My Hero Zeus; A Case Against Declawing Your Cat

#78 Real Estate Man

Real Estate Man is in strong support of passing laws to ban declawing of cats. He feels strongly about this based on his observation of tenant/pet relationships and the unfortunate personal experience with his own beloved cat Zeus.

There is one main reason for cat owners to get their cats declawed: preservation of furniture. The few instances of cat owners taking blood thinners and fear scratching is more legitimate but rare.

According to The Paw Project 25%-43% of all cats in America are declawed. The reason stated for such a high percentage is that many veterinarians actively market and recommend the procedure without disclosing the extent of the operation and some of the harmful ramifications.

Many countries have banned declawing cats. The Humane Society of the United States opposes declawing except in rare cases when it is necessary for medical purposes, such as the removal of a tumor.

Real Estate Man’s story:

My wife and I had just purchase a small house in Center City, Philadelphia. This type of house is known as a trinity having a room on each floor as in Father, Son and Holy Ghost. This construction can minimize expensive land costs by allowing multiple single family dwellings on tiny lots. A drawback for the owners is that they always seem to be on a floor that they don’t want to be: stairs, stairs, stairs! To compensate for this odd flow in this sort of home, smart architects sometimes design the interiors with open wells between the floors. This tends to accentuate the feeling of open spaces and coordination.

Our little place on 6th St was no exception. The kitchen, located in what should have been the basement was connected to the 1st floor living room by an open well in the living room floor/kitchen ceiling. One side of the opening was an oversized window dipping down into the cut out portion of the kitchen ceiling. To protect the home owner from falling through the opening onto the kitchen below, was a waist high railing. This was our first house and we thought it was a really cool design, partially because we didn’t know any better.

We both worked and were able to buy new leather furniture to outfit the place.

We adopted one of the neighbor’s kittens.

We named him Zeus.

We stupidly had him declawed.

Our courageous Zeus use to sleep on the skinny railing around the open living room/kitchen cut out. The dining table was situated in the kitchen under the open space between the floors. One evening while another couple were having a spaghetti dinner with us I heard a soft scuffling above me. I looked up to see poor clawless Zeus slipping off the thin railing surrounding the well in the kitchen ceiling. Must have had a kitty nightmare or something. He was grappling, trying his best to hold on to the railing with clawless paws and not plunge the 10 foot drop into the kitchen and, by my calculations, plop smack on the dinner table. As with certain dramatic events in one’s life the scene seemed to be played out in slow motion.

Although Zeus tried his best by wrapping his clawless paws and arms around the railing, he was losing his hold by virtue of the weight of his body. He remained suspended like that, for it seemed minutes. It was only seconds in real time.

Zeus lost his battle and fell directly onto my plate of spaghetti adding a lifetime story for our guests to tell at appropriate times. Zeus, my wife and I had mixed emotions. There was an open grocery bag for trash on the kitchen floor. Zeus was so humiliated that he crawled into the bag, orange fur now spotted red with spaghetti sauce and noodles. I lost my appetite for spaghetti for the evening. I must confess, I regained it a few days later. My wife managed to keep the evening from unraveling but things weren’t the same that night after Zeus’s accident.

We moved to the suburbs into a ranch style house after living in the trinity only a few months. The suburban house was situated on a Pennsylvania woodlot of about 2 acres. We debated letting Zeus outside in his clawless compromised condition. For weeks Zeus studied through the floor to ceiling windows the birds and squirrels that played outside.. He looked at the outdoors so longingly. One day he couldn’t resist and bolted through a carelessly open door. He must have preformed heroically, coming back to that same door to be let in after about an hour in the wild.

I like to think Zeus lived a full life, attaining an age of 19. He grew no new claws, of course, but was a master at adapting to nature. He was able to climb trees by wrapping his arms and legs around smaller tree trunks and shimmying to safe heights. Zeus relied on his feline ability to puff his fur and arch his back, piloerection, when threatened. He appeared so large and fierce that no neighborhood canine or other foe dared challenge him. He rocked and ruled.

Although Zeus lived his life on his own terms, it must have been a feline struggle to do so without claws.

I’ve had 5 cats since Zeus, none of whom I declawed and would never do so in future cats.

Ironically, I was diagnosed with arterial fibrillation some 15 years ago. I’ve taken blood thinners since. If death by scratch is in the cards, it’s eluded my cats and me so far.

I can’t help but wonder, how Zeus’s life would have been improved with claws.

Maybe he could have been the relief pitcher the Phillies have needed for so long.

A lifetime of philosophical, psychological, physical and fiscal involvement. Above all, a storyteller. brianbarrabee@aol.com

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