Sunday, June 19, 2011

Quick and Cheap hummus

I ran out of hummus the other day. Bummer. I love putting it on bread rather than another spread, it's low in fat and high in protein. Have you seen how expensive it can be? Are you kidding me? It's so cheap to make it's ridiculous and it takes about 5 minutes. Here's the recipe...

Plain hummus, add more spices or whatever you want for more flavor...

1 14 ounce can garbanzo beans
OR about 1 cup of dried beans that you've soaked overnight, drained, added 4 cups of water to, and cooked (bring to boil and then simmer for about 2 hours.) This gives you about 2 cups of cooked beans. Add about a cup or so of their cooking liquid. Dry beans are even cheaper than canned.
1/4 cup tahini. You'll find it in the peanut butter section. This is sesame seed paste.
2 TBSP flax oil. You can also use olive oil, grapeseed oil, or even canola, but flax is best.
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped, more if you'd like.
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin. I like more than that, I use about 2 1/4 tsp in mine.
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth. Add garlic, red peppers,spices, or anything else you'd like to make the hummus more flavorful.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Do it yourself cat tree

I just had to post this, it was on the "Life with Cats" website. This was billed as a "college cat tree" but my husband pointed out that there was no beer cans involved so that couldn't be right!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Research paper: Banning Convenience Declawing

I'd promised to post the research paper when it was finished and proofed.  I ended up getting a 98% on the assignment and have now corrected the errors that took points off.  I hope this paper does some good for the cats in this country.  Thanks for your interest.

Banning convenience declawing
April, 2011

From the increasing popularity of pet spas and pet day care “camps” to the billions of dollars spent on premium food, toys, accessories, and treats, Americans show that devotion to their animals continues to grow. Most pet owners treat their animal companions as family members and would never purposely hurt or disfigure them. Yet some owners hurt and disfigure their cats by declawing them. Convenience declawing is done for such non-medical reasons as “we just got new furniture”, “we don’t want to take the time to train the cat”, or other reasons that have nothing to do with the welfare of the cat. This controversial surgery is considered as cruel, painful, and mutilating, though it is still performed by many vets in the United States. More humane vets educate clients about non-surgical alternatives rather than providing declawing. Official policy statements against declawing have been issued by numerous national and international animal welfare groups and veterinary medical associations. Pet owners are wise to question the ethical position of vets that offer elective declawing strictly for the convenience of an owner and not for medical reasons, as vets have pledged to alleviate animal suffering and not to cause it. There are a few medical reasons to declaw a cat such as an owner having a compromised immune system, or if a cat has injured a paw so severely that the claw and lower toe must be amputated. However, most declawing surgeries are requested to keep the cat from possibly clawing in the future. A ban on declawing for owner convenience should be supported because the procedure is cruel, mutilating, and painful for the cat, because there are non-surgical alternatives to keep the cat from scratching, because most medical and animal welfare organizations publicly oppose the procedure, and because there are already proposed and enacted laws in the US and abroad to prohibit the surgery unless it is medically necessary.

Owners are frequently told that declawing is a simple procedure and is easily done. But declawing is certainly not a simple and routine surgery such as spay and neuter. (Broder, 2003) “It seems there is a big difference between neutering to prevent unwanted animal births and performing a surgical mutilation for our own comfort.” (Ben Shaul, 1994) Declaw surgery is complicated and extremely painful and is often the cause of medical and behavioral complications. Declawing is so cruel that it is termed “inhumane” and an “unnecessary mutilation” in England, where it is banned. The entire toe is amputated up to the joint, including the claw, the bone, nerve, joint capsule, collateral ligaments, and all of the tendons. The surgery consists of “ten separate, painful amputations of the third phalanx up to the last joint of each toe”. In human terms, it would be having each finger cut off at the last joint. (Schelling, Technical Facts) The recovery is long and extremely painful, and the rate of complication is very high compared to other surgeries, fifty percent of the declawed cats had one or more complications immediately after surgery. (Feline Onychectomy at a Teaching Institution: A Retrospective Study of 163 cases, 1994) Using a laser rather than a knife does not change the level of pain or the result of the surgery, though some vets try to convince their clients otherwise. Vets that have spent upwards of forty-five thousand dollars for the laser machine frequently promote declawing in their practices. (Jan's Kitten Kids) Veterinary Doctor Nicholas Dodman said that partial digit amputation (declawing) is so horrible that it has been used as torture for prisoners of war. (Syufy, Declawing: Disclouse and Wait, 2011) The cat is designed to walk on the portion of the toes which are cut off during declawing. Removal of the last joint of the toe changes the animal’s balance and gait. This change of gait causes later arthritis and pain in the paws, shoulders, and spine.

In addition to the pain of amputation, the declawed cat is likely to exhibit behavioral problems that may lead to the animal’s surrender for euthanasia. Aggressive biting and litter box avoidance are common problems in declawed cats surrendered to shelters. While cats with claws are surrendered to shelters for human-related issues such as the owner moving and not being able to take the cat, declawed cats are surrendered for behavioral problems. Most declawed cats that entered shelters were euthanized because of litter box issues. Animal behaviorist Carole Wilborn quoted a study of a Delaware animal shelter that found “more than seventy-five percent of the cats turned in for avoiding their litter boxes had been declawed.” (Wilbourn) Other shelter studies report percentages of declawed cats euthanized for behavioral issues as higher, some as high as ninety percent. (Goldstein) Veterinary colleges do not even teach the ethics of declawing along with the surgical technique, nor do they teach the new vets the possibility that the surgery itself often leads to problems that end with euthanasia.

Scratching is a normal behavior that provides psychological comfort to the cat. “Vet students should learn the long term effects, along with why the cats need to scratch, along with their anatomy lesson.” (Syufy, Anti-Declaw Advocates Score Major Win: What Lies Ahead on the Declawing Front?, 2011) Cats relax through kneading with their claws extended. Claws additionally allow cats to climb and to fully stretch out their legs and back. Through scratching with their claws, cats also create a visual and scent identification mark, and condition their claws. (Swiderski, 2002) Scratching behaviors are instinctive to the cat. Humane alternatives to declawing surgery allow the clawed cat to enjoy these behaviors and still live in harmony with home furnishings. Nail trimming will lessen damage from scratching, synthetic feline facial pheromone sprays artificially mark territory and lessen the cat’s desire to mark with claws, and scratching posts and mats provided to the cat preserve furnishings. Behavior modification training and use of anti-scratching items also teach the cat where it may or may not scratch. In addition, easily applied plastic nail tips called “Soft Paws” protect all surfaces from the cat’s claws. Each or a combination of alternatives will eliminate the cat scratching on furnishings and other household items, solving the issue with little effort from the owner and without declawing.

A small percentage of declawing supporters say they would surrender their cats if they could not declaw them. Yet owners in countries which ban the procedure have millions of companion cats. The owners in non-declawing countries have no choice but to train their cat, provide alternative solutions such as “Soft paws” and scratching posts, or not adopt at all. Inconvenience of the owner for a time does not begin to compare to the pain and behavioral issues of the cat recovering from the amputation of its toes. The AVAR (Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights) notes that “some veterinarians have argued that some people would have their cats killed if declawing was not an option. We should not, however, allow ourselves to be taken 'emotional hostage' like this. If a person really would kill her or his cat in this case, it is reasonable to question the suitability of that person as a feline guardian, especially when there are millions of non-declawed cats living in harmony with people.” (Syufy, Are there any states in USA where declawing is illegal ? Which ones?, 2011)

Declawing is considered so cruel that numerous animal and veterinary groups have issued statements against the procedure, especially for non-medical reasons. The leading animal welfare organization is against declawing. “The ASPCA is strongly opposed to declawing cats for the convenience of their guardians. The only circumstance in which the procedure could be condoned would be if the health and safety of the guardian would be put at risk, as in the case of individuals with compromised immune systems or illnesses that cause them to be unusually susceptible to serious infections.” (ASPCA) Some other organizations that have issued similar public policy statements are: the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR), Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA), World Small Veterinary Association, Humane Society of the United States, American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (Sturges, 2005), and the American Humane Society. Even the public position statement of the American Veterinary Medical Association says that declawing should be “considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing provides a zoonotic risk for its owner(s).” (Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2003)

Though the American Veterinary Medical Association says in their position statement that declawing should always be a last resort, (Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2003) some member vets continue to declaw strictly for owner convenience. Departing from its own published position statements, the organization continues to fight efforts to ban convenience declawing. Declawing for non-medical reasons also contradicts the Veterinarian’s Oath in which the vet pledges to relieve animal suffering, not cause it. “I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.” (Journal of the American Veterinarian Medical Society, 2004) One vet commented, “As a profession, are we not giving a mixed message to the public in advocating companion animal health and welfare on the one hand and not abandoning such practices that are considered unethical by veterinarians and their clients in many other countries?” (Fox, 2006) The American Veterinary Medical Society has stated that it encourages educating clients about the actual procedure and what will actually happen to the cat. Unfortunately, many veterinarians do not fully educate owners about the procedure when promoting convenience declawing. Sadly, some owners also do not care to know what will happen to the cat. The only way to be sure that veterinarians are truly treating cats humanely is to ban convenience declawing.

Laws exist to protect animals in the United States from cruel living conditions, poor treatment, abuse, and neglect. Yet there has been no ban of declawing. While declawing is most commonplace in the United States and Canada, in many other countries declawing is either illegal or considered extremely inhumane and only performed under extreme circumstances. Declawing is banned in Europe, the British Isles, Bosnia, Slovenia, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Malta, and Israel. (Schelling, Outlawed Countries) Declawing is a money making procedure for the vets that provide it, and many of those vets have fought against a ban of the procedure. Pro-declawing vets say they want the decision to declaw to be between the vet and client, and not regulated. It seems that these vets are also motivated by loss of declawing as a source of income. Some pro-declawing vets use this reasoning, “Since destructive clawing behavior can sometimes lead owners to euthanize their cat, the procedure can be a lifesaver.” (Syufy, Anti-Declaw Advocates Score Major Win: First Declawing Ban in US - West Hollywood, CA, 2011) But shelter directors, volunteers, and other vets state that surrender and euthanasia is much more common for litter box avoidance issues seen in declawed cats than for scratching behavior in clawed cats. In countries that ban declawing, owners use alternative non-surgical methods to counter destructive clawing behavior, driving euthanasia for litter box avoidance to low rates.

The movement to ban declawing has been growing with support from vets, animal owners, and animal welfare organizations. In California, some cities in which have introduced legislation are: Santa Monica (Drug Week staff editors, 2009), San Diego, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, and West Hollywood. West Hollywood’s ban initially passed in 2003, was subsequently overturned, but upon appeal was upheld. As recently as last year, Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood, CA) “introduced legislation that will prohibit veterinarians from declawing cats in the State of California.” (Goldstein) Legislation has been introduced to ban the procedure in other states; some bills have also focused upon the illegality of landlords requiring that cat owners declaw their cats. Attorney Brian Pease said of the fight against the practice in Massachusetts: “There’s no way that a federal law or any other law would require cats to be declawed because it’s such a cruel procedure.” (Wilbourn) Grass roots efforts in small municipalities to pass a declawing ban help other areas to pass bills to ban the surgery in these other communities. Many individual communities banning the procedure will help the United States join the long list of countries that have humanely banned declawing.

It is estimated that 93.6 million cats live as household companions in the United States. From seventy-five to eighty percent of cat owners do not declaw their cats. Some vets continue to perform declawing surgery despite causing long lasting physical and behavioral problems that often lead to surrender and euthanasia of the animal. The United States lags behind the rest of the developed world by delaying banning this cruel procedure. Since humane and non-surgical alternatives to declawing are available, there is little reason to consider declawing a cat. Public outcry is becoming more vocal as laws are introduced to ban declawing surgery as cruel. Though slow, the movement to ban convenience declawing in the United States is gaining momentum. The humanity of a people is illustrated by how the least of the creatures in their care are treated. It is up to owners and care givers to protect and treat humanely the beautiful cats that have been living with people for thousands of years. “If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat." - Mark Twain

Works Cited

Feline Onychectomy at a Teaching Institution: A Retrospective Study of 163 cases. (1994, Jul-Aug). Vet Surg, 23(4), 274-80.

ASPCA. (n.d.). Position Statement on Declawing Cats. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from ASPCA:

Atwood-Harvey, D. (2005, December). Death or Declaw: Dealing with Moral Ambiguity in a Veterinary Hospital. Society and Animals, 13(4), 315-342.

Ben Shaul, D. (1994, August 28). Keep Claws on your Cat. The Jerusalem Post, p. 7.

Broder, J. M. (2003, January 25). In West Hollywood, a Cat's Right to Scratch May Become a Matter of Law. New York Times, p. 12.

Cloutier, S., Newberry, R. C., Cambridge, A. J., & Tobias, K. M. (2005). Behavioural signs of postoperative pain in cats following onychectomy or tenectomy surgery. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 325-334.

Drug Week staff editors. (2009, October 9). The Paw Project: Santa Monica Votes to Draft Ordinance on City-Wide Cat De-Claw Ban. Drug Week, p. 1832.

Eckstein, S. r. (2009, June 28). Declawing Cats Q&A: Positives, Negatives, and Alternatives. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Healthy Cats Guide, WebMD:

Fox, M. W. (2006, February 15). Questions Ethics of Onychectomy in Cats. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, p. 602.

Goldstein, L. D. (n.d.). The Debate on Declaw Laws. Retrieved March 15, 2010, from Stray Pet Advocacy:

Hammett, D. E. (n.d.). Is Declawing Cruel? Retrieved March 15, 2011, from PetStation CatStation:

Jan's Kitten Kids. (n.d.). Laser Declaw: Is it really better? Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Jan's Kids:

Journal of the American Veterinarian Medical Society. (2004, June 1). Veterinarian's Oath Reaffirmed. Retrieved April 7, 2011, from Journal of the American Veterinarian Medical Society:

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. (2003, April 15). AVMA position statement on the declawing of domestic cats. Retrieved March 16, 2011, from AVMA Online News Archives:

Lee, J. D. (n.d.). Is Declawing Cats Cruel? Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Dr. Justine Lee:

Mohd Idris, S. (2008, July 30). Enough of this Mutilation. New Straits Times (Malaysia), p. 23.

Nolen, R. S. (2006, February 1). California City's Ban on Declawing Struck Down - Court affirms. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 333-334.

Patrick, C. (n.d.). Declawing As Seen by a Shelter Volunteer. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Cats:

Prouts, L. G. (1998, March 17). The Declawing Issue. Washington Post, p. Z11.

Pukay, B. D. (1994, September 29). Training Cats not to Scratch a Better Alternative to Declawing. The Ottawa Citizen, p. B4.

Sacks, A. (2003, April 26). Kitty's Claws for Concern. Daily News (New York), pp. Now, 39.

Schelling, C. D. (n.d.). Home: Written by Veterinarian, Dr. Christianne Schelling. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Declawing: What You Need to Know:

Schelling, C. D. (n.d.). Outlawed Countries. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Declawing: What You Need to Know:

Schelling, C. D. (n.d.). Technical Facts. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Declawing: What You Need to Know:

Singer, Z. (2001, August 10). Veterinarians seek ban on declawing of cats: Procedure should only be allowed 'where euthanasia is only alternative'. The Ottawa Citizen, p. A1/Front.

Sturges, L. (2005, January 29). For Cats' Health, Scratch This Surgery. Washington Post, p. A23.

Swiderski, J. D. (2002, November). Onychectomy and its Alternatives in the Feline Patient. Clinical Techniques in Small Animal Practice, 17(4), 158-161.

Syufy, F. (2011). Anti-Declaw Advocates Score Major Win: What Lies Ahead on the Declawing Front? Retrieved March 16, 2011, from Cats:

Syufy, F. (2011). Anti-Declaw Advocates Score Major Win: First Declawing Ban in US - West Hollywood, CA. (The New York Times Company) Retrieved March 16, 2011, from About.Com Cats:

Syufy, F. (2011). Are there any states in USA where declawing is illegal ? Which ones? Retrieved April 11, 2011, from Cats:

Syufy, F. (2011). Declawing: Disclouse and Wait. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Cats:

The New Zealand Herald. (2003, May 9). West Hollywood Bans Cat Declawing. The New Zealand Herald, pp. News, World: Latest.

Wall Street Journal. (2007, June 29). Declawing and the Law. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from The Wall Street Journal:

Wilbourn, C. (n.d.). Don't Declaw Cats! Retrieved March 15, 2011, from The Cat Therapist:

But where are you going to get your protein?!

This question comes up all the time when I tell people that I'm not eating meat (and even more when I mention that I don't eat other animal things either)...where are you going to get your protein? Many people that ask do so with the look of supreme knowledge that vegetarians are going to somehow die of lack of protein, but that isn't even a vague issue. The National Cattlemen's Association and the United Poultry Farmers have worked long and hard to convince the American public that we need lots and lots of protein, (not to mention the promotion of the myth that we need animal sources of iron and calcium, not true, either) but it just isn't true. Too much protein has its own inherant health issues, but lets get back to how vegans get plenty.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends .5g of protein per kg for the average adult. To get your weight in kg, just divide the pounds by 2.2. So that means that my overweight self (I will admit to weighing a hefty 175 right now) needs only about 40 grams of protein a day to be perfectly healthy. The USDA's RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance)says that we need .8g per kg. Of course, the USDA is pretty much run by factory farm giant corporations. But I'll figure that out for you anyway...for the same weight at .8grams per kg, I'd need 63.64 grams of protein a day. That's still well below what the meat folks would like you to believe, and what will cause heart and arterial disease as well.

So now that I know that I only need somewhere between 40-64 grams of protein a day, where is a vegan to get it? Easy! Here are some unexpected sources:

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour is 46 grams
1/2 cup textured vegetable protein(TVP), dry is 24. (Fake meat ingredient)
1 cup soybeans, cooked, boiled (edamame) is 22.07
1 cup wheat flour, whole grain is 16.41
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, shelled is 16.4
1/2 cup of whole almonds is 15.17
2 TBSP brewer's yeast is 14
1 cup wheat flour, white, all purpose is 12.91
1 cup yellow cornmeal is 9.91
1 cup cooked peas is 8.24
1/2 cup quinoa (keen-wa, a very yummy grain) is 8.14
1 1/2 TBSP Red Star nutritional yeast is 8
1/2 cup pinto beans, cooked is 7.7
1/2 cup kidney beans, cooked, 7.7
1 cup of SPINACH, cooked has 7.62
1/2 cup black beans, cooked 7.6
1/2 cup navy beans, cooked is 7.5
1/2 cup chickpeas/garbanzo beans, cooked is 7.3
1/2 cup vegetarian baked beans, canned is 6
1 cup of BROCCOLI, cooked, is 5.70
and 1 cup long-grain brown rice, cooked is 5.03

Source: USDA Nutrient Database via "Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Foods" by Alicia C. Simpson.

As you can see, the beans aren't even at the top of the list of power protein foods. If I have a cup of rice and some broccoli, I'm already over 1/4 the way to having enough protein. This also doesn't list the protein found in soy foods like soy yogurt and tofu. So please put to rest the myth that vegetarians and vegans don't get enough protein, it simply isn't true.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Case Against Declawing Cats

This is a persuasive essay assignment for my writing class this semester.  Though it is not as long as a full-scale research paper (that's the next assignment), there is a lot of information in this essay that might be of interest if you're thinking about declawing your cat.  I hope you don't, but here is some information to consider:

Declawing cats

Most people who adopt a pet intend to treat the animal with great love and care. Sometimes, through lack of information, or based upon having done so to another cat in the past, an owner will decide to have a cat declawed. The owner might not realize that prevailing thought about declawing cats has changed greatly over the years, or might not realize what the surgery actually does to the beloved pet. Declaw surgeries are still being performed in the United States despite the growing outcry of many veterinarians and cat lovers that the procedure is cruel and outdated. The ASPCA, Cat Fancier’s Association, World Small Animal Veterinary Association, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR), American Humane Association, and the Humane Association of the USA have all issued position statements which oppose declawing cats for the convenience of their guardians. If each pet owner will not declaw his or her own cats and not patronize vets that perform the procedure, much needless suffering will be averted. Each owner who chooses to be humane will help declaw surgeries fall from favor and eventually stop altogether. The declawing of cats is a complex, painful, mutilating surgery causing frequent medical and behavioral complications; since there are humane and non-surgical alternatives to keep cats from damaging household goods with their claws, no caring owner should declaw his or her cat.

Many owners who opted for declaw surgery on their cats say later that they were not aware of what the procedure entailed (Syufy, 2011), nor were they counseled as to non-surgical alternatives to counter the cat’s natural instinct to scratch. Some veterinary offices tell their clients that declawing is a fairly simple, relatively painless and routine surgery for the cat. But this procedure actually consists of “amputating not just the claws, but the whole phalanx (up to the joint), including bones, ligaments, and tendons! To remove the claw, the bone, nerve, joint capsule, collateral ligaments, and the extensor and flexor tendons must all be amputated.” (Christianne Schelling, Technical Facts) Dr. Schelling writes that the surgery is not at all simple but includes ten separate, painful amputations of the third phalanx up to the last joint of each toe. She compares the surgery to cutting off of a person’s fingers at the last joint of each finger. Sometimes clinic staff will deliberately misinform owners that declawing removes only the claws and is a minor surgery, but removal of the claws is not sufficient to declaw the cat, the bones must be removed to prevent the claw from growing back. (Christianne Schelling, Technical Facts) Declawing is considered so inhumane that it has been banned entirely in a number of countries, (Christianne Schelling, Outlawed Countries) or is used only in cases of medical necessity such as a toe being injured so badly it must be amputated.

Laser declawing surgery is often promoted as painless by vets who have purchased the forty-five thousand dollar laser machine. Regardless of the method used for the surgery, the result and after effects are the same. The toes of the cat are still cut and mutilated. The laser burns the tissue and bone off rather than requiring the vet to do as much cutting by hand. Some people feel that the cost of the laser machine gives veterinarians a financial reason to promote declaw surgery even though they know of the painful aftermath. (Jan's Kitten Kids) A vet with the machine may suggest clients declaw at the same time as neutering the cat. This practice is a form of cross selling as the vet tries to recoup money invested in the equipment. Veterinarians who decline to mention the severity of the surgery also do not mention the severity of the recovery. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, DVM has written that “cats bounce off the walls in recovery cages because of the excruciating pain after declawing, as opposed to neutering surgery recoveries which are fairly peaceful.” He further says that partial digit amputation (declawing) is so horrible that it has been used as torture for prisoners of war. (Syufy, 2011)

The declawed cat now must deal with a very painful recovery. The rate of complication after declaw surgery is relatively high compared to other procedures. Direct complications can include excruciating pain, nerve damage, hemorrhage, bone chips that prevent healing, painful regrowth of deformed claws inside the paw which are not visible to the eye. Chronic back and joint pain is common as shoulder, leg and back muscles weaken because the cat was designed to walk on the toes which have been amputated. Abscesses can also form. (Christianne Schelling, Technical Facts) . Studies quoted by Dr. Schelling and published in peer-reviewed veterinary journals note that “fifty percent of the cats had one or more complications immediately after surgery.” The studies also noted that many cats suffered a loss of balance because they could no longer maneuver well on their amputated stumps. (Christianne Schelling, Technical Facts)

Even after its paws have healed, a declawed cat frequently has behavioral issues due to the surgery. Grooming is important for feline mental and physical health. A cat cannot groom fully without claws. The cat can learn to use its teeth more, but it cannot scratch and groom itself in the region of the head, mouth, neck, and ears. Anyone who has ever had an itch that cannot be scratched can sympathize with this dilemma! Scratching and stretching its claws are pleasurable activities which are also taken away from the cat. Any cat has a natural love of climbing that is impossible to switch off. Without claws, the cat will slip and fall, causing confusion and disbelief. The simple act of climbing up to a chair or window perch may now prove to be hazardous. A declawed cat must never be let outdoors. If the cat ever found itself lost or homeless, it would no longer be able to hunt and would die of starvation. A declawed cat will frequently resort to biting when confronted with even minor threats. The cat becomes very insecure with no claws with which to defend itself. All cats have an instinctive need to scratch in the litter box which is also frustrated by declawing. A high percentage of animals surrendered to shelters for behavioral reasons are there because of misuse of the litter box, not clawing. Of cats euthanized for behavioral reasons, seventy-five percent are declawed. (Jan's Kitten Kids) Declawing is also reported to have changed cats’ personalities, though the medical community does not recognize this side effect. (Christianne Schelling, Home: Written by Veterinarian, Dr. Christianne Schelling) Each person knows his or her own pet, personality change can be a very subjective observation. Just one frustration can cause behavioral issues in any cat, while the declawed cat has many challenges to overcome.

Owners sometimes mention fear of the cat scratching household furnishings as a reason to declaw. However, there are many non-surgical alternatives to declawing that will protect household goods. Claws are fairly easily trimmed by the owner of even the most difficult cat with a bit of practice. Even claws of reluctant cats can be trimmed by an owner using a cat bag or enlisting a helper. Cats gain comfort from the act of scratching. Providing scratching posts and pads rubbed with catnip train the cat to scratch on the scratching post and not on the furniture. Multiple scratchers throughout the house give the cat acceptable places to scratch whenever the desire occurs. Double sided tape can be applied to furniture to train the cat not to touch an area, cats really hate the sticky feeling on their paws. Aluminum foil over a surface also discourages cats from scratching inappropriately. Cats climbing curtains can be immediately cured by using a loosely attached spring tension rod. The cat will climb it and the rod will fall down, often requiring only one effort to teach a cat not to climb or scratch the draperies. Another alternative is a product called “Soft Claws”. These are vinyl tips that are glued to the claws of the cat to protect furnishings. They are widely available, easy to apply, and stay on four to six weeks. Cat trees and gyms are fun alternatives, cats love to climb and scratch on them, leaving the furnishings in the house untouched. Sprays are also available to deter scratching, and squirt bottle training works well to prevent scratching inappropriate items. Dr. David E. Hammett, DVM said it well: “home furnishings are expensive, but a cat’s well-being is priceless.” (David E Hammett)

It is important for pet owners to educate themselves about the care and well-being of their pets, and to choose humane options for them. Owners that consider declawing a cat should be aware of the extent of this complex, major, mutilating surgery. They should be aware that declawing is denounced by most animal organizations and banned in many countries as inhumane. Owners should explore all the non-surgical alternative methods available to keep the cat from scratching furnishings. Owners should not believe a vet’s assurance that complications occur only occasionally or that the cat will recover and be able to walk just fine, since statistical and anecdotal evidence does not agree. Owners that say they have tried alternative measures to declawing and that declawing is being done so that the cat’s life may be saved often have not sought help or used sufficient effort to train the cat to change its behavior. If they lived in a country which bans declawing, owners would find ways to train the cat or provide alternative places to scratch. Polls have been publicized in which a small percentage of owners say they would surrender their cats if they could not declaw them, suggesting more euthanasia deaths of pets. But rather than creating more euthanasia deaths, those owners might not adopt a cat at all if they knew they were unable to declaw it, or would use alternative methods of training the cat if declaw surgery was unavailable. Inconvenience of the owner for a time does not begin to compare to the pain and behavioral issues of the cat recovering from the amputation of its toes. Cats grace the lives of the people around them with charm, beauty, intelligence, and companionship. It is up to cat owners to make the best, most humane, choices for their care. Scottish veterinarian James Herriot said, “I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us, trusting as a child must that we will be kind and take care of their needs... [They] are an obligation put on us, a responsibility we have no right to neglect, nor to violate by cruelty.”

Works Cited

ASPCA. (n.d.). Position Statement on Declawing Cats. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from ASPCA:

Christianne Schelling, D. (n.d.). Home: Written by Veterinarian, Dr. Christianne Schelling. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Declawing: What You Need to Know:

Christianne Schelling, D. (n.d.). Outlawed Countries. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Declawing: What You Need to Know:

Christianne Schelling, D. (n.d.). Technical Facts. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Declawing: What You Need to Know:

Jan's Kitten Kids. (n.d.). Laser Declaw: Is it really better? Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Jan's Kids:

Patrick, C. (n.d.). Declawing As Seen by a Shelter Volunteer. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Cats:

Syufy, F. (2011). Declawing: Disclouse and Wait. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Cats: