I'm an animal lover at heart. In fact, while I've never owned a dog, I've always secretly dreamt of trotting through the streets of Manhattan with a King Charles Spaniel happily wagging his tail behind me. When I used to live on the upper west side and was first dating my husband (who at the time was my boyfriend), we'd walk hand and hand down West 72nd street and I'd stare longingly at the pet store window with all those spaniel puppies and would think to myself - one day, I'm going to own one of those.
Fast forward nearly two decades, and while I still don't own a dog - turns out my husband is allergic to even non-allergic dogs - I instead own cats. We first adopted two kittens when we made the move from Manhattan to Forest Hills nearly 15 years ago. Their names were Rudy and Oliver and they were a part of some of the most exciting times of our lives - the purchase of our new home, our move to Westchester, the birth of both of our children - including the time I literally labored in one of their cat beds because I couldn't find a comfortable position for myself.
Rudy and Oliver were brothers and always seemed to look out for one another. They didn't fight much. Oliver was the larger of the too and he pretty much enjoyed eating and sleeping in a comfy chair in our living room. Rudy was the friskier of the bunch and would race through the house or through our child safety gates but never once raised a paw to one of our kids.
About four years ago, we discovered that Oliver had developed liver cancer and sadly, he passed away on Christmas night (a few days after my dad had suffered a heart attack and thankfully survived). When we buried Oliver in the back yard, Rudy stood and looked out from the window of our living room to see what had happened to his faithful companion. And when we returned back to the house, he seemed utterly depressed.
We initially thought it would be great to introduce a new pet into the home and within months, we tried out a new kitten on Rudy. He wouldn't have any of it and pretty much hissed at the thing every time she attempted to sneak out of the closet she was hiding in the moment we brought her home. And so, we decided to wait a while until we tried again. And then came Hazel.
On my daughter's 10th birthday we decided it was time to bring a kitten into our home and so, we decided to adopt a kitten that was supposedly seven weeks old (we suspect she was younger because experts say that if a kitten is taken away too soon from its mother, it's destined to be psycho for life). In those first few weeks, when she stunk to high heaven and was a cute little ball of fur that would curl up in our hands, we thought she was utterly adorable. But then she started to grow. And climb the walls, our arms and our legs. At the beginning, the scratching was tolerable - out of nowhere, she'd jump on us, tear up the furniture, rip my bedding to shreds, and I dealt with it. I bought scratching posts, tape to deter her from ripping up my sofa, made peace with the fact that I'd never invest in an expensive comforter again, but all that stopped when Hazel became downright unpredictable.
You see, we can just be sitting at the computer minding our own business or relaxing on the couch and that cat will literally dig her claws into her skin as she uses one of us for a launching pad. Last week, my brother was stunned when she pounced on his arm, ripped his shirt and drew blood. But this weekend took the cake when my daughter, who was engrossed in a nintendo DS game (Mario Superparty something or other), let out a blood curdling shriek while I was about to smear some low fat vegetable cream cheese on a whole wheat bagel.
Before I knew it, the bagel went flying with me into the den. And as I investigated the situation, the side of my daughter's face had two long gashes and her scalp was bleeding too. To say I was incensed, enraged and upset, was the understatement of the year. As I cleaned her wounds, I instantly called the vet to figure out how we could finally stop Hazel from wreaking havoc upon my kids and my home. As she's getting older, she's not getting tamer. She's a total psycho and I've concluded that I've got three choices: declaw, trim her nails or attempt to cover those sharp weapons with plastic coverings. Incidentally, I've tried trimming and covering her nails and she's so skittish, I get about one nail done and she takes off for the hills.
So what would you do if your cat attacked your child and potentially left marks that could permanently scar their face? To declaw or not to declaw, that is the question?