ROSE NOLEN: I understand my pets, even if no one else does

Monday, July 1, 2013 | 4:18 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — To declaw or not to declaw? That is the question as Harry Houdini is closing in on his third birthday.

Actually, I would really like to snuggle up with a cat who is incapable of clawing me to death.

Unfortunately, I can never make up my mind whether I can have him declawed or not. I can never settle in my thinking whether or not I am removing something he may require in order to survive.

Suppose I’m not around and he is approached by a large animal and needs to protect himself, I ask myself. I would feel horrible if I had deprived him of the claws that might have saved his life.

So, I go on year after year, undecided. I never had this trouble with Geronimo. Somehow, he was born knowing how to withdraw his claws when he was in the company of human beings. Unfortunately, I don’t know how you teach cats to do that.

My friends all have their cats declawed, and they don’t have an issue with it. Somehow, they know their cats are never going to encounter an enemy and need their claws to defend themselves.

But every time I look into my cat's eyes, I feel guilty.

I felt comforted last week when I ran into my old mail carrier. He delivered my mail during the 10 years my dog was alive.

The carrier has been retired for 15 years, and he still remembers my dog. He often declared that it was the most hateful dog he had ever met.

No matter how many times he came to the house to deliver the mail, my dog always barked at him. There was nothing the carrier could do to ever make friends with him.

Actually, my mother felt the same way about my dog. She complained that every time she came into my yard, the dog barked at her. Yet he spent every night on her front porch.

As indignant as she was about his behavior, the dog never changed. The fact that he was a dachshund seemed to protect him from the wrath of his enemies.

In any case, my pets don’t seem to meet anybody’s expectations. I’m the only one who seems to understand them, including Harry Houdini.

Harry seems to be very protective of his claws, but he isn't particularly anxious to use them on people. Consequently, he gets along quite well with strangers.

In fact, after he makes their acquaintance, he tends to move away and go about his business. He appears to have no intention of sticking his claws into them.

So, as far as I’m concerned I will probably continue to debate the pros and cons of having his claws removed.

This is a major decision — between me and the cat. Only time will tell.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at  

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Skip Yates July 3, 2013 | 9:42 p.m.

Give the cat the option of having your fingernails pulled....:-)

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