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.

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