dog, even the bird have all been domesticated to be "tame." The bird's feather's are clipped to prevent it from acting wild and flying off. The dog's snout is muzzled to prevent it from biting. The cats claws are removed to prevent it from scratching. “
My opponent’s first (and last) remarks basically seem to assume that the common house cat needs to be domesticated.
I don’t see how it is possible for an animal to become any more tame than this.
My greatest problems are with his use of other animals as examples of how we tame creatures.
“It could be argued that the cat does not have the right to use its claws to negatively effect the quality of life of man. The cat should not be allowed to eat the man's food and swipe at his eyes. It should not be allowed to tear up man's furniture. In exchange for a domesticated life the cat gives up its natural right to claws."
This is an incredibly weak argument.
“In exchange for a domesticated life the cat gives up its natural right to claws.”
This would make sense, for human affairs. But the cat never consented to this arrangement. The cat was never given a choice, and therefore it’s less likely that the cat “gives up” it’s claws, and more accurate to say that it’s claws are forcibly (and painfully) taken away from him.
“His good reason is that the claws are no longer necessary ...”
“If it is immoral to protect one's own property from itself by changing its nature the problem is really: it is immoral to change the nature of a living creature.
However, even if you choose to consider a cat “your property” the answer is still ‘yes‘ because the cat can feel pain- your sofa cannot. Therefore, declawing your cat causes more harm than good.
1.) Your cat's claw is not a toenail. It is actually closely adhered to the bone. So closely adhered that to remove the claw, the last bone of your the cat's claw has to be removed. Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat's "toes".
IT IS IMMORAL TO CAUSE A CONSCIOUS CREATURE PAIN
My primary reason argument that declawing is immoral is simple.
“... the claws are no longer necessary for the cat to survive or defend itself because man has let the cat into his home and into his survival scenario.”
Does the procedure itself cause the cat enough pain to reconsider?
Is it wrong to cause the cat this pain or is it justified by the resulting claw-free
Does the procedure result in a cat who is unable to survive in the wild?
Is it wrong to domesticate an animal to this degree of dependancy?
The questions involve man's understanding of domestication. My opponent believes
that cats need not be domesticated any further. I believe that domestication
should be the responsible right of the pet owner. What do the experts say?
Well, they say that the cat has not undergone as much domestication as other
domesticated animals, including work animals, and that the cat is more like
its wild-cat ancestors than other domesticated animal/wild-animal ancestor
Let's come to terms with what the term domestication means and how it applies
According to dictionary.com domestication could be
described as any and all processes necessary to cionvert or tame an animal
to live in close association with human beings as a pet or work animal, and usually,
creates a dependancy so that the animal loses its ability to live in the wild.
Basically, man changes the cats association it has with the wild by altering
its survival chances in the wild by removing the claws. This takes the cat
out of its natural circle of life position where its predators were small
prey in the wild. It makes cats dependant upon their owners to provide for
them what they would otherwise naturally provide for themselves -- food, water,
and safe non-life threatening living envioronments. We must both agree that
by ts very definition declawing a cat does: make more closely an association
with human beings, the relationship, pet, between man and cat. Declawing
can create a dependancy so that the animal loses its ability to live in the world
without such a dependancy on human beings and declawing a cat does cause
this sort of dependancy through the lowered survival chances a cat has in
the wild without its claws. So, declawing is an act of domestication.
With this definition it could be reasonably argued that simply feeding, watering,
and providing shelter for a cat is part of the domestication process. These
functions of domestication I do not believe my opponent has a problem with,
so it could be assumed that she does not have a problem with domestication, in
general, but just this particular process of domestication. I wonder if she
considers it to be an act of domestication at all? Surely with the definition
she could see how it fits.
I believe that domestication should be the right of the owner. Let me use
the example that my opponent has admitted she has no experience with: The pitbull.
I have a friend who has a pit bull. The dog is very tame and very people-friendly.
However, because the dog the *potential* to cause serious injuries to
other animals and other people, my friend uses a muzzle whenever taking the
dog into public places. The reason he uses the muzzle is because he understands
that the dog is legally his property and when claiming the dog as his pet, he
is responsible for anything and everything that goes wrong behaviorally with
his dog. Therefore, if any man is hurt or injured by the dog the pet owner,
I repeat, the PET OWNER (emphasis on owner) is responsible.
Likewise, cats have the *potential* to do harm to both people and animals and
they do. There are 22,000 reported cases of cat scratches and many more that
go unreported. Cats carry the disease that causes "cat scratch fever." Cats
also transmit the disease Feline Immunodeficiency Virus onto other pets. Pet owners
should have the right to declaw their cats because it is a safe and reasonable
procedure that affords all the same rights to pain management as a human
surgery, such as general anaesthetics during the procedure and pain medication
management after the procedure. What the result is is a better relationship
between pet owner and cat because the cat simply does not cause any more
problems with its claws. And while my opponent argues that cats do not
scratch without provokation, I personally have been scratched a number of
times throughout my life by different cats and I have never provoked them
in any way to deserve to have my eyes swiped at or my arms scratched and
The bottom line is:
The pain argument is only good if the pain of the procedure does not result
in a better quality of life and quality of relationships with the cat. Remember,
the cat is being pulled out of its wild circle of life relationship where
it preys on small rodents and vermin to be accepted as a pet and taken care
of by humans. If people do not want to make these hard domestication decisions
they should not accept the role of domestication and that of pet owner because
they will not take the necessary actions to build a harmonious relationship
between man and animal. People like my opponent are unwilling to take the
necessary steps to protect others from their animals: they will not muzzle
their dogs and they will not declaw their cats. They would rather pawn the
responsiblity off on their animals to exercise trained control over their
behavior, sadly forgetting that these animals are equipped to take the lives
of other animals and injure people whenever they choose.
My argument is simple enough:
Leave the processes of domestication up to the INDIVIDUAL pet owner because
the individual pet owner is the one who must live with their pets and be
responsible for their pet's behaviors.
My opponent seems to miss the point entirely.
"The moral dilemma we find ourselves in when considering declawing a cat is this:
Does the procedure itself cause the cat enough pain to reconsider?"
Apparently my opponent simply skimmed my list of health risks and side-effects. Here are some more facts, for the audience’s benefit (since my opponent has thus far failed to address them).
1.) Declawing is a serious, major surgery. The risk that anesthesia poses alone is enough to seriously reconsider such a frivolous procedure. Cats have bee known to die on the operating table.
2.) Clawing is not a behavioral problem -- it is a necessity and a natural thing for a cat to do. As I mentioned before, the toes are connected to all of the muscles in the cat’s feet- taking away it’s claws means it can’t flex those muscles anymore.
3.) There is a very serious risk that the surgery can result in shattered bones, hemorrhaging, bladder infection, and skin disorders (in addition to the risks I listed in my previous round).
4.) According to Warren Eckstein, a world-renowned pet behaviorist, "X-rays of the bone structure of Kitty's legs before and after declawing show a marked difference that's caused by his having to balance himself unnaturally. Without the nails, physical stress is placed on the legs, where it wasn't intended to be."
“ ... So, declawing is an act of domestication.”
“ ... because the dog the *potential* to cause serious injuries to other animals and other people, my friend uses a muzzle whenever taking the dog into public places.”
Has your friend permanently removed the dog’s teeth? No?
A responsible pet owner obtains a pet with this in mind. Anything with teeth will bite. If you do not want to be scratched or bitten, then don’t get a cat.
“What the result is is a better relationshipbetween pet owner and cat because the cat simply does not cause any more problems with its claws.”
Actually, the pet/owner relationship can be strained by this decision. During the (extremely painful) recovery period, the cat has to continue to walk around as normal, and continue to use his litter box. The sand (as sand often does) will sometimes get caught between his toes. On a normal kitty foot, this is not a problem, but during the recovery process, this can be extremely painful for a cat.
Imagine amputating your fingers, and having to rub sand in the wounds every time you went had to go to the bathroom. To a cat, this is some very severe negative reinforcement. The cat can become so traumatized, that he seeks other, softer (less painful) places to defecate: Such as closets, rugs, and it’s owner’s clothes.
“And while my opponent argues that cats do not scratch without provocation, I personally have been scratched a number of times throughout my life by different cats and I have never provoked them in any way to deserve to have my eyes swiped at or my arms scratched and hands bitten.”
Anyone who truly believes that cats attack without provocation clearly doesn’t know enough about cats.
Was the cat in question feeling threatened?
“People like my opponent are unwilling to take the necessary steps to protect others from their animals: they will not muzzle their dogs and they will not declaw their cats. They would rather pawn the responsibility off on their animals to exercise trained control over their behavior, sadly forgetting that these animals are equipped to take the lives of other animals and injure people whenever they choose.”
If people like my opponent took the time and energy to train their pets, rather than simply ripping out their teeth and claws, they would find that animals can exercise a hell of a lot more self-control than they give them credit for.
My opponent isn’t “domesticating” the domestic feline. He is shirking responsibility for the personality of his pet.
My opponent is no different from an abusive parent, chopping his children’s fingers off for coloring on the walls- and then he has the nerve to call others “permissive” for not displaying such frivolous cruelty.
“Leave the processes of domestication up to the INDIVIDUAL pet owner because the individual pet owner is the one who must live with their pets and be responsible for their pet's behaviors.”
I urge the audience to ask themselves- would this argument apply to human children?
Finally, I’d like to point out that if my opponent were unfortunate enough to live in a myriad of other countries-
“Declawing fits the dictionary definition of mutilation to a tee. Words such as deform, disfigure, disjoint, and dismember all apply to this surgery.” (Dr. Dodman goes on to describe the acute and long-term suffering that results from this procedure.)
champ1976 forfeited this round.
Since my opponent has forfeited his previous round, and this is my last, I will go ahead and sum up my argument as simply as I can.
1. It is morally wrong to harm any creature that can feel pain.
All my opponent has said in regards to this is “But we OWN them, so we can do as we please, regardless of morality,” and “The convenience declawing awards the owner outweighs the damage and pain the cat suffers.”
I have shown, in great detail, that declawing is nothing short of mutilation. For those who still think that the benefits of declawing outweigh the damages to your pet, here are some anecdotes.
Felix’s claws (or lackthereof) apparently became infected. He stopped eating, and became depressed.
"I can not tell you how many times I heard the cats come out of anesthesia screaming after a declaw. They would throw themselves around the cages, banging their faces, bandaged paws, everything against the walls and the bars. They would fly into a frenzy, ripping off their bandages and gnawing on the mutilated limbs. There would be blood everywhere, on the cage, on the cat. And the screaming would last for hours.”
“That's why the vet won't let you take your cat home for two days, because of the screaming.”
“They would only scream after they'd been declawed.”
How any "loving" pet owner can live with themselves after doing this to their companion animal is simply beyond me.
I urge the audience to consider both of our arguments, and vote accordingly.
champ1976 forfeited this round.
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