Sunday, 17 May 2009

Talk about wearing blinkers

I read something this morning written by a Dr Kathy Babbitt who is the owner of Lima Animal Hospital in Ohio, she is trying to dispel some "myths" about declawing. Here is her first remark: "Declawing is the removal of the end of the toe on a cat usually to prevent destruction of household items such as a couch."

Well there we go folks, straight to the heart of the matter, lets get our priorities right and prevent the destruction of the couch. Lets destroy the cat's feet instead, it's so much cheaper than buying new couches and scratching posts do make the house look so untidy don't you think?

Then Dr Babbitt makes a glorious pronouncement: "In fact, in one survey 70 percent of owners of declawed cats reported an improved relationship with their cat after the procedure." Well yes I can see that once the owner has had the toes with the offending claws amputated they're going to feel smugly content that the couch is saved, and there'll be no need to "yell at the cat", "squirt him with water" "Bop him on the head" or even stop junior from pulling his tail or his whiskers out because the claws are in the bin at the vets.

OK, lets try this one then "Declawed cats are not as effective at climbing trees as cats with claws but declawing does not prevent tree climbing." Right, lets assume the cat can shimmy up the tree using his back claws to push with, but let's not forget that most declawed cats are not allowed outside anyway so this is probably a mute point, but for those that are outdoors and are chased by a dog or some other creature (apparently coyotes kill 99.9% of cats outside that's why you should never ever ever in their entire lives allow them so much as a whiff of fresh air outside the house, unless they are in a "cat stroller" ye gads!) and take a flying leap at a tree they are at a serious disadvantage by not having the front claws to anchor themselves by to start the climb wouldn't you say?

"Declawed cats are not as effective at catching prey as cats with claws but declawing does not prevent effective hunting." She doesn't say how she knows this, perhaps she's made a study of declawed cats that have been dumped to fend for themselves on the streets.

"Myth No. 4: A declawed cat has lost its ability to defend itself and should not be allowed outside.This one is actually true. Without claws, a cat has indeed lost an important part of its defense system. I feel strongly that declawed cats should be housed indoors only." I rest my case!

Now this makes me so damned sad! "Declawed cats do not seem to realize they have no claws. They will continue to scratch ineffectively as if they did not know the difference. Studies have shown no increased biting tendency after declawing." The poor little souls "do not seem to realise they have no claws", surely cats that have enjoyed the use of their claws know when they no longer have them, the point that Dr Babbitt is missing is that the scratching reflex is instinct, they don't have the choice they just do it, I can't imagine a more pitiful sight than a declawed cat trying "ineffectively" to do what a clawed cat can do - plug in and, fat bum going from side to side, enjoy a full stretch of their entire body from toes, up their legs and through their chests and backs. (Incidentally some folks think it's hilarious to watch a declawed cat try ineffectively to strop his claws - but they are morons) Yeah OK sometimes the couch is used and we all know that couches are protected species, but equally as often a scratching post is used - if provided. Now kittens that have been declawed before they've even had the chance to realise they HAVE claws...I suppose they don't know the difference...they probably assume that the blunt little nubs they have are what they've been allotted, but I bet they also try and follow the age old activity of stropping non existent claws too. In fact I worry that all this ineffective scratching will make those amputation sites sore, chafing away at a rough surface with sensitive stumps must surely cause a lot of sore and bleeding paws. Good for topping up the takings of your friendly local vet if nothing else.

But wait...what's this about no increased tendency to bite? I have many quotes from people who think differently, here's a couple "Its been almost 5 years since the last surgery until now, Kiki hasn't been the same she shares the house with a younger male cat and her only defence are her teeth, poor Kiki got so bitter after being declawed (she had a very stuck up attitude before, but after her experience she only lets you pet her 4 times and then bites)." ( Kiki had two lots of surgery, after her declawing a claw started growing back so she was taken to another vet for a further op, she was also denied pain relief) Here's another one "When I was working at the shelter we had a couple come in one day to surrender their cat to us. Why? Because they had all 4 paws de-clawed at the same time. He was only 2 years old. They said he was the sweetest nicest cat before they had him de-clawed. After the surgery they said he turned out to be so vicious they couldn't even get near him with out him attacking. Sadly, he had to be Euthanized as we couldn't place him in anyone's home." So this declawed cat is dead! No biting there now!

Let's move on to Myth No. 6: The post-operative period involves tremendous pain.The key to alleviating this pain is to make sure your veterinarian using appropriate pain control at the time of surgery. No matter which method, including laser, is used pain is caused. The declawed cat will indeed have sore feet after surgery. The larger the cat, the more the discomfort and reluctance to bear weight. Pain relievers are often prescribed. However, this recovery period should not last longer than a week or so. Healing should be complete by two weeks.It is not normal for a cat to have chronic pain after declaw surgery. If the toes are not comfortable, the cat seems to be "walking on eggshells" after the recovery period should have been over, or seems irritable about his or her feet, a check up is warranted. Sometimes an infection is present. Sometimes a bit of surgical glue has not properly extruded and must be removed. Sometimes a residual bit of bone is creating a "stone in one's shoe" sensation and the bone must be removed. Am I just being a soft namby pamby or what? That sounds a lot like tremendous pain to me! Have you ever walked with a stone in your shoe? How many steps do you take before you have to stop and lean against a lamp post and get that dastardly stone out of that shoe? Well Dr Babbitt seems to think that a bit of residual bone might make the cat want to take his shoe off, I'd say it would! If the poor bloody thing could take it off!!! So let's get back to imagining walking in that shoe, with that stone digging in, but the shoe doesn't come off and the stone keeps on digging until lo and behold an ulcer appears, for a declawed cat this broken skin, used for digging in litter box, can be the cause of serious and life threatening infection, I know of cats that have lost limbs and lost lives through infection in declawed paws.

And finally we have Myth No. 7: A declawed cat will not use a litter box again.
It is very important that litter not get impacted in the declaw incisions during the recovery period. Shredded paper is the usual recommendation during recovery and some cats simply will not use shredded paper. The recycled newspaper litters are an excellent alternative. The only litter problem one might expect would be lack of acceptance of a new litter during the recovery period. Declawed cats do not lose their litter box instinct.

Well my friend Annie Bruce would disagree with that, she says "In three years of experience as a cat owner consultant, Annie Bruce (author of Cat Be Good) received 95% of calls about declawed cats related to litter box problems, as opposed to only 46% of calls about clawed cats—and most of those were older cats with physical ailments"

She also says "Dealing with the urine problems of a cat that cannot learn to use a litter box requires the patience of a saint. And few of us, when it comes down to it, are saints. How would you feel if your couch was totally ruined by urine? Or your carpet, pad, and floorboards stank to the point that they had to be replaced? Owners of declawed cats report the worst home repair bills. People who own clawed cats rarely experience damage as extensive as this.
Many people simply can’t and won’t face the stench of urine, and not many cat owners will let a cat destroy an entire house. In desperation, they may try to force him to live outside. When he’s outside, he is an easy target for predators"

So there you go, all those non existent problems, all those myths exploded, all those cats declawed, crippled, laughed at, dumped, dead.

Oh, and here's what that ulcerated paw would look like, you remember the one caused by the stone in the shoe sensation and a few more "pretty pictures" too
I'm sorry to those who, like me, hate the very idea and name of declawing, it's not fair to preach to the converted or add photos, but if only one person stumbles across this blog by chance and stops to think that maybe declawing isn't such a good idea then our sadness is worth it.
God bless all cats clawed and declawed, let the day come soon when all cats enjoy what is theirs by right, fully clawed paws.


  1. That is a brilliant write up !! You tell it just as it is and I hope many people read it and realise that declawing is a very cruel procedure !
    Roll on a worldwide ban and then only those of us who truly love cats, claws and all, will have the honour of having them in our lives.

  2. Hi Babz,
    Love your blog. You'd posted a comment on mine this morning; Sad Sophies blog. Tomorrow morning we're booking her appointment with the holistic vet. Praying acupuncture and/or acupressure helps this girl.

    I'm going to watch that video on youtube that you've got the link for.


  3. Babz -
    Would you allow me to reprint this AWESOME blog post on the Celebrate Claws page?

  4. Wow, yes of course! I'm flattered!