Friday, July 19, 2013


Recently someone asked me if I would declaw Orphée because of his aggressiveness towards Annie. Orphée's attitude towards Annie has improved considerably since we took him in last December. Although he does occasionally chase, hiss or swipe at her, he barely does it at all now.  Sad to say, he did it enough that Annie is still very wary of him and I do make it a point to keep a watchful eye on his body language and facial expressions.

I would never declaw him. Most people do not realize that declawing involves removing not just the nail but part of the toe.  It's akin to removing the top of our fingers from the tip to the first joint. My choice is to work on behavior modification. That can be accomplished by a sharp "no!" a good aim and a stream of water from a squirt bottle. Orphée is getting the idea with just the verbal reprimand. I'll resort to the spray bottle if need be to finish the training.

In Orphée's case I've noticed his aggression towards Annie stems from two things - food protection and Artie ownership. Whenever Orphée thinks Annie is going to take his food he becomes aggressive. This is upsetting because Annie has always been exceptionally well behaved where food is concerned - she never takes anything she hasn't been given. The other evening Artie left a plate of ice cream unattended on the side table by my recliner where Annie routinely hangs out. She looked at the plate but didn't go near it. When Artie returned she sat silently by until he put a bit of it in her bowl. So this is all perception on Orphée's part.

The second reason - Artie ownership - is definitely territorial. Orphée bonded with Artie long before Artie picked him up, tossed him in the front hall and locked him in. It's part separation anxiety as well. Orphée sits at the door waiting for Artie when Artie leaves for any reason. If Artie goes out unexpectedly, Orphée seems to blame Annie and takes it out on her by hissing, chasing and swiping. I believe knowing the reasons is half the battle in solving the problem.

I never want to see Annie get hurt but I can't declaw Orphée since I consider it so inhumane. If you have a cat and are considering declawing, I urge you to read up on both sides of this issue and rethink your decision. The following links are good places to start:

Look at that face! I could never bring myself to declaw him.

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