Should Ontario ban declawing of cats?
A petition to ban declawing cats was just heard at Queen's Park and after discussing it on the air, I received this email from a listener who is a veteranarian.
I do declaw cats... but I hate doing it. Anyone who knows what is involved wouldnt do it to any animal unless there was a very, very good reason.
Here's a perspective: I had an elderly woman who got herself a golden retriever puppy. The puppy grew up to be a big dog, and she never trained the dog. The dog jumped on her repeatedly, and the dogs inside toe caused a 4 inch full skin thickness gash on her thigh.
She asked me to remove the three inside toes on each front foot.
How would you feel about doing that?
Most would say, that's cruel. But I fail to see the difference between that, and doing a ten toe amputation on a cat. One might argue, well put boots on the dog, or train the dog. I'd say, ditto - use 'Soft Paws' on the cat, and train the cat.
(Soft Paws are plastic nail caps that are 'crazy glued' to the cats existing nails, and last about 2-3 months, and protect any surface from damage including skin). Most people however are too lazy to bother, or value a leather sofa more than a cat's ability to walk, or the fact that the declaw cannot be done without significant pain.
When I do a declaw I use a pain patch (fentanyl patch, used for humans with major surgical pain or cancer pain) and I use local anesthetics to freeze both front feet which lasts about 8-10 hours, and I use other injectable narcotics as well as injectable NSAID (like aspirin) for four days after the surgery. The cat still suffers despite this.
I worked at clinics where the vet was flippant about cats, didnt care about their pain, or that the surgery was done properly. They would remove not only the toe but the foot pad that cushions the toes. Then they'd bandage and give a minor pain shot. The cat would wake screaming and growling, biting at his feet, and would be in pain for about a week or longer. Many cats changed their personalities and became aggressive, mean cats.
I have one I adopted that had a shoddy declaw. I had to graft fat from his abdomen into each of his toes to create a new foot pad cushion as his bones (*the jagged end of the bone) had pushed through what scarred skin was left, and was poking out the foot, and bleeding. This is COMMON.
After a declaw, no matter how carefully its done, they never walk normally again. Many have phantom pains, many develop 'neuroma' a nerve sheath tumour from scar tissue in the toes. The stop using the litter box because the sharp clay sand hurts their feet. Then the cat gets euthanized for being 'dirty.
Yes, it should be banned. We have many other procedures that earn us money. We dont need declaws. for your information, I charge $324 for a declaw when added to another surgery.
Its illegal in california, england, australia, and I envy those vets who never have to torture an animal under their care!