Monday 25 November 2013

Unique Camera Angle Photographing Lions

The Cat is the Veterinarian's Client

I think people forget that the veterinarians real client is the cat when a cat's owner turns up with her cat for treatment.

OK, it is obvious that a cat cannot enter into a contract with the vet. The cat's owner does that, which places her in the position of guardian and caretaker. It is a position of trust and bounded by morality. There are no professional rules to follow for the cat's owner. She just has to do her moral duty towards her cat. The moral duty may extend to a duty under statute if she acts in a criminal way towards her cat. I am referring to cat abuse.

The cat is the vet's client when treating a cat.

The veterinarian has a professional duty of care towards the cat and this is through the cat's guardian the cat's owner. The vet must also follow professional guidelines and his oath.

Sadly, from my perspective, almost all the vets in the USA are in breach of this simple duty of care when declawing cats because it is not done for the cat's benefit or welfare but for the cat owner's convenience. In fact they are probably in breach of the criminal code but are protected by convention. At the same time the cat's owner has acted immorally and in breach of common sense principles that she must act in the best interests of her cat.

I think it pays to dwell on that simple but shocking fact.

Veterinarians can do more to educate cat owners about declawing

Veterinarians don't do enough to educate their clients on the difficult matter of declawing. Specifically, they can underplay the severity of the operation and can even deliberately mislead the cat's owner.

Some veterinarians call a cat's claws "nails" for example. This hints at human nails. They are largely made up of the same substance "keratin" but they are attached to the digit in a completely different way. Then they say "removing the nails" when describing declawing is no big deal especially if the cat is very young. Poor kitten, I say.

This sort of talk is hightly misleading. Even advocates of declawing, the people at the AVMA, cannot deny that this is neither ethical nor does it adhere to the AVMA policy on declawing.

I say the AVMA are advocates of declawing. They would deny this and state that declawing is a last resort. Yet, they stand by and do nothing when vets mislead clients and declaw cats when it is obviously not a last resort but for the convenience of the cat's owner; to protect furniture. The AVMA's passive, accepting behavior of their vets obvious breaches of the guidelines supports declawing.

The human nail is not attached to the hand or foot by a bone. It is attached by tissue: the matrix and nail bed. You may have had the experience of losing a nail because it was hit by something. It just falls off.

Human Nail showing that it is not attached to bone

The claw (not a "nail") of the cat is embedded into the last phalange of the cat's toes. This phalange is a complete bone structure that is very similar to the last bit of bone after the last joint of our fingers. The claw has to be attached to the toe so solidly because it is used very vigorously. An example is climbing. You may have seen cats climb brick walls using their claws and hanging from curtain poles and such like by their claws.

Cat Claw showing how it is attached to solid bone,  a part of the toe of the cat. The picture shows an actual claw+bone that was declawed. You can see the blood.

A vet cannot remove the claw without removing all of the last phalange of the toe. Declawing is an operation that is an amputation and it is done ten times in one go (five toes of each front paw). No surprises, therefore, that the cat would be in agony but for a ton of painkillers.

So, when vets write stuff like this:

The claws of animals, like the fingernails of people are modified hair. When the front claws of cats are removed at an early age (less than six months of age) it is a minor procedure. No worse than circumcising a baby.

He is lying and misleading. My words are strong but they have to be because this vet is in breach of his duties.  A vet is in a position of trust towards his client and let's remind ourselves that the client is the cat. The cat's owner is also a trustee, a guardian and an agent on behalf of the cat. Misleading the cat's owner is a breach of trust.

I have heard other vets use the word "nail" in place of "claw". I can only conclude that it is a deliberate ploy to underplay the severity of the declawing operation that is called: Onychectomy.

The quote is from Dr Hine's website. He is a well known vet with a website that gets lots of visits. Therefore he is misleading a lot of people. There is no doubt in my mind that he has caused a lot of cats to suffer unnecessarily. He should be ashamed of himself and someone at the ineffectual AVMA should have reprimanded him by now.

Sunday 24 November 2013

How to have a good relationship with your veterinarian

It is important to have a good relationship with your veterinarian. He is obviously more likely to treat you and your cat better if you get along with him nicely. Money often motivates vets so one thing you can do is go at least once a year even if it is just for a checkup but don't be sold some sort of treatment. It is just a check up and a chance to maintain good relations with your vet.

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1. Your vet should do a health check on the cat you intend to adopt before you adopt him/her. This rule applies to purchases of pedigree purebred cats, really, because money is involved and there will be a purchase contract. You need to know exactly what you are buying. Apparently vets don't like to upset their clients ;). If a person buys a nice looking, fancy purebred cat and takes her to the vet afterwards and the vets decides that the cat is very ill, he has to provide some depressing advice to his client. He'd rather do the check up before purchase because then he'll be much more useful and proactive.

2. Vets like clear instructions. If two different family members discuss the cat's health problem with a vet and provide slightly conflicting information it does not help the vet. Perhaps he'll become exasperated or make a mistake. It will certainly increase the workload sorting it out. It pays, actually, for the cat's caretaker to have some knowledge of cat health and then that person should be the one to take the cat to the vet and provide clear instructions and responses to the vet's questions. Also the cat's owner should really have some prepared questions when attending a vet. A bit of preparation helps, and helps to keep the vet contented.

3. When making an appointment with your vet choose a mornings over late afternoons, avoid busy Saturdays and Mondays, the day after Sunday when health problems will have built up. The idea here is to try and get the maximum performance out of your vet.

4. Visiting a veteriarian is a good chance to improve your knowledge on cat health while coming away with a complete and comprehensive picture as to your cat's health with respect to the existing problem. Ask questions nicely but don't overdo it.

5. Ask about the cost before agreeing to go ahead. A dicussion on cost should include follow up visits and any medication and dietary requirements that follow - the overall cost. A clean, clear picture on the cost will avoid any tricky and possibly upsetting discussions when it is time to pay. Money is a source of disputes. Getting things clear at the beginning should avoid disputes which in turn keeps the relationship with your vet on an nice footing.

6. Keep your expectations in check and also your emotions. Taking your cat to the vet is often nerve wracking. Both you and your cat are anxious. This emotion can be a barrier to a good session with the vet.

7. Vets and their staff can become stressed when under pressure due to emergency work etc.. They make mistakes. Clients should be tolerant of some odd mistakes. Consistent low performance should mean the cat owner looks for another vet. It is certainly worthwhile searching for a vet that is genuinely good and then cultivating a good relationship. This should include praising your vet when praise is due. A card thanking her for her good work will probably pay dividends in the future and keep the relationship warm.

One last point: the cat is the vet's client. The cat's owner is the "agent" acting on behalf of her cat and in a trusted position. All decisions are for the benefit of the cat not the owner.

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