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Declawing, the Reality of it All

When I was a little girl we had “Kouklo”. My Siamese cat. He was a beautiful dark, seal point, with a kink in his tail and he was blue eyed–not cross-eyed. I remember him like it was yesterday. Coming home from school my mother surprised me with this little kitten in a box. I was overjoyed and thus began my journey with my best friend.

Mother was the one to keep things on track with the cat. The litter box, the food purchasing, the vet checks, the neutering and the declawing. I actually remember the day he came home from his declawing ordeal. Mother warned us to leave him alone because he was healing. I never gave it a second thought that this was wrong, but rather it was just part of the scheme of things, so that our indoor cat would not rip up the sofa or curtains, not that he ever showed any inclination to do so.

Today’s perspective on declawing a domestic house cat has brought about some heated discussions and different lines of thought. Is it the right thing to do?

Investigating this topic has brought me to the decision that declawing one’s house pet (cat or dog) is not right, nor is it humane. This perspective is now at the forefront of feline and canine care so that many veterinarians are not carrying out these surgeries any longer. It is old school and is considered unhealthy, and greatly inhumane for the cat. If you are being told by a veterinarian that this surgery is standard, or of no concern, you are being lied to.

Why are claws important to cats?

Declawing is pretty much an American thing. It is a surgical procedure people do for their own convenience without realizing what actually happens to their beloved cat. In England declawing is termed “inhumane” and “unnecessary mutilation.” In many European countries it is illegal.

The claws of a cat perform a number of vital functions. When it scratches different surfaces, a cat is creating a visual and scent identification mark for its territory. There is also a psychological comfort through kneading, helping the animal climb to safety or to secure a high vantage point. Also a cat’s claws help the it fully stretch his back and legs. A declawed cat never experiences the head-to-toe satisfaction of a full body stretch.

A pet owner’s decision to declaw their cat may be based on more myth than fact. Here are common reasons people choose to proceed:

  • To protect the furniture or other items in the house
  • Unwillingness or non-belief a cat cannot be trained to refrain or redirected from scratching
  • To stop the cat from scratching its owner, children or other humans
  • A friend or other family member’s cat is declawed and seems fine
  • Have always declawed family cats
  • The veterinarian has recommended it as a standard procedure
  • Misinformation or uninformed about the actual surgery and its brutality
  • A cat that uses its claws is demonstrating normal behavior

Facts About Declawing

Declawing is not like a manicure. It is serious surgery. Your cat’s claw is not a toenail. It is actually closely adhered to the bone. So closely adhered, that to remove the claw, the last bone of your the cat’s claw has to be removed. Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat’s “toes”.

  • Declawing a cat is very painful.
  • Declawing is major surgery.
  • Declawing is illegal in 14 countries
  • Declawing has dangerous side effects for the cat
  • “Onchectomy” surgery amputates, (yes, “amputates”) the entire last joint toe (marder) of the paw
    This surgery is the equivalent to having the tips of a human finger cut off at the first joint below the fingernail.
  • The amputation is conducted by either a guillotine nail cutter or with a scalpel blade that dissects the two bones.
  • A surgical glue fills the hole left behind, with its bonding ability and is the paw is covered in bandages before the anesthesia has worn away. The layers of bandages are removed before going home.
  • The glue does not always remain intact so that painfully re-gluing is necessary without anesthesia;
  • The cat will have several days of walking difficulty.
  • Some cats are found to thrash around in their holding cage at the vets post-surgery due to excruciating pain. Some cats huddle in the corner, helpless in overwhelming pain.

Post-Surgery

  • Re-growth: A cat’s claw can re-grow years after surgery
  • Pain: The cat will endure lots of pain and/or phantom pain, in one or more of its toes, throughout its life.
  • Joint Stiffness or “Frozen Joints” because the tendons that control the toe joints retract post  surgery.
  • Litter box Problems: Declawed cats may have more litter box problems than clawed cats. Households with cats refusing to use the litter box may spend thousands of dollars replacing drywall, carpets, and sub-floors to repair urine damage.
  • Biting: Some declawed cats do seem to “notice” that their claws are missing, and turn to biting as a primary means of defense.
  • Change in personality: A friendly, delightful kitten may become a morose, fearful, or reclusive cat, never to recover its natural joy, grace, and love of exploration.
  • Death: There is always a small but real risk of death from any general anesthesia, as well as from bleeding or other surgical complications.

Watch the following video as Dr. Li, of Singapore, speaks out against cat declawing. Warning some parts of this video are graphic.

Countries that have Outlawed Cat Declawing or
Consider it Extremely Inhumane

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • Italy
  • Austria
  • Switzerland
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Ireland
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Slovenia
  • Brazil
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Serbia
  • Montenegro
  • Macedonia
  • Slovenia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Bosnia
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Northern Ireland
  • Portugal
  • Belgium
  • Israel

There is plenty of information out there to educate one’s self on the brutality of declawing.
Watch the video below and follow the link.

The Paw Project – follow this link for more information.

Keeping Your Cat Healthy – Aiding In Its Need to Scratch

Except that your cat’s health is dependent on its need to scratch. Provide it with a proper sisal scratching post or box. Also on the market are claw caps and claw trimmers.

You must be willing to work with your cat to maintain healthy scratching activity.
1. Provide an irresistible scratching surface.
2. Praise your cat when he/she uses the appropriate surface and scold when claws are used inappropriately.
3. Trim your cat’s claws.

Read about helpful devices to aide in your cat’s necessity to scratch here.


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Common Cat Behaviors Explained

Cats. There are an enigma. Very particular, very loyal, very aloof, very much creatures of habit.

Cats have some specific behaviors that all cat parents experience. As we watch and sometimes tolerate, we may wonder why do cats perform certain acts on a daily basis.

I have listed some common cat behaviors that my cats demonstrate.

Cat Behavior Guide

Cat Scratching: This habit for cats enables them to strip away at the old parts of their claws or sheaths to help expose the new layer below. In addition felines mark with their paws scent glands, and extend their claws to simulate climbing.

Cat Naps: Sleeping longs hours is an art form for a cat. They can sleep up to 16 hours. cat nappingMore than likely they are lightly sleeping, ready for a hunt at any given moment (in the wild). Some are sleeping out of boredom.

Cat Kneading: Usually done on a soft, tender surface, like your tummy! This is actually a “milk treading” movement, that is carried over from kitten-hood when they wanted to stimulate milk from their mammas. It’s a good bonding moment with your cat!

Cats and Catnip: A cat will ingest catnip for the high that it gives them. It is safe for them, and they do not form an addiction. The attraction is believed to be from a scent similar to that of urine that the dried plant gives off. Each cat is different in their response including, rolling in it, eating it, and sniffing it.

Cat Purring: This is an audible vibration that comes from within a cat. A feline will purr in contentment, or in fear or stress, sick, or to engage in play with another cat. Mamma cats can purr during labor, and to associate closer with their kittens. The kittens will purr in response. Oddly enough, scientists do not know exactly what part of a feline’s physiology allows it to purr.

Cat Back Arching: This is a defensive, fearful position that a cat will take in order to look larger in front of its prey. With the addition of their fur standing on end they look even larger. They can arch pretty high, with 60 vertebrae in their spine.

Cat Love Bites: This gesture is usually to let you know that enough affection, has been given. It depends on the cat how long they want you to pet them, and a soft nip will give you the clue that they are done. However, a quick nip can mean just the opposite, to keep you engaged to scratch and pet even longer.

Cat Ear Rotation: Rotation of a cat’ ears is a method of communication to those around it – human and feline. Pointing forward would suggest that the cat is content and aware. If the ears are straight up the cat is listening to sounds and ready to investigate. A flattened ear posture demonstrates fear. Ears that are rotated backwards and low show anger and possibly in attack mode.

 alert cat

Cat Spraying: An offensive behavior to us humans, cats will spray to mark territory or to alert a female. Spraying is different than urinating as a vertical surface is commonly used and only a small portion of urine is dispensed. All cats can spray, neutered or spayed, but it is the males that carry out this task the most.

The list is only a partial one of the many cat behaviors that exist.
Visit this site again, to learn of additional interesting cat antics!

How to Rescue an Outdoor Cat

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We have all seen a stray cat roaming on a street or a back alley or neighborhood. It’s not always easy to access if the cat is lost, abandoned, or feral.

If a stray cat however, comes around your yard, you may want to help it out and rescue it. First off I must put a disclaimer note in here. I do not recommend cat rescue for everyone. It can be a tricky and somewhat dangerous endeavor. I am seasoned at it, so I feel comfortable catching a cat and bringing it into my care for a short (or long) period of time.

Cats that are from the out-of-doors can be feral. This means that they have never been socialized with humans and were born of a litter that is wild. They can, however, become tame and domesticated, with time, patience and love. Some cats will adjust easily enough, once they get a taste of the good life!

Supplies You Will Need

  • Plastic open dish/container
  • Live Critter Trap
  • Tarp
  • Blankets
  • Animal Cage 20×20
  • Litter Box
  • Cat Litter
  • Cat Food- dry
  • Water bowl
  • Shallow cat bed box
  • Patience

Catching a Stray Cat

My system of catching a cat that shows up in my yard, is to coax it with food. I use crunchy type food in a plastic container that was otherwise headed for recycling. The container should be shallow enough and about 6 inches in diameter.

Initially the critter cage trap should be set-up and the food dish should be placed out in front of it or nearby, so the cat gets used to seeing the trap and not being frightened by it. Make sure to also cover the trap with a blanket or tarp, depending on weather conditions. Of course leave the opening to the trap exposed.

After a few days of feeding, place the food contained in the trap to the very back of the covered trap. This will lead the animal in, and the trap should trigger and close.

The Next Step

After catching an outdoor cat you must already have a decided place in your home or property to place the cat. Keep the animal sequestered from your other pets. If you have a basement or garage that can fit a large cage or carrier, this is ideal. I would not recommend letting the animal free roaming in a garage or basement, as they can hide, damage property and defecate at will. Having control of the cat, is key.

In most cases the cat whether young, or older, will be afraid of you and the situation. They most likely will be crouching in the back of the cage. There are however cats that may be very friendly and wanting to be petted as they could have been lost from a human family.

Place the food bowl filled, and water container that doesn’t easily tip or spill, near the front of the cage. Place the litter box on the opposite side of the food and water to the front of the cage as well. This layout is not ideal, as cats do not like to have their waste near their food, but it is a small space and as a cat caretaker you need to have the ability to refill and clean up these items.

What Do You Do With The Cat?

Now that you have rescued the cat into your home or garage, you have to assess some things about the feline.

  • Does it appear to be healthy in general?
  • Is it male or female?
  • Does it have a collar?
  • Is it calm and friendly?
  • Is it eating and pooping OK?

As cats can get lost and be out in the elements for awhile, it may be necessary to take a photo of the animal an post is on a lost animal website. You can also contact your local animal shelters or Humane Society of the United States, as they do have records of pet owners looking for their lost pets.

If no one has reported the cat missing, then it is up to you to keep it and give a home or surrender it to your local animal shelter. Please be aware that once you surrender an animal it is up to the shelter to decide its fate. Not all shelters are “no-kill”. You want to find one that is a “no-kill” shelter, so that your rescue cat will be guaranteed a future home with a human family.

Keeping the Cat

Choosing to keep your rescued cat is also an option. You have already done some hard work to save the cat’s life. It is now in your care and environment. There are many considerations however, that should be thought out carefully, as homing a cat is a life-long commitment. Are you able to commit to the care of the cat for its life?

Some initial veterinary costs right away include:

  • Vaccinations – rabies, distemper, feline leukemia – are the main ones
  • De-worming (all stray cats need this),
  • ear mite treatments
  • Micro-chipping ( I highly recommend to protect your cat if it gets lost – again)
  • Spay or Neutering

Also be aware that there could be behavioral issues, such as spraying or, aggression. A cat needs at least a month to adjust to its new environment and given lots of love and reassurance. After all, it has experienced a great trauma either being abandoned, lost, or feral.

Cat Fur-Ever Home?

So many cats need homes as 3.4 million are living in shelters. Euthanized cats number up to 1.4 million per year. (Statistics taken from www.aspca.org. )

Share Your Story

Do you have a cat-rescue story to tell? Share it in the comments section!

Noree in Neverland

Every now and then you encounter a cat like Noree.

She came to me bnoreey way of rescue from an unstable human environment. She is a muted gray marble color, demure, lonesome cat. She is about 6 years, and is waiting for her “fur-ever” home.

Current Housing

Currently, Noree resides at Little Orphans Animal Rescue in Montello, Wisconsin, (LOAR). She doesn’t like it there -too many other cats around. Noree is a reticent feline. She prefers to be the only cat in the house and can get irritated with others, when too much activity is happening around her. It’s not her fault really, as she has been uprooted a number of times by irresponsible humans. This is what happens, thinks Noree, when, you upset my routine.

Noree is a beautiful, playful cat with deep soulful eyes. She has her limitations though, like any of us. And like any of us, she wants to be accepted and loved. Currently barely tolerating her accommodations, she is agitated and wondering how she got into this mess.

Her Journey

I played a hand in her journey to LOAR. I learned that she was going to be euthanized by her owner, if she couldn’t be re-homed. I planned the rescue in the nick of time. Paid the twenty dollars requested, loaded up her belongings- a cat carrier, cat feeder, and some cat food and litter. A tall cat tower, also came along with her, that turned out to be a huge hit for all the cats at the rescue building.

Noree just wants to go to her new home. Noree is waiting. She is a good cat. She is in her “Neverland”.

 

Get Involved

Giving a Helping Paw

You know what they say, to give of your time is the best gift of all.

If you have a passion for cats and love to rescue them or foster them while trying to find them a home, like I do, why not get involved at a local pet rescue shelter?

No doubt every community has a cat rescue or dog or animal rescue, whether it be in your neighborhood, city or county. There are too many un-homed dogs and cats running around out there, mostly cats.

cat at the door to be rescuedTender Heart

I am one of “those” that has a tender heart for the orphan animal. I have taken into my home a variety of animals in need to help them out of the cold or with injury so that I could deliver them to a proper rehab wildlife person. It pains me to see a cat running around my neighborhood or on my deck in cold weather, looking for food. In a case like this I try to live trap the cat and immediately bring it into my cozy basement. I have never rescued a cat that didn’t want to be inside and warm, and fed.

As I have four cats, all rescues, I know the ropes, and am very careful to keep the new cat separate from my house cats. Usually, my family cat members, are not even aware of the new cat visitor.

Decision Time

Well, after a day or two, it’s time for decision. The idea of keeping another cat is always appealing, I have to consider the whole picture of adopting again. This is the step that led me to getting involved at a larger level.

My solution to a recent rescue was to find a nearby local animal rescue and take it there for a Little Orphans Animal Rescue - Cat Rescuebetter future. This investigation started a few months ago at Little Orpahn’s Animal Rescue in Montello, Wisconsin. It seemed as though I was destined to find this particular rescue, and have saved a good amount of cats that have shown up on my back deck.

Getting Involved

After taking a tour of the facility and getting know the dedicated volunteers, and the founder Sandie. I was asked to join the board of directors as the Secretary. I accepted and am now involved on a level I had no idea I would be. Being part of the mix, and watching the hard-working volunteers, who truly care for these orphan cats and dogs is a wonderful feeling. Getting involved and giving back, so that these animals will be given their “furever home”, is a beyond a just a rewarding experience. It gives me hope too, that people really do care and want to take care of their communities, while preventing suffering for those that only want to be loved and to give unconditional love.

Are you part of an animal rescue of any kind? Share your stories and comment below!