FELINE VETERINARY EDUCATION & PRACTICE NEED A COMPLETE OVERHAUL AND ONGOING OUTSIDE SCRUTINY FOR ANIMAL CRUELTY
PREPARED BY HARRIET E. BAKER
AUTHOR OF THE SHOCKING TRUTH ABOUT DECLAWING CATS
Cat advocates are calling for a systemic overhaul in veterinary education relative to cat care and stewardship. A beginning would be, they submit, the removal of the flagrant misinformation from the so-called authoritative volume, The Cornell Book of Cats. This book and many others falsely state that no negative behavioral (psycological) effects of declawing have been reported. Yet, Cornell staff, themselves, reported in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, January 1, 2001, that 18 of 57 cats subjected to declawing or tendonectomy exhibited at least one behavior problem THAT BEGAN AFTER THE SURGERY: an absolute frequency of 31.57% cats exhibiting negative behavioral sequellae with no statistically significant difference in observed behavioral aberrations between cats subjected to declawing and cats subjected to tendonectomy. Two of the cats, moreover, exhibited prolonged lameness and two would not cover their feces, IN ADDITION TO (1) NOT USING THE LITTER BOX and (2) BITING WITH AN INCREASED FREQUENCY/INTENSITY. One cat had (re)growth of paw/claw tissue that was abnormal/malformed.
Note: Declawing resulted in the same high rate of negative behavioral and physiological sequellae as did tendonectomy. Neither these data nor the dramatic number of negative sequellae, per se, is acknowledged in the authors’ (peer reviewed) conclusion!
HEALTHY ANIMAL LIMBS IS INHUMANE:
Seventy percent (70%) of cats turned in to pounds and shelters for behavioral problems are declawed cats. Twenty-five percent (25%) are purebred (from a national survey obtained by Caddo Parish of Forgotten Felines and Friends).
After adjustment for other variables, i.e., in the multivariate analysis, being declawed and being mixed breed were associated with an increased risk for relinquishment (from JAVMA, Vol. 209, No. 3, Aug. l, 1996: “Risk factors for relinquishment of cats to an animal shelter”) .
Shelter records show that approximately one-half (50%) of declawed cats presented at intake are screened out as having “behavior problems,” and thus do not even get a chance at being adopted. Thus, each declawed cat adopted or waiting adoption represents approximately one other cat whose limbs, dignity AND life were taken.
(Some shelter statistics show that only 20 to 30% of declawed cats are deemed to be free of behavior problems that preclude their adoptability.)
See: (1) www.goodcatswearblack.com, (2) www.catsinternational.org (3) www.pawproject.com.
NOTE: Listing of 28 cases of reported harm following declawing and tendonectomy furnished upon request.
MRS. GRAY by columnist, Anne Raver, lamenting the declawing of her cat,
Mrs. Gray (New York Times, August 13, 1992)
“She doesn’t flex her claws anymore, in that luxurious way she had while snoozing in the sun. She’s quieter, too, like a feisty soul beaten up once too often. We’ve taken away her last wildness, the dignity that comes from power.
“We tell ourselves it’s all right to do these things to animals. We have civilized reasons, like not letting them destroy our priceless possessions. We tell ourselves how we rescued them from the streets. After all, Mrs. Gray was a stray.
“We remove their claws when hey don’t respect our possessions. But we’d call it barbaric to remove the fingers of a thief.
“Mrs. Gray comes to sit by me now. She purrs and rubs her head against my hand. I suppose I could say she has forgiven me, in which case her love puts mine to shame. But I have stolen from her and she is the lesser for it.”
DECLAWING IS NOT COSMETIC; IT IS CRUEL & UNETHICAL DISMEMBERMENT,
DISFIGUREMENT, MAIMING & PERMANENT CRIPPLING OF DEXTEROUS, MULTI-FUNCTIONAL LIMBS.
By Harriet E. Baker
Author of The Shocking Truth about Declawing Cats
The unethical, cruel procedure of crippling the healthy paws of cats (or other animals) is NOT a “cosmetic procedure.” Rather, it is amputation of toes/fingers! Such premeditated, willful dismemberment, disfigurement, crippling of healthy limbs is NOT an accepted veterinary or other practice. It is highly controversial, and the unethical, cruel nature of such deliberate maiming is becoming increasingly acknowledged.
Feline paws are highly delicate sensory organs, organs of locomotion, and dexterous limbs that allow the animal to perform countless ongoing tasks of living—i.e., walking, grasping, cuffing, holding, balancing, kneading, raking & negotiating litter material– hence, the widespread reports of litter box problems in cats with paws mutilated by declawing or other cruel procedure.
Among the noted veterinarians who have spoken out against these maiming procedures are: Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, Head of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. Michael W. Fox, author and syndicated newspaper columnist; and Dr. Jennifer Conrad, who founded the Paw Project with the mission to educate the public about the cruelty of these procedures and to repair the paws of big cats suffering the aftermath of mutilation of their precious paws.
Animal shelter staff repeatedly attest to the high frequency of behavior problems in “declawed” cats relinquished to their shelters. They compute that about half of all “declawed” cats relinquished to their facilities are screened out as having “behavior problems” too severe to approve such cats for adoption. Thus, for these countless cats, “declawing” leads to (1) behavior problems, (2) relinquishment, (3) death.
This is about cats and our responsibility for humane stewardship of all animals, not about statistics! Following is a poignant excerpt from the New York Times column of August 13, 1992, by Anne Raver
lamenting the declawing of her cat, Mrs. Gray: “She doesn’t flex her claws anymore, in that luxurious way she had while snoozing in the sun. She’s quieter, too, like a feisty soul beaten up once too
often…Mrs Gray comes to sit by me now. She purrs and rubs her head against my hand. I suppose I could say she has forgiven me, in which case her love puts mine to shame. But I have stolen from her and she is the lesser for it.”
Reports of cats’ suffering beyond the foreseeable frustration in countless ongoing tasks of living are displayed on many websites including: www.declawhallofshame.com, www.maxshouse.com,www. thecattherapist.com. I have acquired documented information on more than 30 cases of reported harm following both “declawing” and tendonectomy (sometimes touted as being a “less inhumane” maiming of healthy limbs). FOLLOWING THE CRUEL LIMB MAIMINGS, victim cats in my research collection BEGAN TO EXHIBIT one or more of the following: lethargy, hissing, biting, growling, hiding, nerve damage to paws, litter box avoidance, gangrene leading to additional limb loss including loss of entire feet.
For many years, Betsy Lipscomb, President of Cats International, Inc., has provided information on the cruelty of the maiming procedures described herein. Cats International maintains a website full of helpful information on training a cat to use a scratching post or scratcher: www.catsinternational.org, and offers free advice via a phone hotline: 262-375-8852.
The view held in most European countries is expressed in a personal letter from a German animal protection agency: “There is no reasonable argument for the surgical removal (or disengagement) of the claws of cat.”
“It’s amazing what you can observe, if you watch.”
Lawrence (Yogi) Berra