Declawing Cats Required to Rent?

November 17, 2011
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By Jean Hofve, DVM and Judith Beggs, JD   

Many landlords require cats to be declawed before they will rent to a cat guardian.* Sadly, because it’s already hard to find a place that allows pets, many cats fall victim to this unfair requirement. If you’re thinking about declawing your cat in order to find a place to live, please print out this article, show it to your prospective landlord, and ask them to waive the requirement. Landlords need to know the truth about declawing, and the property damage and legal liability they may face due to such a requirement.

Declawing is excruciatingly painful for the cat.
It involves ten separate amputations of the cat’s toes at the first joint. In other words, this catastrophic surgery amputates 1/3 of a cat’s front paws. (For more info on declawing in general, click here). Declawing severs not only the cat’s claws, but also the attached nerves, bones, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The surgery carries significant risks of lifetime physical, psychological, and behavioral consequences. Adult cats have an increased risk of medical and behavior complications; the older the cat, the worse the risk. Landlords probably do not realize how cruel this procedure is.

Declawed cats often cause far worse property damage than clawed cats. At least  15% of cats develop litterbox aversion after declawing, likely due to intermittent or chronic pain. Declawed cats are twice as likely to avoid the litterbox as clawed cats. Cat urine can penetrate and damage floors, floorboards, sub-floors, carpet, drywall, baseboards, woodwork, and furniture, creating long-lingering urine smells, and major property damage. Landlords will reduce damage to their property by not requiring declawing.

Up to 18% of cats become biters after being declawed. Increased aggression results from chronic pain. Because aggressive biting is a known consequence of declawing, requiring the surgery may invite litigation should a visitor get bitten. Cat bites  are more dangerous, and much more likely to become infected, than cat scratches. Landlords can protect themselves from potential liability by not requiring declawing.

Many alternatives to declawing exist for preventing scratching damage.
Cats can  wear Soft Claws or Soft Paws (soft vinyl nail caps). Their nails can be trimmed frequently to keep claws blunt and unlikely to snag carpet or leave deep scratch marks. Scratching posts, vinyl carpet runners, double-sided sticky tape are proven to reduce or eliminate scratch damage. For more alternatives, click here.

Cat declawing is legally declared to be animal cruelty. Eight cities in California have already outlawed it: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Burbank, and West Hollywood. Other city, state, and county governments throughout the country are considering similar legislation. These laws apply to everyone who participates in the illegal declawing of a cat in any of those jurisdictions. Landlords who require declawing could be criminally liable under such laws.

If you are a tenant who is being asked to declaw, show your landlord this article and ask them not to require it. If they don’t agree to waive this requirement, you must not rent from that landlord. Don’t agree to this cruel surgery for your beloved pet.


*In California and Rhode Island, it is against the law for landlords to require declawing

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2 Responses to Declawing Cats Required to Rent?

  1. Chris H. on May 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Someone online wrote that she was able to have the landlord waive this requirement by having her cat wear vinyl nail caps, like Soft Paws. She is also a vet tech so I’m assuming she also educated her landlord about this cruel, unnecessary surgery. This may have also saved other tenants from having to amputate their cats’ toes.

    It’s worth educating all landlords and tenants about this!

  2. icare on December 6, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Declawing is an inhumane practice! It is a god awful shame that people support and promote this, as in this situation. At one time, I had a declawed cat but that was not my choice. Someone else subjected her to this cruelty and then dumped her at a (no-kill) shelter where we found her. Sadly, she has now passed but I now have 3 cats and would never have this done. True animal lovers are against cruelty to animals in all forms. If I was someone in this predicament, I would keep searching for a place that agrees with what I was looking for and has positive/humane values I could support.

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