Monday, July 16, 2007

Why We Don't Declaw Cats

(Contributed by Dr. Jessica Levy)

Declawing is a hugely controversial procedure. To some people it seems a routine procedure, to others it's a horrible mutilation of a beloved pet.

Jina and I have always debated declawing, whether we should even do it, and just how awful it was to continue to perform this procedure. Neither one of us would've ever declawed our own cats. As new business owners, however, we feared that if we didn't offer declaws, our surgery schedule would be bare! I felt very confident about Jina actually doing them, because her surgical skills are amazing, and she is extremely conscious of pain control.

Then this past winter, I was on my way to Israel to visit family and attend my nephew's wedding. Somewhere I came across a list of the countries in which declawing is illegal. To my surprise, Israel was one of the countries on the list. When I lived in Israel, there was not a big pet-owning population. In the Middle East animals were traditionally considered dirty, so having them in your house was quite unusual. Animals tended to often be casually mistreated or neglected. The people who frequented the vet clinic I worked at after high school were mostly Americans who had immigrated with their strange beliefs about keeping animals in the home.

My return to Israel was an eye opener! Pets were everywhere! Animals were treated courteously and kindly! When I grew up there, we used to joke about the "fur-lined streets," but those are history! The best part is that all cosmetic surgeries are now illegal, so there were Boxers and Dobermans with ears and tails. I saw restaurants putting out leftovers for the cats.

As soon as I saw that Israel was on that list, I thought, heck, if they can do it, so can we. And as of the first of the year we stopped doing declaws. Our surgery schedule has remained steady. And we can feel good about ourselves, as doctors and as the representatives of those who cannot speak for themselves.


Anonymous said...

Bravo! What a useless and unnessesary surgery!

Anonymous said...

Maiming healthy, dexterous, invaluable animal limbs is far worse than "useless and unnecessary." It is heinously cruel! (Feline) paws are delicate sensory organs, organs and organs of locomotion. The front paws of felines are almost fully prehensile and highly functional in walking, balancing, grasping, raking litter material, grooming, communicating, climbing, and performing countless other tasks of living, many of which we may not (yet) recognize!

I wish that nobody ever needed/wanted money so badly that he/she would cripple precious animal limbs for it. There are many motives fordenying and rationalizing the harm--and spinning the truth about the prima facie cruelty involved--i.e., ignorance, indifference, sadism, etc. (Sadly: "Money, unlike animals, can talk." This doesn't explain, however why many vets cripple their own cats--as KITTENS (developmentally equivalent to human toddlers)!

Helpful tip: Trader Joe's (and other pet supply stores--some on line) sell inexpensive corrugated cardboard scratchers that cats like to use ($6.99 at Trader Joe's.)

Glad about policy/practice in Israel. Gandhi had a relevant point: "One can tell the greatness of a nation and its moral progress by the way its animals are treated.

Anonymous said...

To the vets at CBAH, thank you for enacting this kind, humane, & ethical policy at your vet clinic. I hope other vets read this and follow your wise decision to not commit this cruelty to cats, afterall, aren't veterinarians under oath to do no harm to animals? The cats, I know, appreciate your stand on this issue.

Anonymous said...

I was very glad to see that CBAH has stopped doing dewclaws. I personally see no good reason for it other then the laziness of humans.

Keeping the claws of your kitty trimmed and giving them proper scratching areas almost eliminates this. If these fail, Grab a partner and use soft paws. I find that I can even do this myself if needed by sitting on the couch, and placing the cat between me and the arm of the couch, Presto! Pretty new nails that don't scratch on things.

I also find the one kitty I have without claws is more afraid when picked up, He doesn't feel safe it seems and tends to dig his back claws into whatever he can to get safe and away.

When ever I hear someone that is planning on doing a declaw, I tell them about how bad this can be for their kitty, and how to help the problem. It amazes me how many people think this is just a routine procedure that should be done with a spay.

Kudos to you guys for joining a hopefully popular trend in vet clinics!

Jennyfer said...

Bravo!!!! I'm glad to see a local vet against this horrible procedure.