I have had many cats over the years. And my furniture bears dramatic testimony to the fact that I have never declawed my cats. When I lived in Chicago, I owned a big comfy couch, upholstered in navy blue with a hardwood frame. I know it had a hardwood frame because over the years, my cats scratched the arm of the couch right down to the wood. In Wisconsin, I acquired a vintage wooden dining room set - the kind with chairs that had an upholstered seat and low wooden back with a rose carved into it. One of the chairs made several moves with me after the rest of the dining room set had been sold, because my cats decided that it made the perfect scratching post. I sacrificed one chair to save the rest of my furniture - as a scratching post, it was definitely a conversation piece, but it worked quite well for a long time. The only declawed cat I ever had, who had been declawed by his previous owner, was a very sweet and loving boy who peed all over my apartment - even into the baseboard heaters. I found out later that he'd done the same thing in his previous home. My veterinarian and I tried everything but he absolutely refused to use his litterbox. Aha!, say the people who oppose declawing, the cat wouldn't use his litter box because he was traumatized or in pain as a result of being declawed.
On the other had, I have two friends who wouldn't have a cat unless it was declawed. The two they have now are both rescues, spoiled rotten, affectionate, healthy and happy and use their litter boxes faithfully. They've never bitten the hand that feeds them, or anybody else who has petted them. My friends have a lovely home with lots of antique furniture and rugs, due in part to the fact their cats can't scratch any of it and ruin it.
Now, let's be clear on what declawing really is - it isn't just trimming the nail or the removal of the claw itself - to remove the claws, the veterinarian must amputate the end bone of the cat's toes. While plenty of declawed cats bring a lot of joy to their owners, and live good lives in their fur-ever homes, there are studies that indicate that declawed cats may be more likely - not guaranteed, but more likely - to develop medical or behavior problems compared to their behavior before they were declawed, and compared to cats that have never been declawed. But because it can be hard to find homes for adult cats (everybody wants kittens,) some cats might languish in cages in shelters for months or even a year or more, deprived of a home, because the rescue group refuses to adopt them to people who say they will declaw them. And the fewer cats a rescue group adopts out, the fewer it can rescue. It poses a genuine ethical and operational dilemma for rescuers who want to do the right thing for individual cats and also for as many homeless cats as possible.
Have you had any experiences with a declawed cat? What do you think about declawing? And, by the way, the cat pictured is Spock - he has his claws and is waiting in our free-roam cat room for a starship to come and take him home - maybe yours?