Someone suggested that it's better to declaw a cat so he can be adopted rather than live out his life in a shelter or be put to sleep. I can agree on the put-to-sleep part, but gosh... life in a shelter isn't so bad! At least not at the shelter where I volunteer.
The cats at our shelter have a big, warm, sunlit room where they can run loose, and they can climb custom-built kittystairs up to a series of catwalks and perches. There are plenty of big, soft pillows to lounge on, and there are cages where they can relax and feel safe when they're ill. Our kitties are fed well and given excellent vet care, both onsite and by a wonderful animal hospital nearby that does a lot of pro bono work. And no kitty is ever put to sleep unless he's in severe, unmanageable pain with no hope of recovery.
Best of all, our shelter has a huge screened porch full of cat trees, condos, and toys. The porch overlooks the front entrance of the shelter, so there's always a lot of activity for the cats to observe, and there are birds in the trees just outside, too. We have cats who have lived their whole lives there (mostly those who are hard to adopt out due to health problems, disfigurement, or age) and they seem to be perfectly happy. They're surprisingly social, too -- when you sit down on one of the benches on the cat porch, you are immediately surrounded by furry little critters lookin' for love. :-)
I'm sure there are a lot of shelters that aren't so nice, and a lot of shelter cats that don't get such good care. But I wanted to point out that living in a shelter isn't necessarily a fate worse than declawing! :-)