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.

Image protected by copyright

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.

Sunday 14 July 2013

Your Cat Was Bitten Outside?

Raccoon taking oral rabies vaccination

America from Texas, to Maryland, to California - RABIES - seems to be in the news at the moment - early July 2013. Any cat that is bitten by an animal must be assumed to have been exposed to rabies unless the animal that bit your cat is known with complete certainty to be rabies free. The most common carriers of rabies are: skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes.

The procedure to follow is:
  • Thoroughly and vigorously wash the site of the bite wound and/or scratches urgently with soap and water and the fur around the bite to remove any saliva. You should wear gloves. This reduces the chance of the cat getting rabies.
  • The bite wound should not be stitched up.
  • Revaccinate your cat as a matter of urgency even if already vaccinated. Your cat should be confined to indoors and observed for 45 days.
  • If your cat has not been vaccinated, he should be put to sleep by your vet or he should be confined without direct human contact or contact with other animals for 6 months (strict quarantine). After five months he should be rabies vaccinated. Check the state's rules on vaccinations and quarantine regarding cats exposed to rabies.
Source: Book I listed on this page.

Friday 12 July 2013

Unwanted Cats - America Culture Wars

July 11th 2013 - America - THE CULTURE WARS - Like any country America has it cultural divisions and they run deep. I am not writing about different ethnic groups but different ideas and concepts as to how to deal with fundamental life problems and find a better way of life.

Cutlure Wars America

Take abortion: this is a classic. It is about life, human life, which is more valuable than a cat's life as far most people are concerned.

The anti-abortion lobby is having success in America in conservative states. Texas is trying to tighten the law on abortion and is having a rocky ride.

Set that against Obama's progressive national legislation on matters such as gay marriage and you can sense the cultural battleground.

The same sort of cultural war is taking place in the world of cats. Do you regulate cat ownership? Or is that the nanny state gone mad? Do you ban declawing? Yes, but it won't happen nationwide because of a deep rooted culture of treating the cat as an animal that people can do as they like with. There is a growing mass of people who want change on declawing. They say they are more enlightened. The battleground, here, is humane behaviour regarding our cats.

What about the feral cat? The stray cat? Wandering, breeding cats? There are too many, people say. There are too many unwanted cats yet pet stores still sell kittens supplied by kitten factories. Not much is being done to quell the supply chain. There are many liberal minded people who hate to see cats being sold in stores yet business refuses to stop doing it and will challenge any attempt to ban it. Another cultural war. The battleground is the high street.

There are those that want to keep killing unwanted cats at shelters. Keep the status quo. The shelters would be out of business if there were no unwanted cats. On the other side there are those who want to see a complete rethink on how to balance the demand for cats with the supply of cats and in the meantime to stop killing the unwanted cats en masse.

The current battleground of the unwanted cat war is the cat shelters. It is time for some harmony and consensus thinking.

What about cats versus birds? Bird conservationists versus cat lovers is a classic cultural war. There are others such as scientists who dislike cats and laypeople, ordinary people, who see through their bias.

Thursday 11 July 2013

Kiwi: more important than the cat (and other animals)

Setting traps that kill cats
Setting traps that kill cats. Photo: Jo Parker

New Zealand 10th July 2013: To the British, antipodeans are the inhabitants of Australia and New Zealand. All the signs are that antipodeans prefer birds to cats. Or they prefer species of animal that have been on their islands longer than other species. This is speciesism.

Bob Francis, the Chairman of the Pukaha-Mt Bruce wildlife reserve says:
"But the birds here are so, so special ... and with these predators you can never relax."
The earliest evidence of the Kiwi in New Zealand is 1 million years old (a fossilized leg bone)1. The Kōkako is endemic to New Zealand. "Endemic" means: belonging or native to a particular country. The New Zealand Kaka is a medium sized parrot. These are three endangered native birds of New Zealand.

These birds are protected in the Pukaha-Mt Bruce wildlife reserve, New Zealand by traps that kill the following animals that wander into the reserve:
  • cats - any type, domestic, stray or feral. There is a focus at the reserve on trapping cats at the moment. If a domestic cat wanders into this reserve and is killed in a trap, it is the cat owner's problem, they say. At least 40 have been killed in killing traps and some are domestic cats belonging to someone. They are family members. Isn't it a crime to kill them like this? The local SPCA (Society for the Protection of Animals) say they will prosecute people who dump their cat in the area! Who is doing that and what are the SPCA doing? They are meant to preserve animal life. Why aren't they in discussion with the people who manage this reserve? They must be biased against the cat, rabbits, rats, stout, ferrets and hedgehogs too.
  • rabbits - (61 killed) -- I didn't know they were predators of birds ;)
  • hedgehogs (400 killed)
  • rats (748 killed)
  • ferrets (18 killed)
  • stouts (55 killed)
So, the New Zealanders don't only prefer birds to cats they prefer birds to cats, stouts, ferrets, hedgehogs and rabbits.

Just so we know. What right do people have to decide which animal is more important than another?


Wednesday 10 July 2013

Chinese Cat Show of Sorts

Bengal cat at a cat show Harbin China
Bengal cat at a cat show Harbin China - Photo: NEWS.CN

9th July 2013: CHINA - Good news from China (as far as I am concerned). I sense a shift of attitude towards animals. Without wishing to be harsh there seems to be a tendency to treat animals as creatures to use rather than enjoy as companions, in parts of China. That is the impression I get from my travels throughout the internet. I have also been to China. Beijing, the capital of China has a poor history of treating stray animals. The cats of Beijing are sad.

However, following in the footsteps of India's first cat show, the cat lovers of China have arranged the national cat tour competition. One of the events takes place in Harbin. Harbin is the capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

The cat tour competition was organised by the Association of Small Animal Protection in China's capital Beijing. This has all the signs and sounds of a cat show run by a cat association and it looks like it to but the organizers are not a cat club or association, in name at least. They might be something better, a group of people who are concerned with small animal protection. They seem to be promoting their worthy and much needed cause through a cat show. There are almost no laws in China that protects animals never mind companion animals.

The Harbin event is one of many similar regional cat show events. There will be a final competition in December 2013. Cat shows and competitions can do good. They can raise awareness of the beauty of the cat and companion animals generally. They can get people to relate to cats and small animals in a different and more sensitive way. This must be a big plus for animal welfare. Perhaps the cat will lead the way to changes in animal welfare in China?

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Cat Sunburn

CAT SUNBURN -- News 8th July 2013: Murray has won Wimbledon under hot sunny conditions than extend across the UK. The forecast is for more sun and heat. Great but strange ;). Cats can get sunburned, even in Scotland! This is what happened to Luna. Scotland is not known for its hot weather but it does have its moments. Ruth aka Kattaddorra, a regular and valued visitor to PoC recently wrote about cats in hot weather. There are things we should be aware of and should do.

White cats are particularly vulnerable to sunburn because their fur has no pigmentation (melanin) which is why it is white. The lack of pigmentation reduces the protective properties of the fur. The parts of the cat's anatomy where the fur is particularly thin are the ear flaps. They are also in the direct glare of the sun at a 90° angle to it. This ensures the sun's rays have maximum burning effect.

Cats are not aware that their ears are getting sunburned. The problem can become very severe to the point where the only option is for the ears to be amputated. Removal of badly sunburned ears removes the risk of skin cancer. Cats Protection in North Ayrshire is now looking after her. She looks a bit odd. I like that. It makes her special. She deserves a nice home and some shaded resting places.

Monday 8 July 2013

Groundswell of feeling against cops' attitude towards animals

Latest news 7th July 2013: I am impressed by the groundswell of feeling and passion by the American people generated by the unnecessary and callous shooting of Max the rottweiler dog that belonged to a bystander who was videoing the police doing their work. The police took exception to him, arrested him and in the melee, his dog was shot as he approached the police.

protests against police shooting of Max a dog
Protests against police shooting of Max a dog

This has stirred up feelings about the police and their handling of companion animals. The Causes website has gathered almost 90,000 signatures in its petition to fire the officer who shot Max. Their target is 100,000. An impressive figure indicating that a lot of people have strong feelings about how individual policemen can sometimes overreact and treat companions animals in an unsympathetic way. Enough is enough. There are quite a few cases of dogs being hurt by police. Elisa regularly writes about them. Cats are abused by police too on occasion.

I hope the police take note of public opinion. I guess they won't. I don't believe online petitions achieve much but they do indicate a depth of opinion and this shooting shines a light on the feelings of American citizens about the less than satisfactory attitude of some police officers towards dogs and cats, in my opinion.

There are many other options when dealing with cats and dogs other than simply and crudely shooting them, which is often in truth a crime. Not that the police ever get prosecuted for criminal behavior.

Saturday 25 May 2013

Rethink the Domestic Cat?

I believe it is time to take stock and work out if we are actually making progress in our relationship with the domestic cat. Are things getting better for the domestic cat? My feeling is that some things are getting better while somethings are getting worse and somethings are the same but we are not progressing the relationship and a lot needs to be done to improve it.

There is and always will be a body of domestic cats that are ill-treated and become stray. As there are more people in the world and therefore more domestic cats, there are inevitably more stray cats. These are cats that have wandered away from inadequate cat owners who have failed to neuter their cats and failed to microchip them.

If there are more and more domestic cats becoming stray and more cats turned in to shelters to be killed (aka euthanised), is it not time to reassess our relationship with cats?

I have long believed that the whole concept of the domestication of the cat needs to be reassessed from the standpoint of asking the question: "is it a success?"

The smart people in the West have decided not to bring children into the world because the world sucks. It is wrong and getting worse. The unthinking ones are just breeding children and letting their cats breed as well.

We are going backwards aren't we? It seems we need to recapture some of what was good about 50 year ago for the domestic cat when there was more freedom and less traffic. Less cats. Less killing of cats at "shelters". The naturalness of the domestic cat's life in years gone by must be better than being imprisoned inside a someone's home all their life because it is safer.

For cats in the West life is becoming too artificial and in the East it is too brutal, too harsh. The more I know about the lives of domestic cats across the planet the more I see room for improvement and a total rethink.

The problem is we, the humans, have our hands full trying to solve our own problems. The ones we have created. The domestic cat is a victim and we tend to use the domestic cat as a comforter, a source of emotion support, which leads to abuse and which is not respectful of the cat.

I might be painting too black a picture but remember I have studied the cat for a long time and the more you do it the more you see room for improvement at a fundamental level.

Finally, there is one thing that is well documented: the demise of the wild cat species living in the wild. Their days are numbered.

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