Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Controversial Topic

Poll: Most American pet owners okay with declawing cats

The Associated Press
Tuesday, February 15, 2011; 5:09 AM

LOS ANGELES -- Cats scratch and dogs bark. Is declawing or debarking the answer?

Nearly 60 percent of American pet owners, including 55 percent of cat owners, say it is OK to have a cat declawed, but only 8 percent approve of having a dog's vocal cords removed, according to an Associated poll.

Experts say both surgeries are painful and alter the way the animals walk or talk.

Declawing a cat "is amputation. If you look at your fingers, declawing would be like amputating the last section of each finger. If you were declawed, you would have 10 little short fingers. It's amputation times 10," said veterinarian Louise Murray, vice president of the Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City. The hospital is part of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Read the rest of the article

This is one of those topics that can spark some intense debate among pet owners, veterinarians, and animal welfare groups.  

Most people don't really get into the debarking issue. It is illegal in some places, like NJ, unless deemed medically necessary (some vocal cord tumor, for example - RARE..never seen or even heard of one personally..but...). It came about because drug dealers like to have guard dogs that they debarked so as not to alert would be intruders, police, etc and then boom, someone gets bit! Yeah, nice people right?

But declawing is a much more common procedure that comes up. I know vets that will not do this procedure. It is their right to choose that. 

I do them and have 6 cats (including a 3 legged - front leg missing - cat) that are all front declawed. I can assure you none of my cats are in pain, suffering or lame or mutilated.  You wish you were one of my cats in fact..ugh. If I think about last night alone, I'm wondering if I should learn how to de-meow! (just kidding..please!).  

First of all, I do encourage this to be done at a young age - at the time of spay or neuter - one anesthesia, the kittens heal better the younger they are AND they are smaller (less weight on those healing feet). It does involve removing P3, which is the final bone at the tip of the toe. That is where the nail grows out of and if you don't remove all of it, guess what? Sometime in the future, including YEARS later, you will get nail regrowth - often at an odd angle and maybe through the pad, etc.   

Is it painful? Yes. We use pain medications during and after surgery. Spaying is painful too but I don't see anyone arguing about that.  Ear cropping is very painful but breed standards STILL dictate that a Great Dane or a Doberman have them done. Personally, I think the dogs are CUTE as heck with ears!  

I HAVE done them in older cats - with caveats to the owners that it WILL take longer to heal - especially if they are (and often they are) FAT cats.  I have done ALL FOUR paws but only in VERY special households - diabetic owners, owners on blood thinners or on immunosuppressive drugs or with cancer/HIV, etc. This is not a large number of cats by any means. Even people with these issues, often find that the rear claws do NOT cause a problem.  

As with any procedure you can have complications but it's also dependent on the surgeon AND on the post-op home care (and if the owners follow instructions as to litter type and making sure kitty isn't licking and chewing at her feet!). 

Here's my issue: this is totally up to the owner and their veterinarian and a discussion of risks and issues for EACH INDIVIDUAL situation. Well, in West Hollywood, CA, they have OUTLAWED this. Yes, they are NOT veterinarians (though they have some vets that support them). BUT this is the government getting involved in what should be a medical decision between a client and a veterinarian.  Who are they to decide that? You know what? I love my cats. Anyone that knows me, knows they are spoiled and I've totally rearranged my house, my life and even lost HOURS of sleep due to them but I can't go through couches and I work hard for a decent home. If a cat is clawing through my furniture (and they were AND let me tell you that ALL the scratching posts, herbal sprays and squirt guns, etc do NOT always work), would it be better for me to give kitty up or have her declawed?  A dangerous precedent has been set by this city council to dictate what a veterinarian can and can't do.  It's a slippery slope my friends.  And be aware of the same in the human medical world too!
Leave the medical and surgical decisions up to those best trained to know - veterinarians and pet owners. 

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