Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cat declawing: Is society mistreating its loyal felines? - By Cassie Steele

The following is a researched opinion piece by Cassie Steele. It is her opinion and not necessarily those held by The Windham Eagle. 

Are the cats in our homes being mistreated? Cat de-clawing is a common surgery, a procedure that has become societal norm, but even if the surgery is legal, the health risks and consequences that follow the surgery remain the same. 

The typical technique to de-claw cats is to amputate the last bone of the paw, which is equivalent to the amputation of the last joint on a human hand. The aftermath of the surgery is something most cat owners never see; blood and bandages, uncomfortable squirming and seizures, and constant yelping behind bars. In most cases, the cat suffers with discomfort and health issues like lameness in the paws, infections, and swelling after the surgery. Why do cat owners choose to have this surgery performed on their cats? Cats naturally need to scratch, and cats are known for tearing the carpet and furniture. "I think having to amputate bones to protect couches is really wrong”, said California veterinarian Jennifer Conrad. 

However, protecting furniture is not the only reason cat owners have their kittens de-clawed. The CDC released a statement that forty percent of American household cats carry the "Cat Scratch Fever" bacterium. Some cat owners get their cats de-clawed to prevent "Cat Scratch Fever," but in reality, the bacterium is carried by all cats, whether they are de-clawed or not. While the actual fever is usually nothing more than a small blister, cat owners who suffer from a compromised immune system can have serious side effects that range from the flu to liver failure, or even death. 

Americans are all about reform, especially in the animals rights department. Is cat de-clawing the next rising problem? Not according to vets. While cat de-clawing is a terrible surgery that results in nothing less than unbelievable pain, veterinarians do not stop advertising the surgery, because they can rake in up to five hundred dollars per surgery. So what incentive would our greedy society have to stop de-clawing? As Conrad puts it, "You can make more money as a veterinarian by being humane than by being inhumane, so just be humane." Take if from Conrad, veterinarians would not be losing significant income if they stopped de-clawing. In fact, they could gain customers who supported the ban of cat de-claw. Conrad and other veterinarians refuse to perform the surgery; but most veterinarians still perform de-claw. Eight cities in California banned domestic de-clawing, thanks to Jennifer Conrad and her comrades. 

For owners considering chopping their kitten’s toes off, consider an alternative, like Soft Paws. Soft Paws is a company that sells vinyl caps that fit over the cats' claws and blunts them. These caps prevent scratching, and are harmless to the cat. Another overlooked alternative is scratching posts. Scratching posts require more work on the owner's part because the cat owner needs to train their cat to use the post instead of the drapes. Scratching posts and Soft Paws cost fewer than fifty dollars. But pet owners continue to pay hundreds for the surgery when there are cheaper, and humane, alternatives. 

So, are the cats in our homes being mistreated? Pet owners need to take into consideration the consequences of cat de-clawing, and explore the alternatives. It is time for American pet owners to elevate their pets' interests over that of their sofas.

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