One of the biggest animal rights issues in Colorado now is the controversial de-clawing of house cats. A movement is now underway to outlaw the practice that is frowned upon by animal advocates all over the US and which is illegal in much of the free world. Advocates here include numerous veterinarians who have secured national backing from Dr. Jennifer Conrad, founder of Paw Project and one of the foremost vets in her fields.
Would-be opponents of banning de-clawing might not be limited to folks complaining about torn curtains and furniture. Opposition could come from those who worry that the cat might eat the canary, or more likely, the canary’s indigenous bird cousins in the yard and beyond. Nationally, scientists concerned about cat predation explain that cats’ natural instinct to stalk birds has become an un-natural phenomenon that a number of wildlife experts say is a major problem for eco-systems in Colorado and around the US.
A study conducted by Dr. Peter Marra, Tom Will and Scott R. Loss from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute said that cats kill between 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds per year, and many more small mammals. The data confirmed what had been believed by scientists at the American Bird Conservancy, said the group’s President, Dr. George H. Fenwick (PhD, Pathobiology) told the New York Times this year. The group’s website reports that Americans collectively own about 77 million cats which are responsible for about a third of the killings, while the rest are carried out by ferals and strays, whose numbers equal the number of cats who share homes with humans. Other animal welfare groups such as PETA acknowledge the problem of feral cat colonies, which certainly won’t be solved by de-clawing.
The Washington Humane Society is advocating increasingly-popular trap-and neuter programs, where strays are captured, neutered or spayed and returned to the wild as a long-term solution to reducing the sheer numbers of feral cats. The other component of success is responsible pet ownership, which the Humane Society says is “the only way”.
Cats currently enjoy more liberties than other domestic animals.
In most states, leash laws prohibit dogs from wandering in areas densely populated with humans, and in Colorado, specific restrictions exist for keeping such newly-popular animals as back-yard chickens. In most populated areas, cats wander freely; pet cats and strays blend into the scenery. While casts may soon find more protection from de-clawing, their rights to roam freely may be next to be restricted. Perhaps only Garfield won’t cry “fowl”.