If you've checked out our website, you may have noticed that we do not adopt out cats to people who have the intention to declaw them. Have you ever wondered why that is? Here's a list of 5 reasons why your cat needs their claws:
1. Cats are natural hunters. Their retractable claws provide them with traction while running and help them catch and hold onto their prey. While indoor cats don't need to hunt for their next meal, the practice of hunting and chasing is still an instinctual part of your cat’s behavior.
2. Claws allow your cat to explore safely. A cat’s claws are curved to help climb up trees and other surfaces to get to safety. For indoor cats, their claws allow them to grip items such as cat trees or furniture, so they don’t fall or slip.
3. Cats love a good stretch. Being able to grip items, like your carpet, allows your cat to twist and stretch the full length of its body, which is not only a good form of exercise, but it’s also a great source of enjoyment for your cat.
4. Claws help cats to communicate. When cats scratch an item, they leave behind a special scent produced from glands on their paws. This allows a cat to leave its signature behind as a message to other cats.
5. Claws are important for a cat's safety. A cat’s claws act as a method of self-defense when faced with a predator. While indoor cats have little need to defend themselves, their claws still offer the security of knowing they have a form of protection. Cats also use their claws to communicate certain messages, for example swatting to communicate the need for distance.
Declawing is a big surgery that is usually not beneficial to a cat. At Roy and Cher's Rescue Farm, we do not declaw any of our foster cats and do not adopt them out to those who have the intention to declaw.
Social Media Community Manager
Pet or Animal Companion?
How do you refer to the animals that you share your home with? Roy, my ninja panther, is my companion. And I’d say that the house that I pay a mortgage on is more his than mine, as he spends 24/7 of his life there. He is family, and my friends and my mom will often refer to him as “my boy.” I never call him “my pet” or “a pet.” The word “pet” dates back to the 16th century and can be traced to Scotland and Northern England. It was originally used to refer to “a domestic or tamed animal kept for companionship or pleasure.” But the meanings of words can change and I, amongst other animal geographers and individuals who advocate for animal rights, feel that the word “pet” does not necessarily have the same meaning it had in the past centuries. My master’s research focused a lot on how humans interact with non-human animals (yes, humans are animals), particularly domesticated animals, and what most research found was that the term “pet” tends to imply control, ownership and objectification of a non-human animal. When “pet” is combined with “owner” it recalls an era when animals were regarded as “property, machines or things to use without moral constraints.”
The alternatives are the terms animal companion or companion animal. Many animal rescues, including the Toronto Humane Society, academic journals, and even veterinarians try to avoid the term “pet” and use the alternatives to refer to the animals that you share your home with. I don’t completely condemn the use of the word pet, as long as is it used respectfully. Even though many people consider themselves “owners” of “pets,” they don’t necessarily view their companion animals as property. Whatever term you use to describe the non-human animals you share your home with, we hope that you appreciate them as much as they appreciate you.
Angela Dawn Parker, MSc
Founder & Director of Operations
By Heather MacIntosh
As a city dweller who had always dreamed of living on a farm, when I had the opportunity to move out of the city, I didn’t hesitate. With time and patience, a sweet little 43-acre farm came into my life and I took possession in November of 2016. The property was in quite a state of disarray, all of the outbuildings were falling down and the house was rather a mess, but I had high hopes and a lot of possibly insane plans to get things back in order, get a couple of horses, and a LOT of cats.
Getting to know the community involved checking out local businesses and restaurants and one of the first places I went to eat was the South Glengarry Restaurant, and one of the first things I saw there was a poster from Roy and Cher’s Rescue Farm looking for barn homes for cats. This seemed like perfect timing and I contacted Angie and asked for a passel of pussies to start the process of bringing my abandoned old post and beam barn back to life. The first opportunity was an ambitious one, seven cats being relocated from Bainsville where they were being fed by an older person who could no longer care for them. She had not been able to trap, neuter/spay and relocate them. Do, Re, Me, Fa, Sol, La and Te came to me from the vet clinic in two batches, the boys, Re, Fa and Sol first, followed by the girls, Do, Me, La and Te, a couple of weeks later. The process of “teaching” essentially feral cats that this big barn was their new home was something I knew nothing about and I went about it with a lot of calls to Angie and Anastasia, a Roy and Cher volunteer and a lot of time on the internet! Unfortunately, these cats were far smarter and more cagey than I and Re, Fa and Sol quickly escaped from their enclosure. Thankfully, the food in the barn was enticing enough that they didn’t leave. Of course, I didn’t know this because they were hiding in my hay loft, for a LONG time. I was sure I had failed and the cats were doomed to wander lost for eternity. Well, that didn’t come to pass but what I did learn is that caring for a colony of barn cats, many of whom were feral when they arrived at the farm, is not all about cuddling and purring, in fact, when a feral cat purrs, it likely means that they are in pain, not looking for love.
Over time, all but very few of the cats that have been relocated onto the farm have become more “tame”. By this, I mean, they allow me to pet them when they are eating their morning and evening meals and some, not many, will allow me to put them in a carrier for trips to the vet. I have learned about how to trap a cat that needs a trip to the vet, how to slip medications meant for one into food that is isolated while I keep watch that the right cat gets it, and I have learned how to use a series of extra large dog cages to create a tolerable containment space for cats who are transitioning from living in an unsafe place, usually on the streets of Montreal, Ottawa or Cornwall, into being a part of a barn colony. Over time, some cats do not stay. Fa, for instance, leaves every summer and comes back every winter. The first time he left, I was sure I would never see him again, but, every year, he shows up when the wild mice and voles dry up and he’s looking for a warm place to sleep and a reliable source of food. I wish I could put a little go-pro on him and keep track of his adventures. Other cats have been lost to predators and one to a tractor injury. The life of a barn cat isn’t always easy and it isn’t nearly as safe as living in the house. And yet, the cats who come to me are not cats who would do well living in a house…trust me, I bring them in if I can trap them when they are sick, and they are miserable! And so, I do the best I can for them. They are fed, they are loved-in as much as any of them will allow, sometimes from a distance. They live in a warm hayloft far off the ground from any predators and now they have Bear, the Livestock Guardian Dog, a big Great Pyrenees puppy, who does her best to keep predators at bay. She does a good job of keeping the coyotes, fishers and other predators—including some rather vicious raccoons—out of the barn and away from the part of the property inhabited by the cats, horses and people.
As a person who has always had rather fancy hypoallergenic cats, Cornish Rex and Sphynx mostly, that never leave the house, I am learning about the joys and heartbreak of loving the cats that have been lost, abandoned, dumped and, in some cases, those that others have actively tried to kill. For instance, Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern came to me from a neighbourhood in Montreal where a person was actively poisoning cats. I am learning about loving the cat that takes months to allow you to be in the same space with it while it eats. I’m learning about loving the cat with no tail, the cat with one eye, the sisters that hiss at you until you step out of their bubble. I am also learning about letting go of the need to make everything perfect and to focus in on their health and safety. Each one is named and known and each one is cherished.
I think this set out to be a “how to guide” for managing a barn colony of semi-feral and feral cats but I suppose it has turned into a story about coming to love the animals that have been dumped, ditched and considered unloveable. These cats, even the ones that hiss and hide, have taught me a lot about how to love even those that have been left by the side of the road. Our 17-year-old Cornish Rex house cat, Sophia, died in July of this year. She had had a pretty privileged life and we shed many tears when it was time to let her go after a long period of decline. And yet, as I held Re, who I had only just begun to be able to pet and talk with, after he was hit by a tractor, and the vet made it clear that he would not survive, I wept just as many tears. Under sedation and pain medication, which was required for the examination and X-Ray, I was, for the first time, able to hold him, to tell him that he was loved and cherished, and that his short life touched mine and those who are a part of MerryMac Farm.
When the inevitable question—do you have room for one or two more?—is asked, around kitten season, each year, I always try to make room for one or two more, because I know that each Re or Fa, Beatrice and Benedick is a life of value and deserves to be spared a short life of endless reproduction, running from predators and hunger.