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DECLAWING YOUR CAT-YES OR NO?

DECLAWING YOUR CAT-YES OR NO?

by Dr. Carla Case-... on Mon, 09/26/2011 - 9:57am

DECLAWING YOUR CAT-YES OR NO?

Submitted by Lisa A. Yackel, CVPM, PHR

Hospital Administrator at Case Veterinary Hospital

 

As a new employee twenty one years ago,  I became exposed to the Case philosophy on cosmetic surgery.  The opinion on cosmetic surgery within the veterinary community (as well as breeders) was as varied and controversial then as it continues to be today.    

Case Veterinary Hospital has never performed ear trims.  Debarking is only done under extreme conditions where the pet is at risk for euthanasia due to a specific circumstance with the owner’s living conditions.  Tail docking is only done during a very small window when the puppy is almost a newborn and tail docks when indicated according to breed standards.  Dewclaws are removed not for cosmetic reasons but to prevent further injury at some point in the pet’s life when the dewclaw is ripped.  In general, the doctors at Case Veterinary Hospital feel that cosmetic surgery should be performed in a very limited format.  In recent years, the AKC has not required ear trims to show  many of the breeds that ear trims were standard in.  We were glad to see that trend.

 Declawing is where Case Veterinary Hospital makes an exception to their stance.  We know that behavior problems are the number one reason pets (both dogs and cats) are relinquished the animal shelters.  Cats that destroy their owner’s homes by ripping furniture, curtains, etc. are at risk for being euthanized when they are abandoned by the owners at a shelter.  At other times, the Human-Animal Bond is broken when an owner gets fed up and just boots the cat outdoors to minimize further damage to their home. 

 Our overall philosophy is to promote the Human-Animal Bond and to be the pet’s advocate, minimizing their suffering.  By having declawing available to our clients, we are often times allowing the cat to remain in his home.  That being said, we counsel all clients before they schedule the surgery on the need to keep the cat indoors if the claws are removed.  A declawed cat does not have adequate ways to defend themselves outside. We also offer solutions like cat scratching toys, confined areas of the house, etc.   We further require all our declaw surgeries to be done with a laser and provide more than ample pain medication throughout the healing process.  Performed with a laser, the surgery is less traumatic, and less painful to the cat than the standard “guillotine” method.   

We know that there are differences of opinions amongst our colleagues and with every cat owner.  Discuss with your veterinarian what is right for you and your cat.  If you do choose to have this “cosmetic surgery” for your kitty, be sure to be educated on the difference between the various surgeries and always insist on pain medication to ensure that this process is as painless as possible for your cat.   

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