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The Downside of Declawing CATS

Like many cat owners, you may be fed up with finding scratch marks on everything from your floors and furniture to your curtains and comforters, cushions and clothes. And skin. But before you consider resolving the problem by choosing declawing as your only solution, be advised that declawing your cat is NOT a matter of solely removing its claws. Nor is it as simple a procedure as a manicure, or in this case, a pedicure.

In fact, it is a serious SURGICAL procedure that requires a general anesthetic. Commonly referred to as onychectomy, implying that only the claw is removed, the more appropriate term should be phalangectomy, which refers to the excision of the toe bone itself. Why? Because a cat’s claw, unlike a toenail, adheres so closely to the bone that to remove the claws on a single foot is to remove the last bone of all five toes. In other words: amputation. Not only is the operation itself extremely painful, but so is the protracted period of recovery. If “recovery” is even the proper word.

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A cat’s body is uniquely designed, allowing it to move with agility and grace, and its claws are an integral part of that design. Amputating so vital a part of their anatomy drastically alters the conformation of their feet, and since cats walk on their toes, this surgery actually changes the way their bodies work. Because of this, their back and leg muscles may weaken over time, potentially leading to chronic back and joint pain. Other complications from the procedure may include postoperative hemorrhage, nerve damage, and displaced bone chips that prevent proper healing. Post-operative care can be complicated and difficult, both for you and your cat.

Because a declawed cat must wear bandages on its paws until the incisions heal, exercise must be limited for at least one month and cat litter replaced with shredded newspaper to keep litter granules from embedding themselves in the healing tissue. Your vet may prescribe medications to help with the pain, and you must monitor your cat carefully for swollen paws, bleeding and a reluctance to walk, as well as any changes in appetite and behavior. While some cats exhibit no changes in personality after being declawed, others may become anxious, shy, or show an increase in aggression. Feeling defenseless without their claws may cause them to bite if they feel cornered. And the pain associated with the procedure may result in urinating and defecating outside the litter box.

Because scratching is as innate to cats as purring, most experts recommend other alternatives to the trauma and dangers of declawing. Keep your cat’s nails carefully trimmed and direct its scratching behavior to inexpensive cardboard scratchers, scratching posts or emery scratching pads that dull its claws. Use remote aversion devices such as Scat Mats. But if all else fails, the newest and most popular alternative to declawing is the application of vinyl nail caps, available through your veterinarian or pet store. Non-toxic glue binds the caps to the claws, and the caps are replaced when your cat sheds its claw sheaths (usually every four to six weeks).

While declawing remains peculiar to the United States, an ever-increasing number of countries throughout the world consider it both “inhumane” and a “form of mutilation” (except in the most extreme cases or for medical reasons) and have banned the procedure. In fact, a global online campaign declared March 29, 2014 as Declaw Awareness Day.

What are your thoughts on Declawing? Let us know in the comments section of this blog!

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Article by Nomi Berger

Nomi is the best selling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry and hundreds of articles. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her adopted Maltese, Mini, and now devotes all of her time volunteering her writing skills to animal rescue organizations throughout Canada and the USA.

 

STARelief’s featured Volunteer of the week – Sarah

 For us at STARelief, every pet family we help is a small victory. Yet, being a completely volunteer run organization, we are able to only do as much as time and resources allow. And this is where every additional hand that helps is a special one. Today we’d like to introduce a very special volunteer- Sarah! Sarah is a 7th grader at Bi-Cultural Day School in Stamford.  She is  twelve and a half years old and has already raised more than $1000 for STARelief! Other than fundraising for STARelief, Sarah has also been in the Stamford All School Musical three years in a row. We decided to catch up with this young star and ask her what motivates this dog and dolphin lover!
 IMG_2601What inspired you to begin volunteering and fundraising?
I started fundraising because of my upcoming Bat Mitzvah this March.
Why did you choose STARelief?
The thought that pets might not have enough to eat or people might have to give up their pets because they can’t afford to feed them made me realize that my beagle Hunter and I were very fortunate. I love that STARelief helps people and their pets.
Tell us a little about Hunter’s Help
Hunter’s Help is my way of honoring my beagle Hunter who died at fifteen and a half in September. Hunter never wanted for a treat and in fact, may have had too many!  I felt this would be a great way to honor his life.
How did you come up with the idea of a dog wash to fund-raise?
I decided to do several dog washes in memory of Hunter.  Heather from STARelief told me that Pet Valu in Stamford was always willing to help and so I decided to approach them and have dog washes to help raise the money.
What plans do you have in the future to help fund raise?
I would love to continue Hunter’s Help even after my Bat Mitzvah and help STARelief whenever you need me!Sara1
We at STARelief, are thrilled to see such young and enthusiastic supporters for our cause and thank Sarah for all her help! We hope that her example leads many more youngsters to join causes and achieve like she has!
Sarah set her goal at $1000 which, at that time seemed unobtainable.  Its amazing what one person can do! She says she was touched by the generosity of the community, especially shoppers who came into Pet Valu to just buy food, who gave so selflessly and generously when she told them what she was doing.  They enabled her to exceed her goal.  “Hunter’s tail is wagging knowing that he helped people keep their pets happy, healthy and home” she signs off!

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Article by Madhumita Ganapathy

Madhu, having grown up in a household that always had pets, fell in love with animals at a very young age. She firmly believes that until one has loved, nurtured and cared for a pet, one’s life remains incomplete. She loves writing, travelling, and meeting new people. Madhu lives in Stamford and joined STARelief as Social Media Director to lend her marketing expertise in spreading the word and creating awareness. Connect with her on Twitter @MadhuG86

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STARelief and Pet Assistance
P.O. Box 3035
Stamford, CT 06905
Phone: 203-636-0971
Fax: 203-883-0325
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