Friday, July 15, 2016

Confessions of a Vet Tech—I Help Declaw Cats #BtC4A

Confessions of a Vet Tech—I Help Declaw Cats #BtC4A

I'm participating once again in Blog the Change for Animals. Today I have a guest blogger who's been a friend of TW's for almost 20 years. You know this message is special cos Stunning Keisha never uses guest bloggers. She has axed to remain anonymous because there's a good chance she could lose her job at the clinic if they see this piece. This is her story.

Everyone has a chore they hate to perform. I hate doing laundry. And I hate having to assist in declawing cats. You see, I am a veterinary technician. This has been my profession for over 30 years. And I am not just any old vet tech; I specialize in cats. Cats, the most wonderful creatures on this planet; the animal I have devoted my life to in so many ways.

I work at a very busy and very modern veterinary hospital. Yes, we declaw cats. Only one vet actually performs the surgery and she is very skilled. We use a laser, which is less painful, less bloody and faster healing. And fortunately, I see it being done less often. But … I still hate it.

Confessions of a Vet Tech—I Help Declaw Cats #BtC4A
Faith was declawed back in the 1970s before TW knew anything about 
cats. She was their first cat and friends said to get her declawed at the 
same time she had her Ladygardenectemy.  When she came home with 
her feet all bandaged,  Gramma cried and promised "Never Again." 
As a reminder, TW kept one of Faith's little bandages.
Declawing a cat is so much more than just removing a claw. The correct term is onychectomy: the surgical amputation of the last bone in each digit of a cat's paw. Scratching is a natural part of a cat's life. Removing claws (toes) from a cat's paws only benefits the owner—or their furniture. I hear the statement "But it keeps the cat in the home rather than being thrown outside or surrendered to a shelter." I cannot control people's choices for their pets. But I do offer my advice if they ask me. Some owners are totally "pro-declaw" and I cannot change their mind. Most are "anti-declaw" thankfully. But for the client who is having difficulty making that decision, I am only too happy to tell them the facts. Most just ask me "Are your cats declawed?" and I tell them "Absolutely not." 

Several countries have banned the declawing surgery. Countries such as Israel, Brazil and most of Europe. Some US cities & states are considering bans. I only wish the people who choose the surgery had to see their poor cat's bloody paws the next day. I will admit that almost every declaw we perform on juvenile cats turns out just fine. They recover quickly. We always use pain medication pre- and post-surgery. All cats at kept at least two nights to recover and sent home with strict home care instructions.

Confessions of a Vet Tech—I Help Declaw Cats #BtC4A
It is the older, "well-fed" cats that I really feel should never be declawed. We do discuss options such as free nail trims, Soft Paws nail caps, scratching posts, etc. before doing the surgery. We also go over the increased risks with the client and address the discomfort for the cat. I will say that our clinic goes above and beyond making sure cats gets the best care and that includes pain medication.

Complications usually arise from owner noncompliance. In all fairness, I will say that I have seen these declawed cats grow up and grow old. Not one has had claws grow back or ended up with deformed toes. My advice to anyone who insists on having their cat declawed: Do your homework. Find a cat friendly veterinarian. Get referrals. Feel free to ask how many declaws that vet has preformed. You owe it to your cat!

One last word..."tendonectomy". That is an alternative to declawing. It is rarely done, but I have seen horrific results. It involves cutting the tendon under the cat's toes. They still have claws, but cannot extend them. They also cannot scratch off the nail sheaths. The claws continue to grow, and if not regularly trimmed throughout the cat's life, they will grow into paws.

The controversy over this procedure will never end. Just educate yourself and remember to kiss your cat every day!

Stunning Keisha will always be against declawing cats. We feel if a human cannot be talked out of it after hearing what the surgery involves, they don't deserve to live with a cat. Thanks to Ann Nonymous for the guest post. For more news and info on declawing visit The Paw Project. You can watch a trailer for the Paw Project Movie here.  Right now both New Jersey and New York have bills pending to ban declawing. Please support NJ Bill #A3899 and NY A.1297/S.5084.

35 comments:

Summer at sparklecat.com said...

That was really brave of the tech to post. I really purr for the day when nobody even thinks of declawing kitties.

speedyrabbit said...

I feel for that tech,such an awful practice,xx Rachel

Layla Morgan Wilde ( Cat Wisdom 101) said...

It must hard to choose to work for a vet who does declawing but probably harder to find a job at a vet clinic where they don't declaw. We need more vets to lead the way towards not declawing. Change takes time.

Brian said...

That declawing thing is most evil and we hope it is outlawed everywhere soon.

LetterstoAndrew said...

I'm SO glad she came forward and shared an expert opinion, that was very brave of her.

I personally find it cruel (I understand the instances where an infection or something else requires it, but for the purposes of keeping your furniture nice, NO) and advise anyone that I hear speak about it, against it.

I do wish they would ban it.

Lola The Rescued Cat said...

Thank you to the vet tech for a great post. Many, many years ago Mommy had her cats declawed before she knew any better. Years later when she found out more about the surgery she was horrified. To this day she still feels guilty and is embarrassed to admit it. But now she can educate people based on her experience.

Savannah's Paw Tracks said...

Wow! What a courageous vet tech. So sorry they have to experience this horror. I know a feline vet who years ago had her OWN CATS declawed. One of them, now about 14 years old, has tremors in its front legs due to the lack of claws to help support his body. There are many side effects as the cat ages

ANGEL ABBYGRACE said...

I cannot fathom why this barbaric procedure is still allowed. I cannot understand medical people allowing it to happen in their practices, but it does multiple times a day. It is just so wrong on so many levels.

Tamago said...

It must be really hard to work for vet that does declawing. At least they discuss other options before surgery - I hope it helps their clients to reconsider. Often they just don't know how cruel declawing is.

Ann Staub said...

I think it's on its way out, thankfully. I too assisted in declaws. My story could almost be the same as this tech's. The first clinic I worked at would only allow declaws under 6 months old and weighing less than 7 lbs and never the back feet. The 2nd clinic would do any cat, all paws if desired. We did not do many, thankfully.

Three Chatty Cats said...

Kudos to the vet tech for writing this. I can't imagine how hard it must be for a true cat lover to have to see this at their place of employment. Here's to hoping this cruel and needless procedure is outlawed here very soon!

Jeanne Melanson said...

Hearing that someone wants to declaw their cat makes me feel sick. If I get the chance, I will educate them as well as I can. I wrote a post that was anti-declawing too. I wonder what the Vet that does it in this particular case, feels about it. It's a barbaric practice. I sure wouldn't want my fingernails taken off. Ouch. Thanks for your post. I will visit the links you mention above. Bravo.

Alasandra, The Cats and Dogs said...

Thanks for having this guest post, we would never declaw. We try to discourage it as much as possible when speaking with others.

da tabbies o trout towne said...

CK...we apurreciate thiz post & de time ann taked two rite it, manee thanx for sharin, &... de fax......

we hope sooner N later ALL states ban thiz pro seedure.....

bak in de timez oh dark ages when werd round trout towne waz given false lee by ----- ; both boomer & daiz had thiz done, N daiz had her pawz a total mess de day afturr her came home ~~~~~~~ ♥♥♥

me ...tuna....had me claws taken cod noes when; when de food servizz gurl adopted me; me clawz waz all reddy loooooooooooooong gone ~~~ ♥♥♥

FidoseofReality said...

Good for the tech for writing this and way to go for sharing it!

Janet Keefe said...

I imagine a lot of people considering this don't even realize exactly what it entails. I would hope if more vet's offices explained it clearly like this, they would change their minds.
A true pet lover will always put their pet's health and comfort above material things like furniture. Our cat Sam did a lot of damage to the pine walls in our old house. Oh well, no pine walls in our new house is our answer!
Great post!
Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

The Swiss Cats said...

That tech is very brave to post and tell about this. Declawing is illegal in Switzerland, and we hope it will be soon everywhere. Purrs

Jean Neilson said...

Very interesting info from this tech. Thanks for sharing. Declawing is really cruel yet I remember my mother having it done to her Siamese as much as I don't want to remember because we tried to talk her out of it but her mind was set. This is back in the 70's.

Jean

Melissa, Mudpie and Angel Truffles (Mochas, Mysteries and Meows) said...

What a brave post for this vet tech to write, but the horror of declawing is so important for people to understand.

pilch92 15andmeowing said...

I catsit for 2 cats that had the tendonectomy before my friend adopted them. They need their nails trimmed often because they can't scratch on scratchers like a regular cat. I am against this and of course declawing. I would never be able to work in a place and assist in this barbaric practice.

Pawesome Cats said...

That's a tough situation to be in! Personally though, I couldn't be a vet tech if the barbaric practice of declawing was part of the job description.

Sometimes, Cats Herd You said...

The only cats the head peep has known who have had tendonectomy belonged to a vet tech. She hadn't heard of it before the tech (a family friend) said that she had the procedure done to her cats. We hope the day comes when humans accept that claws are part of who we are.

Caren Gittleman said...

CK thank you for featuring this wonderful guest! This was not only beautifully written and heartfelt, it is MOST IMPORTANT. Thank you so much! catchatwithcarenandcody

The Island Cats said...

We purr for the day that declawing is outlawed every where. We think they still do declawing at our vet office, though we know they do every thing to discourage it. But what can you do when stoopid humans still want it done? If it was outlawed, then vets wouldn't have to do it.

The Daily Pip said...

It's great to hear someone in the veterinary world speak the truth about declawing. I'm shocked how many people still don't realize what it actually is ...

Jen Gabbard said...

Love the honesty of this post. I can't imagine it was easy to write, nor do I envy those who face moral dilemmas in the workplace. It's nice to see that there are a few bans in place and that the practice is becoming less of the norm, but we still have a ways to go. No doubt keeping the conversation open like this is a tremendous help.

Kitties Blue said...

Exceptionally well-done post on the horrifying procedure. XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

Anonymous said...

Fanks fur sharin' CK. Mommy says she was young and dumb once too. And when she was a tech, thought nothing of it. 'Course she also wasn't offen involved with those surgeries. Fankfully we are more educated these days and topics are more easily researched and talked 'bout.

Luv ya'

Dezi and Raena

Miss Julie and Mr Izzy said...

I had a cat who must have had tendon damage in one of his back toes because one toenail would be very thick and curl around into his toe and I had to have it cut by a veterinarian. I asked if they would just declaw that one toe so it wouldn't happen again. They wouldn't do it but oddly enough they didn't tell me to trim it and it never occurred to me. So it happened again. I had never heard about the tendon being the problem before now.

meowmeowmans said...

What a brave post for your vet tech friend to write, CK. Declawing is a horrific procedure, and we hope and pray for the day when it is outlawed everywhere.

Cassandra Cat said...

Thank you for speaking up about declawing! I have two dumped declawed cats, one has re-growth coming out of her paw pads, the other is petrified of hands and bites. Declawing is a barbaric amputation of each p3 toe bone done for furniture that will eventually be replaced from human filth and dust mites. Declawing does not benefit the cat, it benefits the 'bank account' of who performs it and it benefits 'Sally Sofa'. There are numerous scratching posts and pads and nail caps available. Vets should offer claw clippings, they should sell posts and pads, they should offer to apply nail caps. I am so sorry you had to help out with declawing cats, I know many vet techs quit and some were fired for speaking up. There was a bill in NY and the NYSVMS paid thousands to keep that no-declaw from passing. Same thing with the Oregon bill. Now, big question, there is a bill in NJ to ban it, will the NJ AVMA pay thousands to keep that bill from passing too?

Cassandra Cat said...

Praying too!

Snowleopard755 said...

I live in the UK where we have never declawed cats, not even when it was technically legal because it was against the British veterinary governing body's ethics. Cats with claws are really a non-problem here i.e we don't even use Soft paws and there's never been any sort of call for a 'solution' to cats' claws. When people grow up in a country where cats' paws aren't mutilate for convenience, they just accept that cat MIGHT (because in reality, past the kitten months, most don't) scratch the furniture and put the effort into training it, if it does, and/pr providing a decent scratching post.

Anonymous said...

YIKESS that iss sum procedure an mee so-o glad Ladymum wood not go fur it!! Shee iss toe-tallee against dee-clawin all tho it was suggested to 'calm mee down'!!! Shee was furry uppyset over thee hole idea!
Wee feel sorry fur thee Vet Tech what has to assist with thee procedure. Wee know shee has to do it fur her job; that iss so-o unfair tho'.....
***nose bumpsss*** Siddhartha Henry xxxxx

Tails from the Foster Kittens said...

When I worked at a vet clinic (as a front end associate) I marked the folders of the cats that were caution right on the front so it would be easy to find, so vets would know what they were walking into and could prepare accordingly. I also marked all of the declawed cats declawed so that we wouldn't offer them nail trims while they were there.

Turns out, most of the caution cats were declawed. The most frightening cat we had at the clinic had no claws and no teeth.

And while kittens generally do bounce back from surgery with no obvious indicators that there is a problem, that doesn't mean they are 'just fine' The Paw Project is finding that there are a lot of declawed cats with fragments left behind from the procedure that cause them pain. They hide it well for a few years and as they grow up and put on weight it becomes an issue.. generally presenting itself as litter box avoidance. Even if there are no fragments and everything goes 'perfectly' the lack of claws throws off the cat's gait and the long term wear and tear on the cats joints can cause arthritis and other problems down the road.

I watched a few cats recover from being declawed (the vet I worked for was very much pro-declawing) and it was heartbreaking. There are videos on youtube that are very accurate as to what they go through.