Controversial Subject
July 4, 2013 7:06 AM   Subscribe

(Ontario, Canada) Other people in my building have cats. I adopted a cat yesterday. I found out today my landlord only wants declawed cats in this building. This cat has claws. Does he have a leg to stand on? Could I get evicted over this? Should I just take the cat back?

I'm not going to go get the cat declawed, and I'm well within the period where the cat can be returned to the SPCA no questions asked, I'm just really perplexed at this odd requirement in an apartment where all the furniture is mine and all the floors are hardwood. Is it worth fighting this? Lying about the cat being declawed? Right now her front claws are quite well trimmed and I plan on keeping them that way, and I doubt she could damage even, say, a watermelon with them.
posted by tehloki to Pets & Animals (23 answers total)
Is it in the lease?
posted by oceanjesse at 7:09 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

It isn't just the floors and the furniture your landlord is worried about. My cousin's cats took to clawing at the walls in her last apartment, leaving big marks. It wasn't like they didn't have a ton of scratching posts and whatnot. They just loved clawing in to the walls.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:13 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, have you considered sharing your story with a local animal advocacy group? If it's in the lease, I'd make a big stink out of this. Declawing is so cruel!
posted by oceanjesse at 7:13 AM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Does he have a leg to stand on?

No. According to,

Q6: The landlord says I must either move out or get rid of my pet; Do I?

A6: Only if the pet is dangerous, causes allergic reactions or causes problems for other tenants or the landlord, must you get rid of your pet or consider moving elsewhere as per Landlord application to terminate tenancy based on animals.

Even if you signed a lease with a "no pets" clause, if the pet is not a problem for anybody they can not enforce it; such no pets clauses are invalid under the law.

You do not have to move or get rid of the pet unless the Board issues a written order to do so.

I am not an Ontario lawyer or anything, but to the best of my understanding of it that's accurate information. The thing you want to be looking at for these sorts of things is the Ontario Landlord-Tenant Act; the Act is what matters -- it supersedes your landlord's wishes and even clauses that may be in your lease.
posted by kmennie at 7:14 AM on July 4, 2013 [12 favorites]

In Ontario they can't actually throw you out for having a pet, so I'm pretty sure they can't throw you out for having claws on a pet. I'd not mention it or worry about it.
posted by Brockles at 7:15 AM on July 4, 2013

I'm in the US, but I had no problem getting a vet to give me paperwork saying my cat was declawed when he was not. I think she saw it as the higher of the ethics.

So I always lied about this. The downside? You have to hide the scratching post on the one or two times a year your landlord needs to come into the unit.

I'm guessing if you are a decent tenant that pays on time your landlord would rather keep you around than try to skew with a decent person over cat's claws.

Personally, I'd keep the cat, if it becomes an issue look into moving.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:15 AM on July 4, 2013

If I were in your shoes, I'd keep the cat and lie like a rug. YMMV, of course. If your landlord keeps a super-close eye on everything and is the type to actually pick up the cat's paw and inspect it, or if landlord demands official proof of declawing, then you might be in trouble.

FWIW, I'm in the US, and most of the places I've rented have been lax enough that I could fudge the rules and no-one noticed or cared.

I'm in the "don't declaw" camp, so if your landlord is savvy enough to actually demand proof of declawing, (and you can't get a vet to lie for you) then take the cat back AND raise a stink.

On preview: kmennie's post seems to indicate that the landlord can't demand that the cat be declawed.

Finally: I've not had a problem with cats clawing the walls as long as they have plenty of cat-friendly places to scratch. I've got sisal and carpet cat condos as well as cardboard loungers scattered around and my crew seem happy to stick to those.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:16 AM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Enjoy your kitty, free of evil amputations.

I'm willing to bet that 100% of the cats in that building have their claws.

Says I, the person with two hideiously clawed up sofas.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:25 AM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I work for PETA's Cruelty Investigations Department and tackle this kind of issue regularly. If you'd like to memail me your housing and landlord's information, I'm happy to write to them asking them to cease this incredibly cruel policy (without mentioning any identifying information about you of course).
posted by srrh at 7:32 AM on July 4, 2013 [13 favorites]

Even in places where tenants have less protection than Ontario, pet clauses in rental agreements are rarely, if ever, enforced. It gives landlords something to use if there's an actually problem (noise, damage to common property, whatever) but if the pet isn't a problem and no one complains, nothing even happens. Keep your kitty intact, trim the claws like you intend and I doubt there will be any issue at all. If the landlord asks, I'd lie, personally, but I doubt they will even ask.
posted by Kurichina at 7:51 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is Ontario. He can't do jack. Just don't even bring it up and don't let kitty damage everything.

This is not legal advice and I am not a lawyer.
posted by windykites at 7:55 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

srrh is right on the money. Declawing cats is cruelty to animals. At the very least, your landlord should be informed that what he/she is suggesting is misguided. Tell him you'll cut off your cat's toes when your landlord cuts off his own. (Okay, don't say that, but you can think it!)

It might be that your landlord doesn't realize declawing is cruel. Maybe print out some literature for him/her to read? And then suggest, kindly, that it would be very hard for him to enforce a policy that is cruel to animals.

This is not legal advice. A lawyer would probably not tell you to ask a man to cut off his toes. A lawyer would probably recommend against that.
posted by brina at 8:01 AM on July 4, 2013

Response by poster: I've told him the cat is declawed and sent him some pics of her paws where it really does look like she has no claws (they must have trimmed them incredibly close at the SPCA). Hopefully that will be the end of this.

I did sign a tenancy agreement that says "I have no pets" but not one that says "I will never get a pet". The landlord has said I will sign a new agreement that says "I have a single declawed spayed cat" or something to that effect. It's good to know it's not actually legal grounds for any action against me unless the cat starts to cause real damage. Thanks everybody for your helpful and encouraging answers.
posted by tehloki at 8:02 AM on July 4, 2013

I am a lawyer in Ontario and help low-income people with tenant issues. I AM NOT PROVIDING YOU WITH LEGAL ADVICE! We have no relationship!

That being said, kmennie's advice is very good. I will point you to the Residential Tenancies Act itself (just to be clear, it's the RTA, not the Landlord-Tenant Act. No biggie, it keeps changing). Take a look at s.14, specifically.

The major issues that come up with animals, that I've seen, are:

-Danger. This would generally have to be proved through a problematic history by the animal(s) in question; there might be terrible laws on the books about certain dog breeds (can't remember) but that's unimportant.
-Noise. Again, your situation makes that irrelevant.
-Odor. Again, this is a matter of proof. 1 cat wouldn't be an issue.
-Number. Having an "unreasonable" number of cats/pets can be a reason to evict you. Not necessarily, but it's something to keep in mind.

I haven't seen any clients/discussions of declawing in specific, so I can't be certain about whether that kind of clause would be enforceable. My hunch is that it wouldn't. But, y'know, hunches are not worth much.

Finally, I'll just point you to The Landlord and Tenant Board's website. It's pretty handy to have bookmarked.

super-finally, if you happen to be a person with low income (25k-ish or less), feel free to call your local community legal clinic, they will help you for reals. Google could find it, or feel free to MeMail me with your location and I'll figure out who to talk to.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:03 AM on July 4, 2013

You can *say* the cat is declawed, but I wouldn't sign anything that says it is declawed.
posted by gjc at 8:15 AM on July 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

I would be surprised if he could force you to sign a new rental agreement after you are already in an ongoing tenancy...resist that until you're satisfied it's unavoidable.
posted by Pomo at 8:29 AM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Another sort of random idea--if you're not already completely in love with your kitty (which you may well be, in which case ignore the rest), you may be able to return him to the SPCA and exchange him for a declawed cat who is already there. Honestly, people who declaw their cats out of convenience are also people who abandon or surrender their cats out of convenience, so there are bound to be declawed cats in need of a good home.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:49 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Signing a document asserting statements you know to be false is, generally speaking, not a great idea.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:03 AM on July 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

Would Soft Paws be an acceptible compromise? They're little rubber tips you glue over the cat's claws so the cat can't do damage.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:04 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't sign anything unless you really have to. IANAL/TINLA, but signing something official (like a rental agreement) puts you on the spot in a way that just saying "yeah, yeah, the cat's declawed" doesn't.

As for the picture - did he insist on having one or did you send it unasked? Because, IME, the less said (or sent!) the better - volunteer only the information asked for and no more. Just keep your lip zipped unless your landlord starts getting pushy. "Least said, soonest mended" and all that.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:21 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lying about any issue is a bad idea for several reasons. In this case, for example, should it turn out that claws actually did provide your landlord with a legal hook, then your appeal to any disinterested third party would include the fact that you are a liar. You are on firm ground for not wanting to declaw your kitty. Good for you for that.

Stand by your guns. Don't weaken your stance by trying to stand behind the lie. This way you make declawing the issue, not a false statement about the terms of your tenancy.

Also, stand by your kitty.
posted by mule98J at 11:03 AM on July 4, 2013

Just go with what you've done. Keep kitteh happy with a scratch post, and use soft claw covers if it becomes an issue.

(shut kitteh in a back room if having landlord for tea)
posted by BlueHorse at 1:03 PM on July 4, 2013

Seconding the use of kitty claw nail caps. My cat hates them, but they really work and don't come off despite his initial annoyed pulling. You can buy them in bulk on eBay to have a cheap steady supply.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:41 AM on July 5, 2013

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