By February 27, 2017 Read More →

Experts speak out on declawing of cats

By KIRSTEN RENEAU

The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va.  — A recent bill has been introduced into the West Virginia House of Delegates that would prohibit veterinarians from declawing cats.

The possibility of outlawing this procedure has caused much controversy, with many people finding themselves on separate sides of the issue.

Dr. Joe Romano is a veterinarian who believes that it should not be illegal to declaw cats for various reasons. While many believe making it illegal to declaw cats will be good for the animals due to the pain of the operation, he fears this will not stop declawing.

“There’s always the fear that if it can’t be done professionally, it will be done unprofessionally,” Romano said. “There will always be the thought of, ‘Well, Joe Schmo over there can do it’ and then it’s done painfully and improperly.”

If this is passed into a law, some cats could see an end to indoor living, he added.

“One unintended consequence is cats who could be living nice, plush lives indoors could be thrown out because they are destroying furniture and drapes, and the owner isn’t going to have that,” Romano said. “Cats are thrown out because they can’t be declawed.”

He said that the decisions around the ethics of declawing cats shouldn’t be disputed in legislation.

“Do we outlaw facelifts because it’s not a health benefit? It’s the same thing, an unnecessary surgery. When done properly, all surgical procedures involve some pain, but those are controllable in a professional environment,” Romano said. “If you have it done by laypersons, you’re going to have a lot of animals suffering a lot more.”

Romano also pointed out that the bill completely forbids the declawing or tendon cutting in cats and doesn’t cover the many circumstances that can make declawing necessary.

“What if there’s a tumor on the toe of the cat? Is it illegal to cut it off? What if we have a diabetic owner prone to infections and a cat that scratches them, so they need to be declawed for the owner’s safety? A person on blood thinners that bleeds if scratched? None of that is addressed,” Romano said.

However, some people would prefer to outlaw the declawing of cats. This includes Frankie Dennison, executive director of the Humane Society of Harrison County.

“I would love that bill to be passed. We know several vets offices that are starting to refuse to declaw,” Dennison said. “Of course, we don’t do it here, and we actually recommend that they don’t do it.”

Dennison said Humane Society have seen several cats come through the facility that have been declawed, which can cause issues with litter boxes.

“Nine times out of 10, they’re arthritic from where they’ve been declawed, so it causes issues, and the owner no longer wants to deal with that,” Dennison said. “So that’s kind of frustrating that the owners are the ones who created the issue the cat is having, but they don’t want to deal with it anymore.”

Dennison thinks if more people were aware of how cats are declawed, more might be against the procedure.

“A lot of people think it’s just removing the nail and maybe the nail bud,” Dennison said. “But it’s actually removing basically the first joint of your finger, the knuckle on down, and that’s a pretty serious procedure.”

They recommend that instead owners should get nail caps.

“They’re great. We’ll show anybody how to put them on, if they want to buy them and bring them in. It’s a great alternative,” Dennison said. “Another thing you can do is clip them with nail clippers. Take them to a groomer if you don’t feel comfortable yourself.”

She pointed out there is no guarantee that an indoor cat will stay indoors forever.

“If they get out, they have no mechanism of defense. So people always say, ‘If my cat’s not going to get out, it’s an inside cat,’ but any cat can get out at anytime, and so you want to make sure they can protect themselves,” Dennison said. “They’re necessary. They serve a purpose, and I think they should keep their nails.

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