Sunday, 3 October 2010

I'm all for Declawing - NOT!

By Stumpy the Cat

To the human-people who are interested in declawing cat-people
A few days ago I read a post by a human-person from Canada who wrote that she was all in favour of front declaw. As a cat-person who knows a bit about declawing I think she may be under a misapprehension so I’d like to make sure she knows what is involved before she makes her own appointment to be declawed.
As you know human-people have three knuckle joints on each finger, these knuckles are like hinges, they allow you to move your fingers in such a way as to be able to look after yourselves e.g. use cutlery, brushes & combs, they also allow you to work and to play. Well cat-people are not so very different, although our hands, which we call paws, look different to yours we also have three knuckles in our fingers and we use them to look after ourselves too. We use them to groom ourselves, to exercise ourselves by sticking our claws into something and having a good stretch of all the complex muscles in our legs, chests and backs (Have you noticed how our backs are always curved? Is it any wonder we need to have a good long stretch out?) We also use our fingers and claws to defend ourselves against pretty much anyone who wants to have a go at us. But we differ slightly from human-people who can balance on only 2 feet, we cat-people have to walk on our hands and feet and we use our last joints of our toes to walk on, so you can see how important our toes are, this is what makes me think this human-person from Canada isn’t in possession of all the facts. So to make it quite clear and to save her from getting a big shock when she is declawed I have asked my human-person to help me illustrate declawing.

In the first picture do you see the perfection of the hand? All that flexibility of the fingers is neatly covered in skin, ideally that skin would never need to be wounded in any way, you wouldn’t imagine cutting into it unless it was for something extremely serious would you? For example to save the flexibility of the fingers. You wouldn’t imagine cutting into such a work of art to sabotage the flexibility would you? Our paws are similar to your hands but as well as the neat parcel made of skin we also have fur covering our perfect “hands”, and we have plump pads underneath to cushion our paws for when we walk up on our toes. Really when you study hands, or paws, they are miraculous aren’t they?

Look in the second picture at what range of movement the human-person has, the right finger ends grip the pen, the other fingers on the hand fold neatly into the palm of the hand, while the left fingers hold the glass, they exert pressure on the glass so it doesn’t fall over. And they lift it to the human-mouth for her to drink from the glass. Cat-people’s toes are also useful like this; some of us like to use our toes and claws to hook up chunks of food, some of the more unfortunate cat-people rely on their claws to catch foods to eat, though the ones who are really unfortunate are the ones who have been through this declawing procedure and then found themselves having to hunt for their own food. They have no hunting equipment and no defence weapons, in short they are doomed!

But anyway on to the declawing procedure for this human-person’s enlightenment.

A human-person going to be declawed would have an advantage over a cat-person because she will know the reason why she is denied food and water the night before the op, cat-persons do not know this, they do not know what is going to happen to them until they are put in their basket and taken to the surgery where a nurse-person takes them from their human-person and put them in a cage. This Canadian-person will be put into a bed to await her surgery.

Shortly after that an anaesthetic-person will come to her and she will be given a lot of strong things to make her sleepy, among the things given to cat-people might be Xylazine which can make us vomit (and which is often used for that very purpose under other circumstances) it can also make muscle tremors, seizures, slowed heart rate and slowed breathing rate happen to us. And even worse it says that despite appearing completely sedated, cats can still move, even kick, bite or scratch, in response to sharp auditory stimulation. This is so frightening isn’t it? What about pain stimulation? Also we might be given Acepromazine which doesn’t always work if the patient is already excited and sometimes makes us aggressive.
And if that happens then sometimes Ketamine is used, that isn’t very nice as it gets sprayed into our mouths or eyes. It is a terrifying thing for cat-people to be treated like this because they do not understand. At least the Cari-person will understand.

The anaesthetic-person might also sick on her a pain relief patch, this is to relieve pain that she will not yet be feeling, but sticking it on pretty much confirms that there is going to be pain and that when that pain comes it will be too severe to wait for pain relief to be given then. Have you ever had a tooth out and felt the throb of something that isn’t there? That happens when limbs and digits are removed. Aren’t our bodies strange and complex that we can feel pain, sometimes for years afterwards in parts of us that no longer exist? These are called phantom pains; sadly these pains are all too real and well proven to exist.

Ok then, the patient is now asleep and lying down although my human-person who is demonstrating a human declawing is sitting up, she has not had the anaesthetic of course. I would not ask that of her.

So, can you see in picture 3 what happens? Declawing isn’t declawing after all is it? It is de-finger-end-ing, the human-persons 10 finger ends, along with her nails, have been amputated! They are lying there on the table quite separate to the rest of the finger. “Is this meant to be, or is this a big mistake?” you might ask, the answer would be no, it is no mistake THIS is what happens when you are declawed. Those very useful ends of our fingers are removed and thrown away!

Can you see all the blood? This is because the surgeon-person has used a scalpel or clippers to cut through all the bits inside that make the fingers work and through that perfect skin that encases and protects them. It is not always done like this. Sometimes the surgeon-person uses a strong, hot beam of light called a laser and burns through the fur, skin, cartilage, nerves, blood vessels and bone to get the finger end off. Because they are burned the blood vessels are sealed off so they cannot bleed, but they are charred instead. And the result is the same; the end of the finger or toe is gone. Some people say this method is not cruel; I would like to ask them how so? Are the ends of our toes any less gone? No.

In this demonstration though the human-persons finger ends were lopped off with a sharp scalpel so there is a lot, a hell of a lot, of blood. If you look at picture 4 you can see just how much blood there is on the bandages. When this happens to cat-people and they wake up to the throbbing pain, in a cage, thirsty, sickly, needing the litter-box and scared they sometimes try to get away from the pain not realising that it is actually in their own paw. They throw themselves around the cage and in doing so they only make their poor paws bleed all the more. Sometimes they cause what is called haemorrhaging and a lot of blood seeps out through the bandages. If there is no nurse-person there to see this and to tend to the wounds then the cat-person can so easily die. To imagine dying of bleeding after an operation that you didn’t even need is beyond the comprehension of some people, sadly it happens.

So, it is done. It is the work of maybe half an hour or so, if that, to remove the ends of our fingers but the effect is going to last us a lifetime. Human-people would find it hard to adapt to losing the tips of their fingers and so do cat-people. True enough we don’t write with pens or keyboards, or use combs or cutlery but imagine, if you will, having to use sore toe ends, or what has now become the ends of our toes to clean up after ourselves in the litter-box. And imagine trying to stretch and instead of anchoring ourselves to something with claws now we find our paws slide down and get chafed and calloused because we cannot grip. You see, the stretching and scratching instinct is born in us, I think a lot of human-people think that we do it for badness but honestly we don’t, we just have to do it to keep our bodies fit. I’ve heard that not being able to do it means that when we get older we can have awful painful problems with our legs and hips and backs. Imagine also getting up and trying to walk and finding out that you can’t walk as gracefully as you used to because your paws are different now, and imagine jumping, and falling.

Well my human-person model has adapted as well as she has been able, if you look at picture 5 you will see that she is trying to hold the pen and the glass. I have no doubt that over the years left of her life she will find a way to manage as best she can, because after all she will have no choice. And I think that this is what some blinkered human-people think about cat-people that have been declawed, they think that because they adapt and manage to live their lives that they are unaffected by the declawing procedure. They could not be more wrong. They do not realise that cat-people have millions of years of patience and stoicism behind them they are masters at making do and putting up with things, but cat-people feel pain and they feel distress and sometimes they become depressed, and sometimes in their pain and distress they cannot use their litter-boxes and human-people call them dirty and bad, and having put them through the declawing procedure, they still end up not wanting them and throwing them out. It is sad to us cat-people that we are so easily replaceable.

I hope you have found this letter useful and I hope the Canadian-person reads it and realises what is involved, I think if she does she might not be all for declawing after all and she might cancel her appointment to be declawed herself. And if that is the case and she decides that she wouldn’t put herself through the declawing procedure then by rights she should never again put a cat-person through it either. Should she?