Monday 28 September 2009

Cat and Boy in True Harmony

Here is a video of a cat and a boy in true harmony. This is special because the cat is the world's tallest domestic ("pet") cat (official, Guinness World Records) and the boy is Andreas Stucki the son on Martin and Kathrin Stucki who raised both the boy and cat.

I made the video with video material provided by Kathrin. For the technically minded the camcorder was a Flip HD. See the video in large format here: A Close Relationship Between Cat and Boy.

I think this is perhaps my favorite video (that I have made) because of the simple and palpable chemistry between these two. I think that this sort of video (if I may say so) helps to show how our relationship with other animals can and should be on a general level -- meaning more respectful.

We need to do lots more, as a species of animal ourselves, to learn to live harmoniously with other species on this planet rather than using and abusing them, which doesn't always happen but it does happen a lot nonetheless. The wildcats are gradually but with great certainty, I think, heading for extinction in the wild. This is because of us and our activities.

The video is a testament of how fantastically well socialised this cat is. She is an F1 Savannah cat called MAGIC but I guess you know that as she is pretty famous. It is also a testament of how comfortable Andreas is, with what is a pretty big cat, almost the same size as him!

Update: I want to show a video I made of Andreas sister Leonie with Magic too. This is fair. Here it is:

MAGIC is now lives with Lee and Kim Draper of the Bella Gattini Cattery(new window).

From Cat and Boy in True Harmony to Wild Cat Hybrids

Sunday 6 September 2009

F1 Savannah Cat MAGIC

I'll keep this short. Gotta show you this cat from A1 Savannahs. She is F1 Savannah cat MAGIC and the name is particularly good as this cat is pure magic. Is she the biggest domestic cat - not sure what are the rules for that accolade? But she is big and of so very beautiful. There is a heady mixture of the exotic, the domestic, the energetic, the intelligent and very wild at heart about her.

This is a rare mix in a domestic cat. Her father is a Serval and her mother a Savannah cat. Here is the video:

You can see it in large format here: MAGIC -- MAGIC is now owned by Kimberly and Lee Draper. Their cattery is Bella Gattini Cattery and MAGIC is at their high street shop (a world's first). Get along and see her! This page tells you more about the Savannah Cat Shoppe.

From F1 Savannah cat MAGIC to Home Page

Sunday 16 August 2009

Somali Cat “Chase”

When I look at the picture below of a classy, ruddy coloured Somali cat Chase I think of the good ole US of A and Oklahoma. And the Oklahoma wind. Heavens, it blew a gale, a warm gale for hour after hour after hour. Here is the effect it had on the doors of the show hall (I made it into a short horror film!):

Yes, these are heavy doors and they all blew out and back in unison. And then there is that scream…….! Man it was strange and scary.

One of the stars of the show (this was the Thunderkatz show in April 2009) was this little character;  Somali cat “Chase”. He is a ruddy Somali cat. Somali cats are long haired Abyssinians. And as I like foxes..well you can understand why this fella appealed to me.

As I recall he was well behaved and he takes a nice photo too. Of course he would being as handsome as he is!

Here is the video I made of Helmi and Ken photographing this foxey character, Somali cat Chase:

As bit about the Somali cat:

First this boy is ruddy coloured. The ground colour is “burnt sienna” (sounds like a colour of matt paint you buy at the local DIY shop!). The colour is glowing and gleaming and Helmi captures this beautifully.

The Abyssinian (the shorthaired version of the Somali and the more commonly seen cat) is known to be a bit of a performer and that seems to be present in Chase.

In America the overall shape of the Somali is considered more important apparently than the colour and quality of its coat. This cat breed is elegant, slender and strong. The body type is called “foreign” – see cat body types if you like.

The ears are large and the head foxey (my description). Technically it is a modified wedge (cat fancy speak to mean wedge shaped but with rounded corners!).

The defining characteristic of this cat, though, is its ticked coat. This is a tabby cat without the tabby markings, well almost. There is a vague vestige of a pattern on the tail and the head (the classic “M” tabby forehead is present but softened). The agouti gene is at work and the hair shafts in a ruddy Somali are banded with that burnt sienna, and black (what Gloria Stephenson calls the “indicative colour”).

Other colours are blue, sorrel and fawn and it just so happens I have a video of some blue (and ruddy) Abyssinian kittens being photographed too:

Both the Abyssinian and Somali are agile graceful climbers. They are intelligent and love to play.

The Somali should look exactly the same as the Abyssinian. Long haired Abyssinians were not wanted and were a by product of Abyssinian breeding caused by a hidden recessive gene that produced long hair – heavens forbid. Until someone decided how nice they looked and a new cat breed was born. And a very nice breed they are too.

See more cat videos here: Broadsurf’s channel: Pictures of cats.

From Somali cat Chase to Home Page

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Good Veterinarians Must Speak Out

The good veterinarians must speak out. What I mean is that the veterinarians in America who do see the cruelty in declawing cats and who do not carry out the operation need to provide courses and educational seminars for the public about declawing.

I don’t see this happening. I can understand why. It is totally understandable. They are in the minority and they might (probably would) alienate other vets. They might become outsiders in their own profession.

See lots more articles on why declawing is fundamentally wrong: Declawing Cats

And it is far better financially speaking to remain inside the group. But and this is a massive but, the good veterinarians who don’t speak out and try in a decent way to stop declawing, are undermining their own consciences. Indirectly, they are condoning it. In regards to such a profoundly abusive medical procedure as non-therapeutic declawing of cats the good and enlightened veterinarians who genuinely have the care of animals at heart (unlike the monsters who declaw) owe a duty to their patients to speak out.

This could, for example, take the form of giving seminars. Why not? The vet could charge a modest fee and present the facts about declawing to owners who were thinking of declawing their cats. There must be a large number of people who are unsure about it who simply need some clear guidance.

There is a lot of misinformation out there and very little really good research. All the vet has to do is to present the known facts, which can be summarised as follows:

Declawing is unnecessary. There is lots of evidence that tells us it can cause serious medical complications but we need further sound and objective research. Because of the real potential to cause short and long term complications that are unpredictable for any individual cat a vet should not carry out the procedure. The better course of action is to respect the cat for what he or she is and adapt to the cat’s behaviour and enjoy that behaviour. If that cannot be contemplated another animal as a companion should be chosen.

It a few hundred vets started educating the public about declawing by telling the truth (I am not asking vets to do what the AVMA does and peddle half truths and misrepresentations) then the gradual change away from this hideous practice would begin.

In lieu of that the only force for change can come from legislators who ban declawing at the local level - for example the West Hollywood ban. Come on good veterinarians you must speak out. The cat is looking to you for help.

From Good Veterinarians Must Speak Out to Home Page

Friday 7 August 2009

AVMA Misrepresents the Reasons for Declawing

Here is correspondence between a colleague of mine, Susan Woodhouse, and the AVMA in 2007. This is correspondence about surveys on declawing. The AVMA muddy the declawing surveys to suit their objectives and misrepresents the reasons for declawing. The true AVMA reason is to continue the practice for financial profit. However, one consistent argument that the AVMA puts forward for declawing is that it prevents relinquishment of the cat and therefore saves lives. This is incorrect. In addition to the arguments presented by Susan below please also see, Declawing kills more cats…. Susan says:

..note they cite a study where 1 in every 3 declawed cats having a behavioral problem is not "statistically significant" to matter! And another study where vets were asked to "guess" how many of their clients would relinquish without declaw! Absolutely NO protection, voice, or justice for our fellow felines!

ME (Susan Woodhouse):
AVMA, Regarding the statement, "Scientific data does indicate that cats that have destructive clawing behavior are more likely to be euthanized, or more readily relinquished, released, or abandoned, thereby contributing to the homeless cat population", I was wondering if you could provide me with the scientific data that you've found that cat scratching leads to relinquishment, etc for research for a declaw website that I am working on. I have only found that, according to the “Top Ten Reasons for Pet Relinquishment to Shelters in the United States" survey done by the NCPPSP, destructive behavior / scratching is not listed as a reason cats are relinquished from their homes but “house soiling , a common behavioral effect of broken down, declawed paws, is listed as a prime reason for disposing of a pet cat. This survey seems more reasonable since it is much easier to curtail natural scratching (trimming, training, Soft Paws) than it is litterbox issues.

We are in the process of completing and getting ready for publication a very extensive review of the peer-reviewed literature pertaining to onychectomy in cats. Part of the reason for doing this extensive review is frustration with all the misinformation that has been presented with respect to this procedure (on both sides of the fence). With respect to your specific questions regarding relinquishment and objectionable behaviors…the following information may be of value. Please understand that this information only touches the tip of the iceberg of what information is available.

  1. Relinquishment… In a 1991 survey of Ontario veterinarians (Landsberg, 1991) respondents indicated that approximately 50% of their clients would no longer own their cat if it had not been declawed. A comprehensive review performed by Patronek also showed that unacceptable behaviors increase risk of relinquishment to shelters (Patronek, 1996). Daily scratching was shown to increase risk of relinquishment, and declawing to decrease risk of relinquishment.
  2. House soiling… A survey of 57 owners of onychectomized or tenectomized cats reported that 3 of 18 (16%) ten ectomized and 13 of 39 (33%) onychectomized cats developed at least one behavioral change following surgery (including house soiling, increased frequency or intensity of biting, or refusal to cover feces), but the difference was not statistically significant (Yeon, 2001). Six of 39 (15%) onychectomized cats house-soiled following onychectomy (Yeon, 2001); however, because the overall incidence of house-soiling in cats (clawed and declawed) has been reported to be 16% (Morgan, 1989) there does not appear to be an increased risk of house-soiling following onychectomy. The study addressing risk factors for relinquishment of cats to animal shelters (Patronek, 1996) did not identify a statistically significant difference in aggression or inappropriate elimination between declawed and clawed cats.

THANK YOU for taking the time to respond to my question. I really appreciate it because I know how busy you must be. I reread the studies you sited in your response, and found some interesting points, such as in Dr. Patronek study where he found that in the multi-variate analysis, declawing was associated with increased incidence of relinquishment and in the Landsberg study where it said only 4% of the cat owners themselves said they would have relinquished their cat if it wasn't declawed, versus the 50% that Dr. Landsberg guessed in the survey.

I believe this is the exact kind of frustrating misunderstanding of this issue that you referred to in your email! I'm so glad to hear the AVMA is taking a serious look at cat declawing because much of the public is becoming disheartened & disillusioned since declawing is being sold as routine cat care by so many veterinarians, and even included in "preventive health care" packages like Banfield is doing, with absolutely no education being given to the human client about how natural & normal scratching is for felines, the short & long term realities of the surgery, and the easy alternatives that allow humans & cat claws to coexist without any scratched flesh or furniture.

I'm hoping the AVMA knows of any studies/surveys of vets documenting the number of cat parents (who requested declaw) who were sent home on a "30 day waiting period" so to speak, with education about the surgery and the alternatives, and who actually came back for surgery versus how many were educated & enlightened. Or studies of actual numbers of cats that were truly relinquished because a vet refused to perform the surgery. I'm also trying to find how much more financial profit vets make when they don't declaw cats and sell regular nail trims over the life of the cat, plus sell nail trimmers, cardboard scratch pads, etc out of their offices. Do you know of any statements or studies that contain this information? I can't find any.

Also, I found 2 other studies/surveys done in 2000 about how many cats are relinquished due to litter box problems with HUGE statistical differences than those relinquished for claw issues. These both confirm that litterbox issues are the number one behavioral reason cats are relinquished from the home. It seems to me that, considering the anecdotal evidence that declawing increases the likelihood of litter box problems, and these high percentages of cats relinquished because of house soiling behavior, veterinarians have even more reason to discourage the surgery and counsel/educate their human clients about the humane alternatives if keeping the cats from being relinquished from their home is truly their goal.

According to "Behavioral Reasons for Relinquishment of Dogs and Cats to 12 Shelters" (Salman, Hutchinson, & Ruch-Gallie) in the Journal Of Applied Animal Welfare Science 2000, "soils house" was the #1 reason cats were relinquished from the home, and "aggression toward people" was #3.

  1. Soils house=43.2%,
  2. Problems between new pet & other pets=18.9%,
  3. Aggressive toward people=14.6%
  4. Destructive inside=12.4%,
  5. Aggressive toward animals=12.4%,
  6. Bites=9.2%,
  7. Disobedient=5.9%,
  8. Euthanasia for behavioral reasons=5.4%,
  9. Unfriendly=5.4%,
  10. Afraid=3.8%

According to "Reasons for Removing a Cat from the Household" (Ralston Purina 2000) as tabled in the article "Indoor Cats, Scratching, and the Debate over Declawing: When Normal Pet Behavior Becomes a Problem" (Grier & Peterson), The State of the Animals III:2005, "Eliminating Outside the Litterbox" was the #1 reason cats were relinquished from the home, and "biting people" was #2.

  1. Eliminating Outside the Litterbox=33%,
  2. Biting People=14%,
  3. Intolerant of Children=11%,
  4. Scratching People=11%,
  5. Destroying Household or Personal Items=8%

p.s. Regarding the Landsberg study that you mentioned...if the AVMA considers this survey as scientific evidence where vets were asked to guess how many of their clients would relinquish their cats if they weren't declawed, wouldn't it be fair to amend your position statement where you state there is "no scientific evidence that declawing leads to behavioral problems" and include the national shelter survey information that says 70-80% of cats relinquished with stated behavioral problems are declawed?

Even vets like Dr. Patronek have stated in JAVMA "Some cats may also exhibit behavior problems in the longer term, including soiling and aggression. We have no idea what the frequency of this is, or how to identify cats at risk". There are many vets, and many humane shelter workers, cat consultants, cat parents, and animal behaviorists coming up with this same conclusion - declawed cats use their teeth more and their litterbox less!

From AVMA misrepresents reasons for declawing to home page

See also: Declawing Cats for lots more links and AVMA Policy on Declawing Cats

Thursday 6 August 2009

Banfield Veterinary Group Policy on Declawing

The Banfield Veterinary Group Policy on Declawing is inhumane, horribly wrong, misleading and a denial of the truth. It should be brought up to date immediately. Their policy is to condone declawing of cats for non-therapeutic purposes (to stop the cat scratching the furniture). Kim Van Syoc, Senior Communications Specialist for Banfield tells us the reason for their policy, which I summarise below (I cannot quote verbatim as it would be a breach of copyright so this is a fair and accurate summary but there is a link to the original article just below).

The Banfield Policy:

Banfield perform declawing operations if they believe that a cat can't be trained to stop using its claws to scratch furniture or they pose a danger to family members. She says that not all cats are amenable to "behaviour modification". She says that fewer cats will be abandoned and euthanised if the cat is declawed. Recovery is very rapid, she says, leading to a stronger bond between cat and person. {note: Kim Van Syoc, Senior Communications Specialist for Banfield calls declawing "onchiectomy"}

This is totally misleading and simply incorrect. They follow the AVMA policy on declawing cats which is also wholly inhumane.

Firstly, it should be pointed out that onchiectomy is the castration of a man! It is not declawing which is onychectomy. If this is a direct quote from Miss Syoc, which I am told it is, then she doesn't know much about declawing does she? The original posting on is here (new window). It may have been changed as a result of this article as it is very embarassing.

Secondly, the concept of training an animal to do what we want is incorrect. If we don't like what a cat does we shouldn't keep a cat - simple. That one act of not keeping a cat would reduce the feral cat problem massively over time. So vets encourage irresponsible ownership by declawing. They foster the idea and encourage the notion that we can modify a cat's anatomy to suit us. That debases the animal and leads to more abandonments and an arrogant approach to cat keeping that is wholly against the interests of the cat's wellbeing. Banfield, you are encouraging bad behaviour in people who keep cats. You encourage the wrong people to keep cats.

Question to Kim Van Syoc. Even on the basis that your policy is OK (which is obviously is not) how do you manage it? Do you ask people about how they tried to train their cat? No. Do you instruct them how to train their cat if what they are doing is incorrect? No. Do you even check if they are training their cat? No.

"Behaviour modification" needs to be directed at the people not the cat. It is the people who need to be trained. Trained to stop seeing the companion cat as a "possession" to do with as we please. These people are getting confused between a cat and a sofa. One is living and the other is dead. The former feels pain and the latter doesn't. Got it!

It is false to say that declawing prevents abandonment. This is just something the veterinarians peddle around the place to support their mutilation of companion cats. They use it as the main argument to justify this inhumane behaviour. In a scientific review of research into complications of declawing surgery it was found that:

"..........declawed cats were at an increased risk of relinquishment"

Gary J. Patronek, VMD, PhD: Assessment of claims of short- and long-term complications associated with onychectomy in cats.

Please read this Miss Kim Van Syoc: Declawing cat kills more cats.

Finally, there is no definitive scientific evidence (and vets must work from science and not hearsay) that cats recovery rapidly after declawing.

In conclusion Miss Syoc your arguments are worse than poor. They are misleading and the Banfield Veterinary Group Policy on Declawing results in the mutilation of innocent animals and encourages irresponsible cat ownership leading to more mass slaughter of unwanted cats that are already slaughtered by the millions in America every year.

July 29th 2010: Please sign the petition to change Banfield Veterinary Group Policy on Declawing - Petition

From Banfield Veterinary Group Policy on Declawing to Home Page

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Declawing Cats Kills More Cats

The often repeated mantra of people who have their cats declawed is that it saves the lives of cats. Veterinarians also use this argument and probably (almost certainly) use it when justifying the unjustifiable, the declawing of a cat to prevent furniture being scratched. What they mean is that but for the declawing of cats, they would be given up and euthanized.

There are two counter arguments to this that come to mind. The first comes from a report that is available on the American Veterinary Medical Association website. It is a research project conducted by Gary J. Patronek, VMD, PhD called: Assessment of claims of short- and long-term complications associated with onychectomy in cats.

Dr. Patronek went over previous research projects to try and answer the question as to whether there were short and/or long term consequences of declawing of cats. In fact he found out that there was no research project that provided a clear picture, which meant that American veterinarians were carrying out a major and serious operation on the whim of the cat's owner with reckless disregard for the outcome - bizarre but true. I will take the liberty of quoting him verbatim:
It seems unthinkable that an elective surgery performed on a quarter of owned cats could lack definitive evaluation, but that appears to be the case. (2001)
However, the point I want to make is that in his review of the earlier research when a variety of factors are taken into account (called multivariate analysis - meaning multiple variables are taken into account when analyzing the findings) he states that:
"..........declawed cats were at an increased risk of relinquishment"
What he saying is that cats that were declawed were then at a greater risk of being given up to shelters. This is the exact opposite of the often quoted and false argument that declawing cats saves cat's lives.

Here is another point and this may be what Dr. Patronek's research was getting at. I say that declawing cats kills more cats. Lets assume that we wake up tomorrow and declawing is banned. A brave new world arrives. The people who have bought or adopted cats on the basis that they will have them declawed give up their cats. These are the people who feed the declawing business (a $20 billion dollar business by my reckoning). They want cats but don't want cats. They want an animal companion that looks like a cat but that does not act like one.

Immediately after a nationwide declawing ban there would be a huge number of cats given up. There are over 20 million declawed cats in the USA. Millions of cats would therefore be euthanized as a result of a declaw ban - initially that is. And this is the point. All the people who would have had their cats declawed (about 20 million of them) would no longer keep cats. We know that the people who request declawing are the wrong kind of people to keep cats - that must be a given. People who request declawing are prioritising furniture over the health and wellbeing of their cat. That shows us where their priorties lie. They are the kind of people who give up cats on a whim. They must be the kind of people who are more likely to give up their cat on the simple basis that they value furniture over the cat's health.

These irresponsible owners would be out of circulation. Over time the number of cats given up and then euthanised would be reduced dramatically. As about 2 or more million cats are euthanised each year in the USA, over time there would be considerably less cats killed. There is no doubt in my mind that declawing cats kills more cats as it feeds the concept that cats are inanimate objects to do with as we please. It creates a carelessness of ownership of cats. It devalues and debases cats and fosters irresponsible ownership which is the absolute underlying problem that faces us all in regard to the wholly unacceptable state of affairs that is the yearly mass slaughter of cats in America.

Note: As I have said previously, I have a high regard for America and the American people but I am justifiably critical of what I consider to be a blind spot for the American people - the declawing of cats for non-therapeutic purposes.

Note: the best way to introduce a ban on declawing would be gently and progressively, which is what may happen in any case. This would allow people time to adjust and there would be less cats given up. There would be a gradual change in culture that would help the cat companion.

See more articles on declawing cats.

From Declawing Cats Kills More Cats to Home Page

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