Declawing Issues

FAQ’s About Litter Box Problems & Declawing

What does it mean when my cat goes outside the litter box?

Hundreds of people have called me about litter problems and in nearly all cases, the cat was either sick or declawed.

A cat who has a litter box problem should see a veterinarian to rule out a medical problem however — most U.S. veterinarians don’t understand that pain and exercise affect the health, behavior and welfare of cats, therefore may not be adequately educated. Still, a urine test will rule out a medical issue, such as urinary tract infection. If your budget permits, a blood test can determine the kidneys and liver are functioning properly.

Never assume that a litter box problem is “behavioral” or that your cat is urinating out of spite. A lot of people say “…he looks ok…” Cats usually “look” ok but  because the cat is urinating outside the box already says that he is NOT ok – in fact, far from it. Cats are very clean by nature and an inappropriate urination problem is THE sign that something is terribly wrong. Severe stress or a really dirty litter box can sometimes bring on small bouts of litter box problems but in most cases a medical condition is the culprit (cat is sick or declawed.)

What is declawing?

Declawing is actually “de-toeing”, “toe-docking” , “de-fingering.” Claw, bone, tendons and ligaments are amputated to the first knuckle of each toe. On a human, “de-clawing” would entail taking our entire fingers off to the last knuckle. Declawing compromises the feet of an animal who uses them to cover up their waste.

He’s never peed outside the box before. Why now?

It’s really common for me to hear that “my declawed cat is fine. . . for awhile. Then he pees outside the box.” Cats are like people. Some react differently to having bones and ligaments amputated. It takes a while for the muscles and health to deteriorate after becoming permanently disabled. Some declawed cats don’t develop behavior or health problems until a few years later. Some cats right away.

Phantom limb pain plays a role in litter box problems of declawed cats. Some declawed cats react days when the barometer changes (just like people who have amputated limbs.) Cats are known to sense earth quakes before scientific machines do and having amputated limbs will make some cats all the more sensitive.

Declawing Facts

Contrary to what most American cat owners think, declawing does not “save” cats, training time, money, or sofas. It frequently does the exact opposite. Declawed cats can be expensive and dangerous to own because declawing is the number one cause of litter box problems and biting problems.

  • Declawing is an amputation of the cat’s toes to the first knuckle of each joint. Declawing removes claw, bone, tendon, and ligament.
  • A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (“Risk factors for relinquishment of cats to an animal shelter”, by Patronek, Glickman, Beck, et al., JAVMA, 1996:209:582-588) found that declawed cats were at an increased risk ofrelinquishment to animal shelters. Among relinquished cats, 52.4% of declawed cats were reported to exhibit litter box avoidance, compared to 29.1% of non-declawed cats.
  • From CourierPostOnline.com, February 1, 2003: “Eighty percent of the cats that are surrendered that are declawed are euthanizedbecause they have a behavioral problem. . . . Declawed cats frequently become biters and also stop using litter boxes . . . one or the other.” —William Lombardi, shelter director, Gloucester County, New Jersey.
  • A study of 163 cats that underwent onychectomy (declawing), published in the July/August 1994 Journal of Veterinary Surgery, showed that 50 percent suffered from immediate postoperative complications such as pain, hemorrhage, and lameness; long-term complications, including prolonged lameness, were found in nearly 20 percent of the 121 cats who were followed up in the study.
  • A study published in the January 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) found that 31 percent of 39 cats that underwent onychectomy or tendonectomy developed at least one behavior change immediately after surgery, with the most common problems being litter box problems and biting.
  • A national survey of shelters from the Caddo Parrish Forgotten Felines and Friends indicates that approximately 70 percent of cats turned in to shelters for behavioral problems are declawed.
  • From the Summer 2002 issue of PETA’s Animal Times: “A survey by a Delaware animal shelter showed that more than 75 percent of the cats turned in for avoiding their litter boxes had been declawed.”
  • According to a study published in the October 2001 issue of JAVMA by Dr. Gary J. Patronek, VMD, PhD, “declawed cats were at an increased risk of relinquishment.”
  • In three years of experience as a cat owner consultant, Annie Bruce (author of Cat Be Good) received 95% of calls about declawed cats related to litter box problems, as opposed to only 46% of calls about clawed cats—and most of those were older cats with physical ailments. Only declawed cats cost their owners security deposits, leather sofas, and floorboards. And it’s mostly declawed cats that have been prescribed painkillers, antidepressants, tranquilizers, and steroids.
  • Declawing is illegal or considered inhumane in many countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Norway, Austria, Scotland, Wales, and Portugal. In 2009, eight California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco outlawed declawing.

Note: “…behavior problems… relinquished … euthanized…” are all the things that the American Veterinary Medical Association claim that declawing is intended to stop. [emphasis added to quotes]

The above data is printable at http://www.catbegood.com/declawing/important-facts.

I heard declawing wasn’t approved by some organizations and many countries and cities have made it illegal, who?

Those opposed to declawing include the the Humane Society of the United States, The Animal Protection Institute, San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Cats InternationalThe Animal Protection Institute, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,  The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, the Cat Fanciers Association and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The British Veterinary Association and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons members refuse to perform the operation.  The RCVS guidelines specifically states: “A veterinary surgeon must not cause any patient to suffer by carrying out an unnecessary mutilation.”

Declawing is either illegal or considered inhumane: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Wales. These countries do not have shelters full of cats because they have claws or litter box problems.

Eight California cities (included Los Angeles and San Francisco) have made declawing illegal thru the diligent efforts of the Paw Project.

October 2006 the USDA made it a federal offense to declaw any large cats or wild animals such as bears, ferret and rabbits.

You say declawing doesn’t save time or money or cats, why?

Urine runs deeper than claws. With claw damage you can reupholster, cover or hide. With urine damage, you might have to throw it away. In some cases, even floorboards are replaced; security deposits and leather sofas are lost. This extensive damage is not typically reported from owners of clawed cats.

People call me about cat problems. Calls are via animal shelters, pet shops, veterinarians, referred and advertising.  Ninety-five percent of declawed cat owners are calling about a peeing problem.

  DeclawedCats Clawed cats
Calls about cat behavior  

59

 

85

Litter box problems  

56

 

39

% with
litter box problems
 

95%

 

46% **

Most of the declawed cats were under age 8 when the litter box problem began. Severe urine damage was reported by some cat owners. In each case, culprit was a declawed cat:

  • Two families had to replaced their carpets twice, as well as their floorboards.
  • Three other homes had their first and second carpets destroyed.
  • Two women lost their rental security deposit.
  • Three people lost leather sofas.

Nearly all of the declawed cat owners had not been informed of what the operation entailed or any life-long risks associated with declawing.

Visit any shelter. You will find many declawed cats who need homes “without children under four” because declawed cats often bite. Some cats have had to be put to sleep after being declawed because they couldn’t walk. Sometimes the claw will try to grow back or loose bone will cause infection, requiring subsequent painful and expensive operations.

Who knows how many cats get abandoned or re-homed because of declawing? The AVMA does not count cats after they’ve been declawed (heck, the AVMA can’t even find the cats they declawed in their own “peer reviewed studies”!)

What about adopting that cute little declawed cat in the shelter who needs a home? Shouldn’t we try to save declawed cats too? Declawed cats need homes!

Wait one minute…the American Veterinary Medical Association said THEY are the ones ‘saving’ cats by declawing them so those declawed cats shouldn’t even be in the shelter. According to the AVMA, the very NEXT ‘step’ for the cat is death, not a shelter, not a behaviorist, not another home! Why not euthanize stupid and worthless cats? Our country has plenty of smart cats that need homes. Why waste time saving cats when the AVMA couldn’t train them and don’t even think they’re worth counting. The AVMA implies that the care of declawed cats shouldn’t exceed the price of one sofa which makes declawed cats ‘worthless’ too. So if you adopt a declawed cat, please apologize to the homeless smart and trainable clawed cat in the next cage why he didn’t get picked.

Some people may think my position hurts declawed cats getting into homes but I won’t risk YOUR home to house stupid and worthless cats. Also, I don’t see veterinarians and the AVMA lifting a finger to help save the millions of declawed cats that end up in shelters due to peeing and biting problems. Saving a declawed cat sacrifices not only a clawed cat a good home, but the future of ALL cats is put at stake when any one of us accept this abuse from ‘educated professionals’. Adoption of declawed cats supports an already tragic policy and encourages barbaric practices on cats. In order to remove a bad product from the market, we need to stop buying it. Declawed cats are “stolen goods.” We cannot END declawing when we waste time and resources saving cats that the veterinarians and AVMA deems stupid and worthless.

Declawing hurts communities and clawed cats too?

Declawing leads to inferior veterinarian advice because veterinarian researchers won’t even document these inferior, pain-ridden test subjects. Declawed cats are more likely to develop cancer, diabetes, UTI but researchers won’t distinguish clawed from declawed cats.

Our communities suffer too: Millions of declawed cats are abandoned in alleys and relinquished to shelters because Americans aren’t told that declawing leads to litter box, biting and health problems.

But my cat will be living indoors only and I don’t want my stuff damaged.

YOU, your children, your home and sofa are safer housing only clawed cats. Cats were living indoors lots longer than declawing has been around. Cat litter hit the market in 1945. Declawing started in late 60′s. There was no declawing when I was a kid. In just 40 years, it’s estimated that over 45% could be declawed in the US today. Besides, dozens of other countries won’t declaw…Germany has sofas and babies too.

An indoor-only cat needs additional space and exercise. One way to accommodate this is to use carpeted cat trees. Scratching a post builds cats strong neck, shoulder, stomach and back muscles. Cats cannot exercise the same without their claws. Claws build strong muscles – the foundation of sound health and confidence. Without claws the cat is more inclined to fall off carpeted trees and hurt himself, and lessens the amount of available living-space. Declawed cats are not able to respond as quickly in the event of disaster (flood, fire – firemen open doors to allow pets to escape.)

What can I do? My declawed cat is urinating outside the box?

  • Make sure his feet are checked regularly by the veterinarian for loose bone or infection which could cause pain for him while using the litter box.
  • Never hit, spank or squirt any cat, this will only make matters worse. Gently direct the cat to his litter box.
  • Use less litter in the litter box. Then slide the litter to one end so that half the box is bare.
  • See http://www.catbegood.com/cat-behavior/litter-box-problems/  for more details for solving litter box problems.

I’ve owned declawed cats all my life. My cat pees now but I don’t believe you, it has to be something else…

Beg your pardon but you’re the one with urine damage. And since you’ve owned cats for so long why haven’t you taken the little time it takes to learn that it’s healthier, safer and easier on owners when cats to keep their claws? Cats learns very quickly. They obey verbal commands without wasting money on declawing, squirt bottles, clickers, drugs or food treats. Scratching post training is way more fun than shifting through nasty cat
litter several times a day.

What about a tendonectomy, declawing by laser and other ways to prohibit scratching?

It is claimed that cats that are declawed by laser are “able to walk sooner” after the operation. Even with laser technology, it still means the cat is now permanently and forever made to walk on his knuckles. No matter how the cat’s toes are cut off/disabled, in the end, declawing endangers the cat owner. It’s much easier and safer on the owner if her cat is able-bodied.

A tendonectomy is a surgical procedure that cuts the tendons in the cat’s toes so he can’t retract his claws or scratch. (Note: Tendonectomies are NOT recommended by the AVMA.)  The owner still has to trim his nails. Do NOT choose this option because it is still crippling the feet of an animal who uses his paws to cover his waste.

There is absolutely NO behavioral reason to disfigure any cat’s feet. YOU need your cat to scratch his post to off-load his anxiety, frustration or happiness and to build strong muscles. Exercise affects behavior, health, self-esteem, confidence.

What about other dangerous veterinarians procedures do you know about?

Sometimes when a cat develops a biting or peeing problem, owners have reported that the veterinarian will remove teeth, or remove the olfactory bulb that allows your cat to smell, or shorten his penis to help stop his peeing problems. The latter caused one of my clients cat to have horrible spraying problems and cost her in floorboards and drywall – repairs far  exceeding the price of any sofa.

Why can I do to help end declawing?

  • Look for veterinarians who refuse to declaw or tendonectomize cats (visit the websites below)
  • Foster and/or adopt ONLY clawed cats.
  • Spread the word. Most people don’t know it’s an amputation. Or that declawed cats pee a lot. You may be saving someone’s carpet, security deposit and cat, if you speak up.
  • Support “The Paw Project“, a non-profit agency working to end declawing of all cats, large and small.

It’s really quite easy to get a cat to listen. Cats are smarter than dogs and have better hearing than dogs or humans! You don’t need rocket science or destructive surgery to get a cat to behave inside your home. Just good old common sense will do it: good food and daily exercise and treat him with respect.

Annie Bruce, April 2011

p.s. Certain portions of Cat Be Good concerning declawing may be copied without consent.

Declawing Links & Resources

For more information on declawing, please visit these websites:

The Paw Project: Non-profit agency dedicated to end declawing of all cats (tigers, lions, domestic, etc.) phone 1-877-PAWPROJECT (1-877-729-7765)

2009 Petition to Outlaw Declawing - visit http://clawsforever.ning.com/ for more info.

Petition to outlaw declawing - please sign petition on declawing

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/claws.html - Consumer affairs complaint

www.de-clawing.com http://declaw.lisaviolet.com

http:www.amby.com/cat_site

www.stopdeclaw.com

www.declaw.com

www.listnow.com/helpingpaws/

http://www.listnow.com/helpingpaws/articles/article_175.html - Helping Paws, animal shelter dedicated to ending declawing

www.de-clawing.com - directory to declawing sites on the Internet

http://amby.com/cat_site/declaw.html - comprehensive anti-decalwing website

http://declaw.lisaviolet.com - has a no-declaw web ring

www.stopdeclaw.com - hall of fame/shame veterinarians

http://cats.about.com/cs/declawing/index.htm - more declawing information

http://www.sniksnak.com/cathealth/declaw.htm

www.4asap.org

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/claws.html & http://www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/claws03.html - complaints I filed with consumer affairs

www.catsinternational.org

anti-declaw t-shirts and bumper stickers  at Cafepress.com

Comprehensive book about declawing

The Shocking Truth About Declawing Cats
by Harriet Baker (The Cat Catalyst, Inc., 2000, soft cover, 290 pages)
Send $23 (includes $3 S&H) to:

The Cat Catalyst, Inc.
613 Sea Street
Quincy, MA 02169-2811

Phone: (617) 472-9618

(Just a few) Declawing letters sent to others:

November 26, 2005

Clerk of the Court
County of Los Angeles
West District - Santa Monica Courthouse
1725 Main Street
Santa Monica , CA 90401

Re: Case Number SC 084799
California Veterinary Medical Association vs. City of West Hollywood

Subject: Declawing hurts all Americans; foreseeable dangers; reckless endangerment, consumer fraud; veterinarian research not sound

To Clerk of the Court:

Please file this letter with Case Number SC 084799 – California Veterinary Medical Association vs. City of West Hollywood .

The CVMA wants to declaw cats in West Hollywood which got outlawed April 2003. The CVMA and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) claim that declawing “saves cats.”
Fact: Declawing actually puts cats, property and Americans at risk because declawed cats pee and bite.

West Hollywood outlawed declawing because domestic cats are suffering. Therefore even if the CVMA wins back rights to declaw, West Hollywood already told the CVMA that declawed cats have problems (pee, bite, get sick, prolonged lameness, infections, need medications, etc.). West Hollywood saw problems in declawed cats, therefore problems caused by declawing are foreseeable.

The AVMA can no longer act ignorant and escape consumer fraud issues. The AVMA needs to revise their position statement and tell the public just how expensive and dangerous it is to own declawed cats! Any AVMA member who recommend/declaws (even as “last resort”) should be held accountable for urine damage, cat bites, and shelters and alleys filled with peeing and biting declawed cats. I’ve called the practices of AVMA leaders— the people who wrote AVMA policy regarding declawed cats don’t practice what they preach.
Fact: Most U.S. veterinarians declaw cat. They do so without informing clients that declawed cats often pee, bite and cost a lot to own.

Declawing involves reckless endangerment or consumer fraud issues across state lines: Americans respect veterinarian advice. The AVMA in turn tell us that declawing is of no consequence. However declawing is the number one cause of litter box problems—the CVMA and AVMA have a professional duty to know the consequences of their words and actions. Declawed cats are already difficult to own, and still the AVMA says that cat owners tell vets that they are already fed up [with the cat]! Neither AVMA nor CVMA check to see if the harder-to-own-declawed-cats THEY sent home with “last resort” people survived ‘last’ resort. Remember, according to the AVMA, every declawed cat is just ONE step away from death—that fact doesn’t change just because the vet declawed the cat.

Declawing one cat jeopardizes the health and welfare of all cats, as well as risking the safety of most Americans. Declawing lowers the quality of home expected to adopt cats. These are just a few examples and facts as to why declawing one cat affects all of us:

  1. Declawing affects other cat research, drugs and medical advice. The AVMA, CVMA, veterinarian colleges and cat researchers can’t distinguish the difference between a good acting cat versus a bad acting cat. They haven’t noticed that declawed cats pee, bite, get sick, get stressed, etc. What other important things have they missed regarding cats and their health care?
    Fact: The AVMA writes: “There is no scientific evidence that declawing leads to behavioral abnormalities when the behavior of declawed cats is compared with that of cats in control groups.”
  2. Declawing disregards exercise and environment. Cat health and behavior are directly affected by pain, diet, exercise and environment [is cat living with impatient or nice people?] Does the AVMA expect cats to ‘run around’ for exercise? On sore feet? Those owners already told the vet that they didn’t have time for cat care. Declawing completely disregards exercise and environment of cats. This attitude then expects clawed cats to run around too.
    Fact: Cats control their temperature by NOT running.
    Fact: Declawed cats are more likely to be re-homed, locked in the basement, abandoned or put outside because of litter box problems.
  3. Declawing encourages “last resort” mentality onto all cats. Declawing fosters an ‘oh well, they’re just expendable cats, save sofas first….” attitude. Declawing encourages people to think that cat care should cost less than their sofa.
    Fact: Declawing hurts cats. Some cats never get over the pain. Pain and disability challenge each cat’s health and ability to escape danger (floods, fire, disaster, other cats bad, dogs and people).
  4. Declawing makes all domestic cats ‘smell’ bad, look bad. Declawed cats pee, client wasn’t told, then people assume all cats pee or bite.
    Fact: Declawing is the number one cause of litter box problems in cats.
  5. Homeless declawed cats overwhelm shelters, communities, alleys. Shelters feel responsible to ‘save’ cats that veterinarians said they were ‘saving’.
    Fact: Millions of declawed cats live in garages, alleys and shelters across our country due to peeing and biting problems.
    Fact: The AVMA does not count/track/document declawed cats that pee, bite, live in basements, alleys and shelters, contract diabetes or cancer, UTI, etc.
  6. The AVMA subtly implies that cats are stupid, worthless and that cat care shouldn’t cost more than a sofa. The AVMA says that they have to declaw cats: ‘Those cats couldn’t be trained [stupid] and was about to loose its home over sofa scratching problem.’ In other words, sofas worth more and cat health and welfare are worth less?  Why expect others to spend money on cats? The AVMA suggests that most cats are stupid and worthless and about to die anyway.
    Fact: The AVMA claims that declawed cats couldn’t be trained, and that the owner wanted their cat ONE step away from death. The AVMA grants permission for veterinarians to amputate healthy toes and to cater to ‘last resort’ people.
    Fact: Declawed cats are expensive and dangerous to own. Costs to resolve and repair damage from litter box and biting problems often exceed the cost of a sofa.
    Fact: Clawed cats are smart, trainable, safe, fun and easy to own.

Declawing one cat affects all of us. The higher standard for cats we set in our own minds, the better home and better medical care cats will receive in our physical world. Cats are smart and trainable and deserve first class homes. Cats should never be declawed.

I never recommend others take home declawed cats. In my book, Cat Be Good (ISBN: 1-59337-411-9, Adams Media, page 8.): “As a cat lover and Cat Owner Consultant, I have moral, ethical and legal obligations to make only safe and sound recommendations to people regarding cats. I will always advise people to never bring home a declawed cat because I know these cats are dangerous and expensive. I would be liable, negligent and fraudulent to recommend cats that frequently bite people, urinate on sofas, destroy floorboards and lose security deposits. People are better off owning clawed cats.”

The majority of U.S. veterinarians don’t see the pain and homelessness THEY cause by declawing cats. The AVMA, veterinarian schools and cat researchers don’t observe that declawed cats are stressed out, in poor health (UTI, cancer, diabetes…) and have poor behavior (pee and bite). Veterinarian colleges do not teach how to train cats nor care how to exercise cats. Vet researchers test on subjects that are already inferior and weird and they don’t even notice. I no longer trust veterinarian perception of cat reactions to drugs and therefore I don’t believe veterinarian care is trustworthy. Unfortunately, I have concluded that veterinarian advice is not practical, ethical or reliable. Even if the veterinarian doesn’t declaw, his/her education and research comes from very shaky grounds.

Declawing puts me and my profession in a precarious situation: I’m a cat owner consultant. My job is to advise others about cats. How can I, and why should I, recommend that others take their cat to a veterinarian? American veterinarians and their education and practice do not consider that claws affect the health and welfare of all cats. . . . cat care isn’t worth one sofa. What can I possibly tell family, friends and clients about the “quality” of veterinarian care in America ?

Most U.S. veterinarians declaw and consider themselves heroes for ‘saving cats’ by declawing them . . .  who saves declawed cats? Where are those ‘heroes’? ? ?
Fact: Until vets stop declawing all cats, millions of declawed cats will continue to get abused and abandoned for biting and litter box problems. And millions of cat owners will be kept in the dark.

Sincerely,

Annie Bruce
Author of Cat Be Good
Good Cats Wear Black
PO Box 11265
Boulder CO 80301
Phone 303-530-9000

cc:
Mr. Alberto R. Gonzales
U.S. Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20530-0001

###

April 30, 2004

Ms. Susan Logan, Editor

CAT FANCY
P.O. Box 6050
Mission Viejo, CA 92690-6050

Email: SLogan@FANCYPUBS.COM

Subject: Cat Fancy’s omission could seriously affect homes, cats & children; Dr. Bruce Elsey claims; AVMA leaders ignore own policy

Re: October 2003 issue, pages 26-30, “Litter-ature Class”; June 2004 issue, pages 35-39, “Kitty, please use the litterbox!”, articles written by Dr. Becker and Dr. Willard.

Dear Ms. Logan,

In Cat Fancy’s October 2003 and June 2004 issues, Dr. Marty Becker, DVM and Dr. Janice Willard, DVM wrote articles about litter box problems. Not once did they mention the most common cause of litter box problems [declawing.] I now question the information your magazine gives to cat owners: Such an omission is like reporting on lung cancer and not mentioning cigarettes!

In July, 2003, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) held their national convention in Denver which I attended as a staff reporter for Animal Radio. In the media room, I talked personally with Dr. Janice Willard. I gave her my book, Cat Be Good. I strongly expressed to her how declawing cats leads to homelessness and health and litter box problems. I emailed Dr. Becker on this subject also. Unfortunately, Dr. Becker and Dr. Willard, as well as the AVMA, have not responded to my warnings, data or advice.

I noticed Dr. Becker’s litter box article surrounded a four page advertisement regarding Dr. Bruce Elsey’s “Cat Attract cat litter.” Dr. Elsey says he’s “dedicated to maintaining a happy, healthy life for cats”—yet he declaws them for $79! (See http://www.allcatclinic.com/medical.html) No where on his website or cat-litter package does Dr. Elsey mention that declawing is the worst cause of litter box problems in cats! Two years ago I made several attempts to talk and meet with Dr. Elsey in his Denver office, concerning the litter box problems of declawed cats. He did not answer my phone calls or letters.

For your information:

I attended the AVMA conference for four days. On several occasions I tried to interview Dr. Gail Golab, DVM, AVMA liaison of the Animal Welfare Committee. I waited in the media room many times. The receptionist confirmed she had conveyed my messages to Dr. Golab more than once.

Dr. Golab never returned my phone calls or met with me. However, she had time to talk about dogs in her dog bite prevention seminars. The AVMA convention seemed geared only for dogs and people who’d rather help dangerous dogs who bite than help Americans avoid owning expensive and dangerous cats! (Cats with litter box and/or biting problems pose as many safety, liability and cost issues as dogs who bite people.)

A month later (August 2003) Animal Radio visited Chicago. They tried to arrange an interview with Dr. Golab. She did not respond. Cats outnumber all other pets in America and the AVMA didn’t have time to talk about them!

For years I have made phone calls to top officials of the AVMA veterinarian practices. Again, in January 2004, I made phone calls to most AVMA Executive Board members who have small animal veterinarian private practices. I wanted to see if the new  guidelines (published March 2003) were being implemented by the AVMA officials who wrote the new policy. Things haven’t changed. Every executive board member that I called will declaw cats without any ‘justification’ from cat owners.

I called the AVMA Executive Board private practices and asked what it would cost to declaw my cats. They asked me ‘quotes for both front and back paws?’ Some added, ‘…we don’t recommend declawing all four paws if the cat goes outside but we’ll do it anyway.’ (I never said that I was going to give up my cats or have them destroyed.) I asked if they knew of any side effects from declawing. They said ‘none’. I reminded them that pain and infection must be side effects because they told me that pain killers and antibiotics are ‘included in the price’ of declawing!

None of the veterinarian clinics mentioned that urine damage is a common side effect from declawing. None of them asked what ‘attempts’ I’d made to train my cats. It did not matter to them what scratching posts I had or had not provided. They did not care if my cat is smart, trainable, blind, deaf, diabetic, stressed,  or 9 years old. They would declaw it. None of these veterinarian practices would provide training on how to teach cats to use a scratching post!

On 1/13/04, I talked specifically with a nurse who worked for the current president of the AVMA. She did not describe the operation, but said that the doctor will “remove the claws so they don’t grow back.” [Declawing is more than just ‘removing the claws’.] I asked her if Dr. Jack Walther will ask me about any scratching post training I have tried. Her response was, “none of that will be asked.”

The AVMA says declawing cats is ok as the ‘last resort’ – supposedly veterinarians are ‘saving lives’ when they succumb to owners who threaten cats with death. The AVMA writes, “Where scratching behavior is an issue as to whether or not a particular cat can remain as an acceptable household pet in a particular home, surgical onychectomy may be considered.” —I’ve written the AVMA many times and asked them: what kind of  ‘responsible’ cat ownership is the AVMA/veterinarian encouraging when they give cats to anyone who wants their cat disabled?  I got no response.

But declawing is not a ‘last’ resort. Declawing does not stop all behavior problems, it starts many more. Cats that bite people or urinate everywhere are put outside, dumped in alleys, locked in garages, given away or destroyed. It’s harder for declawed cats to re-locate to a new home, be adopted by another family, or survive in the wilderness. (Many unaltered declawed cats get deserted in the wild. It’s easier and cheaper for ‘last resort owners’ to let cats die a ‘natural death’. People who admitted having impatience for cats, typically don’t have the fortitude to have their peeing, declawed cats humanely put to sleep.)

Knowledgeable “cat behaviorists” never recommend declawing. Experienced cat behaviorists do: 1) know how to make cats behave 2)  know that claws allow cats to build muscles, and 3) understand that pain and diminished exercise adversely effects cats health and behavior, which in turn, leads to homelessness.

When ‘experts’ like Dr. Becker and Dr. Willard don’t mention the fact that declawing cats frequently leads to litter box problems, it is hard for me to believe them. I wonder what other information about cats has been compromised in your magazine?

Dr. Becker and Dr. Elsey both agree that house soiling (not sofa scratching) is “the most common” behavior problem leading to people getting rid of cats. Yet they haven’t realize that millions of declawed cats get abused or abandoned because they urinate outside the box ‘for no apparent reason’! Has Dr. Elsey bothered to track the cats he has declawed or has examined in his own practice? (To ensure declawing indeed ‘saved’ both cat and sofa? Did each cat survive it’s “last” resort? Or did the cat lose it’s home and did the sofa just get peed on instead [of  getting clawed]?)

Dr. Becker, Dr. Willard and Dr. Elsey, and all veterinarians, need to know that declawing does NOT ‘save cats, sofas, time or money’—it does the exact opposite: Declawed cats are dangerous and expensive to own.

Declawed cats constantly get overlooked by veterinarians in cancer, diabetic, homelessness and feral research. In most private practices, veterinarians don’t even document in each cat’s chart that the bed-wetter has 10-18 toes amputated! I’ve been told that veterinarians working in spay/neuter clinics “don’t have time to count the declawed feral cats brought in to get fixed.” (Veterinarians have 11 minutes to declaw each cat but no time to count or track any of them!)

It should be the job of cat behaviorists and veterinarians to warn people about the risks involved when bringing home a declawed cat. Increased cat urination and biting are serious problems which Cat Fancy and veterinarians should warn us about. Cat Fancy needs to hire writers who report cat issues which concern our cat’s health and behavior as well as cat-behavior that affects our livelihood, our homes and our children.

Please hire writers who will let people know of the dangers, expenses and drawbacks of owning declawed cats.
Thank you,
Annie Bruce

author of Cat Be Good, www.goodcatswearblack.com

p.s. On April 6th, I sent a letter at Good Cats Wear Black to every veterinarian university dean in the country concerning the lack of education veterinarian students receive regarding cat behavior. I included a label on each letter which read, “Declawing affects health and behavior. Please track every declawed cat in your research.”  (Most veterinarians tell me they declaw cats for the sake ‘saving’ them. Then, they don’t bother to count, track, document, research or SAVE declawed cats! Then again—why should anyone save homeless declawed cats? The AVMA’s own position on cats suggests that declawed cats are “un-trainable” and one step away from death anyway. There is an endless stream of homeless, smart clawed cats.)

cc:

The Honorable Ms. Ann E. Veneman
USDA Secretary
1400 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20250
agsec@usda.gov

Food and Consumer Service (FCS)
USDA, Personnel Division, Room 623
2101 Park Center
Alexandria, VA 22303

Timothy J. Muris, Chairman
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20580

Mr. Robert S. Mueller III, Director
FBI
601 4th Street NW
Washington DC 20535

The Honorable Mr. John Ashcroft
U.S. Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dr. Marty Becker, email

Dr. Bruce Elsey, DVM
All Cat Clinic
3998 S. Broadway
Englewood, CO 80110
info@preciouscat.com

Ms. Betsy Lipscomb
Cats International
193 Granville Rd.
Cedarburg, WI 53012

Ms. Esther Mechler, Director
Spay USA
750 Port Washington Blvd, Suite B
Port Washington, NY 11050

Dr. John Berg, DVM, DipACVS
Catnip, Editor-in-Chief
Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine
200 Westboro Road
North Grafton, MA 01536

Mr. Tmothy H. Cole, Editorial Director
Cat Watch
Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine, Box 7
Ithaca, NY 14853-6401

Animal Rescue & Adoption Society, 2390 S. Delaware, Denver, CO 80223
I Love Cats, Ms. Lisa Allmendinger, Editor, yankee@izzy.net
Ms. Harriet Baker, The Cat Catalyst, email
Mr. Hal Abrams, Animal Radio, email
The Paw Project, info@pawproject.com
Ms. Rene Knapp, Helping Paws, email
Mr. Gary Lowenthal, email
Humane Society of the United States, Ms. Nancy Peterson, email
Friends of Animals, info@friendsofanimals.org
Political Voice for Animals, pva@pva-colorado.org
Angels With Paws, Ms. Diane Romano, email
Ms. Louis Holton, Alley Cat Rescue, email
Ms. Jennifer Orme, American Humane, email
Dr. Grant Turnwald, AAVMC Publications Committee, turnwald@mail.vt.edu
Rocky Mountain News, letters@RockyMountainNews.com
Denver Post, openforum@denverpost.com
Daily Camera, Boulder, Colorado, Mr. Clay Evans, evansc@dailycamera.com
(end of letter. Backside has “Declawing Resources”)

__________________________

 April 6, 2004

Dr. Alan M. Kelly, Ph.D.
Dean of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
3800 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6044

Subject: Veterinarian students need more knowledge of cats

Dear Dr. Kelly,

Thank you for sending me Dr. Karen Overall’s address.

Please consider offering a course on cat behavior at your university. It is obvious that most veterinarian students could use basic education on cat behavior—given that most veterinarians (as Dr. Overall and others clearly indicate) don’t know or understand how important claws are to cat exercise, health and behavior.

The University of  Pennsylvania could become the leader in cat education by teaching simple basics regarding cats. Currently, no college teaches how diet and exercise deeply effects cat care, expense, safety and actions. Please consider sharing my “basics of cat behavior” with your animal behavior department. I have enclosed a copy of my book, Cat Be Good : A Commonsense Approach to Training Your Cat especially for you.

Both your professors and students need to realize that declawing (besides the pain and suffering it causes cats) makes them expensive and dangerous to own, due to the higher risk of litter box and/or biting problems. Cats never need to be declawed!

Please teach your students about scratching post training and the dangers of declawing. Most veterinarians don’t provide instructions on how to train a cat to use his post! They don’t inform clients that declawing is illegal in many countries. Most veterinarians don’t warn that declawed cats more often pee outside the litter box, bite people or chew on wood or computer cords. Americans need to know that declawing helps neither cat, sofa, nor cat owner.

Cats deserve good homes and good health. Cats need veterinarians who will educate owners. Cats don’t need “last resort” mentality.

The University of Pennsylvania could pave the way to help both cats and their owners by teaching a commonsense approach to cat behavior. Please use my book/philosophy in your classrooms. I provide simple techniques for owning healthy and well-behaved cats. (I personally sent a copy of Cat Be Good to every veterinarian university medical library in the United States in August, 2001.)

For more information, please call me anytime at 303-530-9000 or visit,www.goodcatswearblack.com.

Annie Bruce

author of “Cat Be Good”

p.s. My cats are taught to come when called, to use their scratching post, to stay in the yard and to walk on a leash. Cats are very smart and easy to train!

p.s.s. My letter to Dr. Overall got returned, her new address is ‘not deliverable’ but that’s ok, I emailed her.

cc:

Dr. Karen Overall, Faculty, University of Pennsylvania, email: overallk@vet.upenn.edu

Dr. Lawrence Heider, Executive Director
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
AAVMC/VMCAS Washington, D.C. Staff
1101 Vermont Avenue, NW Suite 710
Washington, DC 20005-3521
leheider@aavmc.org 

Dr Donald Walsh, JVME Editor
Journal of Veterinary Medical Education
Department of Medicine and Epidemiolgy
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California, Davis, CA 95616
dawalsh@ucdavis.edu

Dr. Michael Lorenz, Chair, AAVMC Publications Committee
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
College of Veterinary Medicine
Oklahoma State University
205 Veterinary Medicine
Stillwater, OK 74078-2005
Fax: 405-744-6633
Mlorenz@okway.okstate.edu

The Editor, Veterinary Forum
Veterinary Learning Systems
275 Phillips Boulevard
Trenton, NJ 08618
Fax (609) 882-6357

Dr. Linda Blythe, AAVMC Publications Committee
Associate Dean of Academic & Student Affairs
College of Veterinary Medicine
Oregon State University
200 Magruder Hall
Corvallis, OR 97331-4801

Dr. Robert Jones, AAVMC Publications Committee
Assistant Dean, Prof. Vet. Med. Curriculum
Dean’s Office
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1601
Fax: 970-491-2250
rjones@cvmbs.colostate.edu

Dr. Grant Turnwald, AAVMC Publications Committee
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech Duckpond Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Fax: 540-231-9290
turnwald@mail.vt.edu

American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine
PO Box 119
Winterville, GA 30683

Dr. Lynne Seibert DVM, President
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB)
15123 – 78th Avenue NE
Kenmore, WA 98028

Animal Behavior Society
Indiana University
2611 East 10th Street #170
Bloomington IN  47408-2603

Editor-in-Chief
Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association
2218 Old Emmorton Road
Bel Air, MD 21015
Fax: 1-410-569-2346

Consumers Union
101 Truman Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10703-1057

Ms. Teri A. Barnato, MA
Association of Veterinarians for Animals Rights (AVAR)
PO Box 208
Davis, CA 95617-0208

(27 veterinarian colleges in the United States.)
Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Auburn University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Auburn University, AL 36849

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Tuskegee University
School of Veterinary Medicine
Tuskegee, AL 36088

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
University of California
School of Veterinary Medicine
Davis, CA 95616-8734

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Western University of Health Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
309 East Second Street – College Plaza
Pomona, CA 91766

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Colorado State University
College of Vet Med & Biomedical Sciences
Fort Collins, CO 80523

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
University of Florida
College of Veterinary Medicine
Gainesville, FL 32610-0125

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
University of Georgia
College of Veterinary Medicine
Athens, GA 30602

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
University of Illinois
College of Veterinary Medicine
2001 South Lincoln Urbana, IL 61801

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Purdue University
School of Veterinary Medicine
1240 Lynn Hall
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1240

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Iowa State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Ames, IA 50011

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Kansas State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Manhattan, KS 66506

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Louisiana State University
School of Veterinary Medicine
Baton Rouge, LA 70803

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Tufts University
School of Veterinary Medicine
200 Westboro Road
North Grafton, MA 01536

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Michigan State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
East Lansing, MI 48824-1314

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
The University of Minnesota
College of Veterinary Medicine
St. Paul, MN 55108

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Mississippi State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Mississippi State, MS 39762

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
University of Missouri
College of Veterinary Medicine
Columbia, MO 65211

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Ithaca, NY 14853-6401

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
North Carolina State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
4700 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27606

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
The Ohio State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Columbus, OH 43210

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Oklahoma State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Stillwater, OK 74078

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Oregon State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Corvallis, OR 97331-4801

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
University of Tennessee
College of Veterinary Medicine
Knoxville, TN 37901

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Texas A&M University
College of Veterinary Medicine
College Station, TX 77843-4461

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech & University of Maryland
College of Veterinary Medicine
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0442

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Pullman, WA 99164-7010

Dean of Veterinary Medicine
The University of Wisconsin-Madison
School of Veterinary Medicine
Madison, WI 53706

Professor Gary L. Francione
Adjunct Professor Anna E. Charlton
Rutgers Law School
123 Washington Street
Newark, New Jersey 07102

### (end of letter. Reverse side is “Facts About Declawed Cats”)

_______________________________________________________

December 22, 2003    (US mailed, emailed & faxed)

Dr. Dan Stinchcomb, Vice President of Research and Development
Heska Corporation
1613 Prospect Parkway
Fort Collins, CO 80525
Faxed: 1-970-472-1640
Email: market@heska.com

Subject: Heska’s microalbuminuria data overlooked declawed cats

Dear Dr. Stinchcomb,

In September 2003, Heska sent me information on the “New Data: Prevalence of Microalbuminuria in Cats”.

Heska states that for the 1243 test subjects, “Veterinarians reported the health status of each cat prior to microalbuminuria testing at a centralized laboratory.” [emphasis added]

From observing them, I know that declawed cats cannot ‘exercise’ the same as clawed cats. (Declawed cats cannot strengthen shoulder, neck, back and stomach muscles by scratching posts; and their attitude is complicated from pain.) Declawed cats often contract illnesses and weird behavior which more likely require urine tests, and drugs or special care. Therefore I needed to know what percentage of cats in your study were declawed. On 11/11/03, I called Heska and talked with Ms. Nancy Weisnewski. She told me she was in charge of the study.

Sadly, Ms. Weisnewski did not document declawed cats. I was disappointed that she justified not documenting declawed cats because she thought declawing had nothing to do with microalbuminuria. How can any scientist or researcher assume such conclusions when no data was collected to prove otherwise?

Not tracking declawed cats in cat studies is like researching cancer and not asking which subjects smoked cigarettes!

Claws, strong muscles, pain and exercise have everything to do with the health and behavior in cats. Even though the AVMA claims otherwise, it is well known amongst cat experts that declawed cats pee outside the box more than non-declawed cats.

Based on my three years of data collection I determined that declawing is the number one cause of litter box problems in cats—consequently, declawed cats are more likely to need lab work such as your “E.R.D.-Healthscreen Urine Tests.”

It’s unfortunate that I had to explain to Ms. Weisnewski that declawing effects pain, behavior, health and exercise in every cat that gets declawed. Pain and exercise influence health and behavior. I also told Ms. Weisnewski that based on reports from cat owners who have called me about cat problems, declawed cats cost more to own and have worse behavior and illness problems than clawed cats!

How did Heska “verify” the health of ‘each’ cat? What questions were asked about each cat ‘prior to testing’ to determine ‘health status’? Amputation, pain, diminished exercise, stress, and living on the brink of homelessness or death  (AVMA claims declawing is ‘last’ resort), should be major factors in mental and physical conditions of any test subject. Researchers should always differentiate between declawed and clawed cats—whether it is a study on cancer, diabetes, hair loss, skin disorder, behavioral problem, homelessness, of ferals, etc.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) claims that declawed cats behave the same as clawed cats. That is false. Clawed cats usually don’t urinate outside the litter box unless they are sick or old. It’s declawed cats who are more often surrendered to cat shelters, destroyed, abandoned and abused. (Data supporting my claims is posted on my website www.goodcatswearblack.com.)

It is in the best interest of people, cats, and their homes that animal shelters and cat professionals recommend people own clawed cats only.

I have written the AVMA many times about the threats declawed cats pose to humans and our communities. Unfortunately they have chosen to disregard my data, warnings and advice.

Declawed cats are more likely to:

·        experience pain (in fact, ALL declawed cats suffer pain after surgery. Pain effects health and behavior.)
·        develop litter box problems
·        bite people, hurt children
·        suffer urine disorders, diabetes, cancer
·        require drugs (pain killers, anti-depressants, steroids, tranquilizers, insulin)
·        cost more to own because of increased cat litter maintenance, veterinarian visits, and destroyed sofas, floorboards, carpets, beds, etc. (due to peeing outside the box.)
·        be easily stressed by changes and their ability to function in the environment
·        be abused, abandoned or destroyed (declawed cat ‘behavior’ problems are usually worse than clawed cats, forcing them to live with people who already think little of cats.)

In every study on cats Heska should always ask owners and veterinarians of each and every cat:

1.      Does the cat suffer any physical disabilities? Document all disabilities. (Loss of limbs, fingers/toes, hearing, sight, etc. Disabilities often cause pain and stress which effects health and behavior. Factor in the percentage of cats who are declawed.)

2.      How does the cat exercise? How long and how often does the cat scratch posts/trees, climb, jump, and run? Or does he just sleep?

3.      How long does the cat sleep?

4.      At what age were the cats declawed?

5.      Does the cat have litter box problems? (Litter box problems in cats are a sign of stress or illness.)

6.      What is the cat eating? Does he eat the same meal everyday? (Diet effects behavior.)

7.      Does cat go outside? (From personal experience, indoor-only cats tend to be more ‘crazy’ and suffer more kidney problems too.)

8.      Is cat on verge of losing it’s home? (i.e., Is owner currently considering euthanasia of cat due to health or litter box problems? A loving or hateful environment effects stress and attitude which may help or hinder physical ailments.)

9.      Has the cat been properly handled (by humans) throughout it’s life? Or has it been abused?

The truth is there. And urine damage is very expensive to fix. Owners of declawed cats are truly suffering though most don’t know why. Due to the effects pain and disablements potentially have on the health and behavior of each cat and it’s owner, any study on cats should always document every cat that is declawed. Please count all declawed cats in all of your studies. Cat owners deserve to know the high costs and dangers that are usually associated with housing declawed cats.

I look forward to hearing that you will be documenting all declawed cats in future studies.

Thank you,

Annie Bruce
Good Cats Wear Black
PO Box 11265
Boulder, CO 80301
Tel: 303-530-9000
www.goodcatswearblack.com

cc:

Mr. Robert Grieve, CEO
Heska Corporation
1613 Prospect Parkway
Fort Collins, CO 80525

Ms. Nancy Weisnewski
Heska Corporation
1613 Prospect Parkway
Fort Collins, CO 80525

Dr. Bruce Alberts, chair of National Research Council
The National Academies
500 5th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

Mr. Mark McClellan, FDA Commissioner
Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857

Morris Animal Foundation
45 Inverness Drive East
Englewood, Co 80112-5480
Fax: (303)790-4066

Executive Board
The Winn Feline Foundation
1805 Atlantic Avenue
P.O. Box 1005
Manasquan, NJ 08736-0805

Email winn@winnfelinehealth.org

Dr. Emily Weiss, PhD, Wichita, Kansas, Curator of Behavior and Research, Sedgwick County Zoo, Animal Behavior Consultant, Kansas Humane Society, Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Wichita State University, Animal Behavior Consultation and Instructor, American Humane Association, email

The International Institute for Humane Education
PO Box 260
Surry, MI 04684
Fax: (207) 667-1025

American Humane Association
63 Inverness Drive East
Englewood, Co 80112-5117
Fax: (303) 792-5333

Political Voice for Animals
PO Box 12201
Denver, Co 80212
Email:  pva@pva-colorado.org
Faxed: 720-855-3034

American Animal Hospital Association
P.O. Box 150899
Denver, CO  80215-0899
Fax: (303) 986-1700
Email info@aahanet.org

http://givevoicetoanimals.org/

Consumers Union
Consumer Policy Institute
101 Truman Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10703-1057

Executive Board
Animal Behavior Society
Indiana University
2611 E. 10th St.,
Bloomington, IN 47408-2603
Fax: 812-856-5542

North Shore Animal League
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY 11050
nsal1@aol.com

Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.
Mr. Robert Wheeler, CEO
P.O. Box 148
Topeka, KS 66601-0148

Animal Legal Defense Fund
fax (707) 769-0785
email: action@aldf.org

Ms. Lee Ann Germinder
Germinder & Associates
fax 1-816-228-5539

Harriet Baker
613 Sea Street
Quincy, MA 02169

Paw Project, Email: info@pawproject.com

December 31, 2003    (US mailed, faxed, emailed)

Dr. Karen Overall, Faculty
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
3800 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Subject: Cats exercise their muscles by using a scratching post; declawing renders cats dangerous, expensive, inferior

Re: Cat Fancy, December 2003, p 17, “Hitting the Mark with Scratching”

Dear Dr. Karen L. Overall, MA, VMD, PH.D,

I read your article published in Cat Fancy, December 2003 issue. You stated, “what most people fail to acknowledge are the social and olfactory components of scratching.” Then I noticed you failed to mention the primary reasons why cats scratch—from decades of observing them I know that cats scratch to exercise their muscles and relieve their stress. Cats can also gratify their social and olfactory needs by spraying, peeing or rubbing their face and body on objects, however, scratching (on trees/posts) is the primary mode of exercise for cats. Not ‘running around’.

Cats sleep and scratch, they do not run and pant. Cats turn to their scratching posts when they are frustrated, angry, happy or sad – just like people who “work out” in gyms — cats scratch to work their muscles and ease tension. They keep their body in shape for ‘the hunt’ by using claws to pull and tug. Pulling and tugging builds and strengthens muscles on this animal, which sleeps 18 hours a day.

There really is no secret or mystery to cat behavior. Cats are just like people. Diet, exercise, pain, abuse, upbringing, effects the cost of our health and behavioral care. Information about cat behavior is available in my book, “Cat Be Good”,  and on my website:www.goodcatswearblack.com .

Disabilities, pain, scratching and exercise have everything to do with the health and behavior of each and every cat. Strong muscles lead to high self-esteem (behavior), better health and fewer medical bills. A cat that is declawed is “disabled” and therefore at higher risk of suffering pain, illness, abuse and abandonment.

Through years of experience I have found that declawed cats do not “exercise” the same, they don’t cost the same nor do they act the same as clawed cats. I have written to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and veterinarian organizations many times. I have explained why cats scratch and why claws are important to a cats health, to the cat owner, our communities and cat shelters. They have chosen to ignore my data, warnings and advice.

Declawing makes cats dangerous and expensive to own because declawed cats pee outside the litter box and bite people a lot. But the AVMA denies these detrimental side effects caused by declawing. In my opinion, the AVMA and any veterinarian who declaws cats is dangerously increasing the risks of urine damage and biting of children by cats. HIV/AID victims, bleeders, homes (floorboards, carpets, beds, drywalls) and rental apartment deposits are put more at risk when someone brings home a declawed cat.

NO one should recommend that people harbor these dangerous, high risk and high maintenance cats. Urine runs deeper than claws. Urine damage and cat bites are worse and more dangerous than any damage a cat can do with it’s claws. It’s easier and more fun to train clawed cats to use a scratching post than it is to get most declawed cats to use a litter box!

Besides peeing and biting problems, declawed cats quite often require drugs and have pain, poorer health, depression, inferior muscles and balance. All of these problems have cost many cat owners a lot of time, money and tears.

Most people don’t know that owning a declawed cat requires the patience of a saint and the bank account of a very rich man.

With claws, it’s easy to exercise cats. Without claws, good luck. Declawed cats are unable to strengthen upper body muscles (neck, shoulders, stomach, back) by grasping/pulling on scratching posts. Carpeted cat trees provide more exercise and expand the living space for clawed cats. But declawed cats are clumsy and fall a lot. And phantom limb pain may add further complications to it’s behavior. It’s ridiculous to make cats ‘run around’ to keep trim and fit. Mutilating it’s feet then expecting the cat to cost the same, exercise the same, or behave the same—is a crazy, unprofessional and cruel expectation of cats.

Dozens of other nations have outlawed declawing. They don’t have shelters packed because “my cat has claws!” Overseas shelters aren’t swamped with excessive peeing, biting, difficult cats. Americans and homes are safer when owning clawed cats only.

My knowledge about cats is that:

  • Diet, exercise, pain, self-esteem & environment affects behavior.
  • Cats are SOCIAL creatures. Cats only hunt alone, they prefer company the rest of the time. It’s very hard on a cat to be alone most of the time.
  • Cats are smarter than dogs. They’re also cheaper to maintain and easier to train.

For more information on cat behavior, please visit www.goodcatswearblack.com. Or  read, “Cat Be Good” or call me anytime 303-530-9000.

Thank you,

Annie Bruce, author
www.goodcatswearblack.com

cc:

Ms. Sandy Meyer, Senior Editor
CAT FANCY
P.O. Box 6050
Mission Viejo, CA 92690-6050

DVM Newsmagazine
7500 Old Oak Blvd.
Cleveland, Ohio 44130
Fax: (440) 891-2675
dvmnewsmagazine@advanstar.com

Dean
University of Pennsylvania
3451 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

University of Pennsylvania
Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center
610.925.8100 Office Fax
Department of Clinical Studies, Philadelphia
215.573.8183 Office Fax

Katherine A. Kruger, MSW
Assistant Director, Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society
Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
3900 Delancey Street, Room 2068
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6010

Dr. Bruce Alberts, chair of National Research Council
The National Academies
500 5th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dr. Emily Weiss, PhD, Wichita, Kansas, Curator of Behavior and Research, Sedgwick County Zoo, Animal Behavior Consultation and Instructor, American Humane Association, emailed

Animal Behavior Society
Indiana University
2611 East 10th Street #170
Bloomington IN  47408-2603

Ms. Lisa Allmendinger, Editor
I Love Cats
16 Meadow Hill Lane
Armonk, NY 10504

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB)
Lynne Seibert DVM, President
15123 – 78th Avenue NE
Kenmore, WA 98028

Banfield, Attn: Legal Dept.
11815 NE Glenn Widing Drive
Portland, OR 97220

American Humane Association
63 Inverness Drive East
Englewood, Co 80112-5117
Fax: (303) 792-5333

AVAR, emailed

Political Voice for Animals
PO Box 12201, Denver, Co 80212

PETA, Fax: 757-622-0457, E-Mail PETA at info@peta.org

http://givevoicetoanimals.org/

info@pawproject.com

Harriet Baker, 613 Sea Street, Quincy, MA 02169

(end)

__________________________

July 25, 2003

Ms. Bridget C. Johnson, Editor
CAT FANCY
P.O. Box 6050
Mission Viejo, CA 92690-6050

Re: August 2003 Cat Fancy issues, page 4, 10

Subject Declawing RISKS cats, Americans, sofas.  AVMA denies dangers and expenses when owning declawed cats

Dear Ms. Johnson,

I am a cat owner consultant in Boulder, Colorado. And I wrote the award winning book, “Cat Be Good”. Thank you for bringing the declawing issue to the forefront in your August 2003 issue.

Cat Fancy could help spread the truth and reveal all possible dangers of owning declawed cats. Americans need to know the truth to make informed decisions that affect our children, house and livelihood.

Contrary to what most American cat owners think, declawing does not ‘save’ cats, training time, money, or sofas. It frequently does the exact opposite. Declawing actually jeopardizes homes, children, cats, sofas, floors, walls, beds and rental deposits. Declawed cats can be expensive and dangerous to own because declawing is the number one cause of litter box and biting problems. Urine runs deeper than claws. Instead of covering up scratch damage, a urine soaked sofa is often carted to the dump.

In my opinion, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) position statement on declawed cats is detrimental to Americans and cats. It lowers the quality of owner considered ‘suitable’ to take home cats and it misleads people into thinking declawed cats are as safe to own as clawed cats—which they are not.

The following are quotes from the AVMA position statement on declawing, and my responses:
AVMA:

“Declawing of domestic cats should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing presents a zoonotic risk for its owner(s).”

Annie Bruce:

  • NO one should bring home a declawed cat. Declawed cats pose higher risks to people and property. Children, HIV victims and bleeders especially should not own declawed cats due to the increased risk of bites.
  • Why do cats get blamed for not being ‘trainable’? With dog bites – the owner may be partly responsible according to the AVMA. At the AVMA National Conference, Denver, Colorado 7/20/03, Dr. Gail Golab, DVM, staff consultant for animal welfare and behavior issues, said about dog bites, “…it’s not about the dog, it’s about the owner and responsible pet ownership…” Then Dr. Golab proceeded to give advice on how to avoid dog bites. But the best way to prevent litter box problems is not to bring home declawed cats!
  • It should be considered ‘poor veterinarian-ship’ to give cats to people who already threatened it with death/shelter. And veterinarians should be concerned about the urine damage and biting many clients will suffer after bringing home a declawed cat.
  • I’ve called dozens of veterinarian clinics around the country, including the veterinarian practices of the AVMA’s ‘animal welfare committee’. All said  they would declaw my cats, “no problem, just bring them in!” I didn’t even say that I wanted my cat declawed. I needed no reason. I received no education.
  • Kittens who get declawed aren’t even given a chance to prove how smart and trainable each cat can be. Cats are smarter than dogs and easier to train.

AVMA:

“Where scratching behavior is an issue as to whether or not a particular cat can remain as an acceptable household pet in a particular home, surgical onychectomy may be considered.

Annie Bruce:

  • This is the famous, but sadly misrepresented: ‘last resort’ excuse. The AVMA justifies declawing because they claim it ‘gives the cat a home’ (the owner has supposedly threatened the cat with death/shelter if cat doesn’t get declawed.) But the AVMA should consider such threats as ‘irresponsible ownership.’ Cats need GOOD homes, not homes would demand the cat BE one step before death.
  • AVMA studies on declawing don’t check to see if all test subjects actually kept his home [remained in the house] as the AVMA claims. In one study, 41 of 98 cats (41%) could not be located by then end of the study. I suspect many of those 41 missing cats are living in dumpsters now due to pee problems.
  • Declawed cats often develop behavior problems after declawing. But veterinarians usually don’t check to see if the declawed cat survived the family who scheduled death as the next alternative. Did the cat live? Keep his home? Or did he develop expensive litter box problems and was given away? If dealing with claws earns the cat death, then sifting through litter, getting bit, fixing urine damage, administering medications, repairing chewed computer cords will also earn the cat abuse. A cat with worse problems won’t last long in ‘last resort’ type environments .
  • Purebreds worth hundreds of dollars aren’t on the ‘verge of losing it’s home.’ Yet purebreds get declawed without question.
  • “Responsible ownership” respects fact that diet and exercise control cat behavior. (Clawed cats build upper body muscles. Cats don’t run around to strengthen muscles, they scratch.)
  • In “I Love Cats” Nov/Dec 2002 issue, page 50, Dr. Golab DVM of the AVMA said, “if owners with a low tolerance for behavior problems are more likely to declaw their cats to begin with, they may also have low tolerance for litter box problems.” Therefore the AVMA must realize that veterinarians are the only ones giving potentially dangerous cats to low tolerant people. Giving cats to low tolerant people does not encourage ‘responsible ownership’ in cat owners.

AVMA:

“Scientific data do indicate that cats that have destructive clawing behavior are more likely to be euthanatized, or more readily relinquished, released, or abandoned, thereby  contributing to the homeless cat population.”

Annie Bruce:

  • If this is true, then it’s foreseeable that that litter box problems and cat bites also leads cats to homelessness.
  • Cats require time and attention. And declawed cats often require even more money, time and patience. It’s easier to train clawed cats to use a post than to get declawed cats to use a litter box or to stop biting.

AVMA:

“There is no scientific evidence that declawing leads to behavioral abnormalities when the behavior of declawed cats is compared with that of cats in control groups.”

Annie Bruce:

The fact that veterinarians have to “study” the effects of cutting off cats toes is bizarre in itself. But then to deny their own results, is even more incredible!:

  • In the AVMA’s own ‘expert peer reviewed’ study on declawed cats, published 1/1/01 in the JAVMA, 28-33% cats suffered one or more post-op behavioral changes (house soiling, cat biting, prolonged lameness, etc.)

In addition:

·         Published 2/1/03 on CourierPostOnline.com, “Eighty percent of the cats that are surrendered that are declawed are euthanized because they have a behavioral problem…. Declawed cats frequently become biters and also stop using litter boxes… ” said William Lombardi shelter director, Gloucester County, New Jersey. (Note: “80% surrendered…euthanized…behavioral problems”….all the things declawing was suppose to stop.)

  • A study of 163 cats that underwent onychectomy (declawing), published in the Jul/Aug 1994 Journal of Veterinary Surgery, showed that 50% suffered from immediate postoperative complications such as pain, hemorrhage, and lameness;  and long-term complications, including prolonged lameness, were found in nearly 20% of the 121 cats who were followed up on in the study.
  • A national survey of shelters from the Caddo Parrish Forgotten Felines and Friends indicates that approximately 70% of cats turned in to shelters for behavioral problems are declawed.
  • From the Summer 2002 issue of PETA’s Animal Times: “A survey by a Delaware animal shelter showed that more than 75% of the cats turned in for avoiding their litter boxes had been declawed.”
  • In a study published October, 2001, JAVMA by Dr. Gary J. Patronek, VMD, PhD., “…declawed cats were at an increased risk of relinquishment.”
  • In my own three-year study, 95% of calls about declawed cats related to litter box problems, while only 46% of clawed cats had such problems—and most of those were older cats with physical ailments. Only declawed cats cost their owners security deposits, leather sofas or floorboards. And it’s mostly declawed cats that have been prescribed pain killers, anti-depressants, tranquilizers and steroids.  I get 25 times the number of calls on declawed cats peeing on sofas than I got about cats who scratch sofas.

AMVA:

“Declawed cats should be housed indoors.”

Annie Bruce:

  • Indoor-only cats living space gets expanded when they are able to climb carpeted cat trees. Declawed cats often fall off [cat trees] and may hurt themselves.
  • Dictating that the declawed cat must be kept “indoors only” is not good advice. Especially with declawed cats—outside is the most frequently chosen “last” resort because going outside often alleviates litter box problems. Peeing-declawed cats lives get saved or extended when allowed outside.
  • Most people who call me about their declawed cat, let the cat outside.

AVMA:

“The AVMA believes it is the obligation of veterinarians to provide cat owners with complete education with regard to feline onychectomy.”

Annie Bruce:

  • This is an excellent provision. However, ‘complete education’ must include the fact that declawing leads many cats to litter box and biting problems. And clients should be informed that many nations have made declawing illegal.

The AVMA offers seminars to help veterinarians save the lives of dangerous dogs who have bitten people. Even dogs who’ve been known to kill women and children—the AVMA seems willing to work with. But the plight and suffering of declawed cats continues to be ignored and forgotten. Declawing has led millions of cats to litter box problems and abandonment and those cat owners have suffered property damage. Declawed cats are being abused, surrendered, destroyed and abandoned to live in feral colonies due to behavior problems. Unfortunately my complaints to the AVMA have fallen on deaf ears.

Veterinarians in most other parts of the world refuse to declaw cats. They consider declawing mutilation, and therefore cruel and inhumane. Those countries don’t have masses flocking to the shelter, saying, “here, take my cat, he has claws!” And overseas shelters are not burdened with peeing/biting declawed cats.

Sincerely,

Annie Bruce

author of  “Cat Be Good”, cat owner consultant

www.goodcatswearblack.com

cc:

People Magazine – Fax 1-212-522-0794

Cat Fancy  – email BJohnson@FANCYPUBS.COM

Paw Project  – email ThePawProject@aol.com

AVAR – email

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Tufts University – email

Mr. Gary Lowenthal – email

Ms. Harriet Baker, The Cat Catalyst

Catnip magazine – CatnipLetters@hotmail.com

Boulder Daily Camera, Ms. Julie Marshall – email

Better Business Bureau – Fax: 1 (703) 525.8277

Ms. Nancy Peterson – Humane Society of the United States – email

Committee on Law and Justice, The National Academies, FAX: 202-334-3829

Mr. Robert S. Mueller III, Director
FBI
601 4th Street NW
Washington DC 20535

Consumers Union
Consumer Policy Institute
101 Truman Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10703-1057

Mr. John Ashcroft

U.S. Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East-West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814-4408

Ms. Mabel McKinney-Browning, Division Director
American Bar Association
Division for Public Education
541 N. Fairbanks Ct., 15.3
Chicago, IL 60611-3314

Ms. Melanie Ann Pustay, Deputy Director
Office of Information and Privacy
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

Public Relations Director
Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037

Dr. Janis H. Audin, DVM, Editor-in-Chief
JAVMA – AVMA Schaumburg Office
1931 N. Meacham Rd., Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360

Dr. Steven Renard, DVM
Hancock Veterinary Clinic OFC
1930 Keokuk Street
Hamilton, IL  62341

Dr. John S. Parker, DVM
Briar Point Vet Clinic
47330 W. 10 Mile Road
Novi, MI 48374

end

___________________________________________

July 10, 2003

Executive Director
Pet Assure
10 South Morris St
Dover, NJ 07801

Subject: High drug use, veterinarian bills and property damage of declawed cats & insurability issues

Dear Pet Assure,

I am a Cat Owner Consultant in Boulder Colorado and author of the award winning book, “Cat Be Good : A Commonsense Approach to Training Your Cat.”

I have found that declawed cats are more likely to urinate outside the litter box. Declawed cats ruin floors, walls, beds, and lose security deposits because of urine damage. I’ve also noticed declawed cats see more veterinarians; contract diabetes more often; and require more drugs (anti-depressants, pain killers, tranquilizers and steroids) than clawed cats. In my opinion, declawed cats are dangerous and expensive for people to own.

In a three year period, I got 25 times the number of calls about declawed cats peeing on sofas than I got about cats who scratch sofas. People have spent a lot of money on drugs and urine tests trying to fix the pee problems of their declawed cats. Also, declawed cats chew computer cords and bite people more often than clawed cats.

If you were to analyze the claims made for cats, I’m sure you will find that you pay more for declawed cats.

Considering the dangers declawed cats pose to humans & children, and the expenses they often incur (health and behavior problems), it doesn’t seem reasonable that owners of clawed cats should pay the same premiums as declawed cat owners. You should either raise insurance premiums if cat gets declawed (warning clients beforehand), or stop insuring the declawed cat altogether. Any involvement with declawed cats can risk floorboards, rental deposits, people and cats.

Please call 303.530.9000 or email me at annie@goodcatswearblack.com. I look forward to hearing from you about this serious matter.

Thank you,

Annie Bruce

author, cat owner consultant
phone: 303.530.9000
www.goodcatswearblack.com

CC:

Executive Director
Petshealth Care Plan
PO Box 2847
North Canton, OH 44720

Executive Director
Pet Protect®
830 Anchor Rode Drive
Naples, FL 34103

Executive Director
Premier Pet Insurance Group LLC
9541 Harding Blvd.
Wauwatosa, WI 53226

Consumers Union
Consumer Policy Institute
101 Truman Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10703-1057

Enc: Facts About Declawed Cats, by Annie Bruce, June 2003

____________###_______________________________________________________________

March 25, 2003

Assemblyman Mr. Paul Koretz
State Capitol, Room 2176
Sacramento, CA 95814-0042

Subject: New AVMA declawing statement risks property, security deposits, cats

Dear Assemblyman Mr. Koretz,

The AVMA recently announced a new statement regarding declawed cats. The revised guidelines are an improvement, however, they are incorrect regarding behavior. The AVMA claims:

There is no scientific evidence that declawing leads to behavioral abnormalities when the behavior of declawed cats is compared with that of cats in control groups.

But there is evidence which indicates that declawed cats pee outside the box, bite people and are re-homed/relinquished at higher rates than clawed cats.

This AVMA statement contradicts its own ‘expert peer reviewed’ study on declawed and tendonectomized cats published 1/1/01 in the JAVMA. Cornell veterinarians revealed 28-33% cats suffered one or more post-op behavioral changes (house soiling, cat biting, prolonged lameness, etc.) Also, published 2/1/03 on CourierPostOnline.com, “Eighty percent of the cats that are surrendered that are declawed are euthanized because they have a behavioral problem…. Declawed cats frequently become biters and also stop using litter boxes… One or the other…,” said William Lombardi shelter director, Gloucester County, New Jersey.

The AVMA states it will now provide “complete education” to clients regarding declawing. But in order to fully educate clients, veterinarians must acknowledge and disclose all foreseeable dangers: declawed cats cost more to own, bite people, pee all over the house, can’t walk, etc. Full disclosure is necessary to help humans and to save cats.

The truth about declawed cats is:

·          Declawed cats cost more time and money: Declawed cats are more likely to urinate outside the litter box, bite people, use drugs/insulin, require special litters, urine tests, clean litter boxes, veterinarian and behaviorist visits. Declawed cats ruin property, loose floorboards, drywall, sofas, beds and security deposits due to peeing problems. (HIV/AIDS victims or bleeders especially, should not own declawed cats. Housing a cat who pees a lot could lose the patient his/her apartment. And risk of infection and need for antibiotics is higher when bitten by a cat.)

·          Declawing is permanent disablement and disfigurement of an animal.

·          Cats scratch trees to strengthen muscles. All cats scratch, declawed or not, because that’s how cats exercise. Not by running. It’s really hard to get any cat to “run around”—let alone, run around on damaged feet. Cat trees adds living space for clawed cats kept indoors only.

·        Declawing endangers the cat’s physical and emotional health:  toes may become infected and require subsequent operations; cat may not be able to walk after surgery and must be destroyed; diabetic cats should watch their toes; declawed cats fall off of furniture more easily; declawed cats cannot escape dog attacks as readily as clawed cats; phantom limb pain; depression (some declawed cats personalities change and are never the same again); easily stressed; etc.

·        Declawing is NOT the “last” resort. Declawing does NOT save cats. Declawed cats are more often put outside or isolated, re-homed, abandoned and surrendered.

Dictating that the declawed cat must be kept “indoors only” is unreasonable. Outside is the most frequently chosen “last” resort because going outside often avoids/reduces/stops  behavior problems. (Peeing-declawed cats lives get extended when allowed outside.)

The AVMA’s justifies declawing because they claim it save lives. But when an owner still demands declawing after being ‘completely educated,’ then the AVMA should wonder whether this kind of owner can provide a good home. A harder-to-own cat is being given to someone who already made it very clear that death is the next and only option. All cats deserve good homes—not homes who demand a cat be only one step away from death.

Besides the pain, homelessness and abuse declawed cats are forced to endure—declawed cats are not safe or inexpensive for people to own. In my opinion declawing constitutes  fraud, negligence and animal cruelty. Therefore, it is in the best interest for all Americans and cats for the AVMA to revise it’s statement and to never recommend declawing.

Sincerely,

Annie Bruce

author of Cat Be Good, cat owner consultant

cc:
California State Assembly, PO Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249:
The Honorable Chairman Lou Correa, Assemblymember, 69th District
The Honorable Vice Chair Shirley Horton, Assemblymember, 78th District
The Honorable Greg Aghazarian, Assemblymember, 26th District
The Honorable Rudy Bermudez, Assemblymember, 56th District
The Honorable Ellen Corbett, Assemblymember, 18th District
The Honorable Mark Leno, Assemblymember, 13th District
The Honorable Abel Maldonado, Assemblymember, 33rd District
The Honorable Bill Maze, Assemblymember, 34th District
The Honorable Joe Nation, Assemblymember, 6th District
The Honorable Juan Vargas, Assemblymember, 79th District
The Honorable Mark Wyland, Assemblymember, 74th District
The Honorable Leland Yee, Assemblymember, 12th District

U.S. Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dr. Jennifer Conrad, DVM
The Paw Project
PO Box 445
Santa Monica, CA 90406-0445

Ms. Lisa Allmendinger, Editor
I Love Cats
16 Meadow Hill Lane
Armonk, NY 10504

Consumers Union
Consumer Policy Institute
101 Truman Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10703-1057

Consumers’ CHECKBOOK Headquarters
Research Department
733 15th street NW, Suite 820
Washington, DC 20005

Ms. Harriet Baker
Author of “The Shocking Truth About Declawing Cats”
613 Sea Street
Quincy, MA 02169

Executive Board
Pet Care Insurance (PetCarePals.com)
3315 East Algonquin Road
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008

Executive Board
Veterinary Pet Insurance (petinsurance.com)
P.O. Box 2344
Brea, CA 92822-2344

Executive Board
Washington Mutual Insurance Services
17861 Von Karman Blvd.
Irvine, CA 92614

Dr. Gail C. Golab, PHd, DVM
AVMA Schaumburg Office
1931 N. Meacham Rd., Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360

AVMA President
AVMA Schaumburg Office
1931 N. Meacham Rd., Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360

Dr. Richard Schumacher, Executive Director
California Veterinary Medical Association
 (CVMA)
1400 River Park Drive
Sacramento, CA  95815

Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, DVM
Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine
200 Westboro Road
North Grafton, MA 01536

Dr. Anthony Schwartz, DVM, Ph.D.
Director of The Tufts Animal Expo
Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine
200 Westboro Road
North Grafton, MA 01536

Committee on Law and Justice
The National Academies
500 5th Street, NW – W1107
Washington, DC 20001

Committee on National Statistics
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
500 Fifth Street, NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20001

Faxed:

Mr. James Hahn, Mayor, City of Los Angeles (213) 978-0656
Mr. Rocky Delgadillo, City Attorney, City of Los Angeles  (213) 847-3014
Mr. Terree Bowers, Chief Deputy City Attorney, Los Angeles (213) 847-3014
The Sacramento Bee,  Letter to the Editor (916) 321-1109

__________________________________###________________________________________

 

March 14, 2003

Dr. Richard Schumacher, Executive Director

California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)
1400 River Park Drive
Sacramento, CA  95815

Subject: Declawing is NOT “last” resort; declawed cats expensive/dangerous to keep

Dear Dr. Schumacher,

I read in “The Sacramento Bee” that the CVMA and some California veterinarians defend declawing as a “last” resort. I am a cat owner consultant in Boulder, Colorado. I never recommend that people take home any declawed or tendonectomized cat. Declawed cats cost more to own, they ruin property by peeing on it and they hurt people by biting them.

Declawing is NOT the “last” resort. When the declawed cat pees outside the litter box or bites people, the owners will justify (as they did with declawing) other “better than death” options: giving the cat drugs, spanking/squirting/hitting the cat, locking the cat in the basement, putting him outside, giving the cat away or dumping him in an alley.

In eight years I’ve had very few calls regarding sofa-scratching problems. And I have received hundreds of complaints about declawed cats peeing on sofas. They have ruined floorboards, drywall, beds and sofas, and lost security deposits.

Cats behave best when they are not overwhelmed with amputation, phantom limb pain and the constant stress of having to catch itself from falling. Cats are better able to handle abuse, abandonment, illness, re-homing, when they have claws. Claws enable the cat to grab. This pulling action builds strong muscles. Declawed cats cannot strengthen all of it’s muscles (muscles that clawed cats can access.) Having a strong body manages stress and augments confidence, health and behavior. And as in diabetics, it’s best for the patient to keep all of his toes safe and intact.

The AVMA’s position is “Declawing of cats is justifiable when the cat cannot be trained….”  I do not believe that 40 million cats[1] are ‘not trainable.’ And the ones who aren’t trainable shouldn’t be allowed around humans.

I wrote the award-winning book, “Cat Be Good : A Commonsense Approach to Training Your Cat.” It has detailed instructions on how to get a cat to listen without declawing, drugs, squirt bottles or clickers. I sent a copy of “Cat Be Good” to every veterinarian medical library in the country. There is no reason to disfigure any cat.

Many countries have made declawing illegal and regard declawing and tendonectomies as “unethical mutilations.” Those countries don’t have shelters packed with cats with litter box problems or because “the cat has claws.”

Declawing should never be used as any resort. Declawed cats are not safe or cheap to own. It’s safer for people to adopt clawed cats only.

Sincerely,

Annie Bruce

author of Cat Be Good and cat owner consultant

Good Cats Wear Black
PO Box 11265, Boulder, Colorado 80301
Phone: 303.530.9000

Email: info@goodcatswearblack.com
Web: www.goodcatswearblack.com

Cat Be Good by Annie Bruce ISBN 0-9674062-0-X
cc:

Dr. Kenneth A. Schenck, DVM
6420 Freeport Boulevard
Sacramento, CA  95822

Assemblyman Mr. Paul Koretz
State Capitol, Room 2176
Sacramento, CA 95814-0042

Letter to the Editor
The Sacramento Bee
2100 Q St., P.O. Box 15779
Sacramento, CA 95852
(copy U.S. mailed and faxed to (916) 321-1109)

Dr. Jennifer Conrad, DVM
The Paw Project
PO Box 445
Santa Monica, CA 90406-0445

Email sent to Mr. Dan Smith, author of “Paws for concern”, The Sacramento Bee, smith@sacbee.com

 


[1] I have read various sources that the declawed cat population in the US ranges from 25-70%. Based on my phone calls, I estimate approximately 50% of American cats are declawed. There were 0% declaws in 1960.

__________________________________

 

February 6, 2003

Ms. Lisa Allmendinger, Editor
I Love Cats
16 Meadow Hill Lane
Armonk, NY 10504

Re:  I Love Cats, Nov/Dec 2002 issue, “Will Declawing Harm Your Cat?”

Dear Ms. Allmendinger,

Thank you for printing “Will Declawing Harm Your Cat?” by Ambuja Rosen in the I Love Cats magainzine Nov/Dec 2002 issue. Great journalism! Ms. Rosen asked very important questions of the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA). This letter is in response to Dr. Golab’s comments from that article:

Dr. Golab says the AVMA “okays declawing partly because otherwise many cats would lose their homes.” In reality, declawed cats are more likely to lose their homes because declawed cats have more ‘behavior’ problems—problems which are worse than clawing. Declawed cats who pee all over are much harder ‘to save’ than cats who scratch. A survey by a Delaware animal shelter showed that more than 75% of the cats turned in for avoiding their litter boxes had been declawed.  I get 25 times the number of calls about declawed cats peeing on sofas than I get about clawed cat who scratch sofas.

Dr. Golab says that veterinarians “regularly council clients about all aspects of cat ownership.” In 8 years and hundreds of consultations calls, no one has ever said, “yes, my veterinarian warned me that my cat might stop using the litter box or bite people after getting declawed—but I had it done anyway.” Also, I’ve called dozens of veterinarian clinics around the country as well as the AVMA board of directors of the “animal welfare committee” veterinary practices. I asked how much it would cost to declaw my cats and about training them. I never said I was going to have my cats “put down” or that “I tried to train them.” I did not say that I even wanted my cats declawed. No veterinarian required any “justification” to declaw my cats. For some I didn’t even need an appointment —“just bring them in.” When I asked if they would declaw a cat who is deaf, blind, diabetic or one missing limbs they responded, “no problem.” Most veterinarian offices knew “nothing about training a cat.” And none of them asked me about any ‘individual’ cat. (Note: Each one of my cats is extremely smart.)

Dr. Golab stated that people who call me have “low tolerance” for litter box problems. All cat owners hate litter box problems, not just those who call me. The people who don’t call me have litter box problems too. They just call someone else or decided what to do without a consultant. And what they do usually includes: abuse, spanking/kicking, putting the cat outside, force them to live in basements, garages, dumpsters, alleys, and euthanasia.

Dr. Golab stated that “Every case needs to be treated individually.” The fact is, there is never a good reason to declaw any cat. Cats don’t run for exercise, they scratch! Cats need to exercise on their scratching post, not just sit around and sleep and eat.

The AVMA’s position is “Declawing of cats is justifiable when the cat cannot be trained….”  I do not believe that 40 million cats[1] are ‘not trainable.’ And the ones who aren’t trainable shouldn’t be allowed around humans. Most owners are not informed about the serious consequences of declawing. I never recommend that people take home any declawed or tendonectomized cat. It’s safer for people to adopt/harbor clawed cats only.

Dr. Golab says that “Intuitively, I’d say that the relative number of cats experiencing obvious long-term complications is small.” Then she says, “There isn’t enough reliable data on which to base sweeping claims about the long-term impacts of declawing.” I’ve written the AVMA asking them to find the cats they have already declawed in their own studies. The declaws we see in American shelters represents a fraction of the ones who are not wanted. My clients have suffered incredible property damage from their declawed cats.

Dr. Golab’s suggests “new research.” But we have enough peed on sofas and pain-filled and unwanted declaws to prove they need to stop doing this.

Dr. Golab claims that veterinarians take a “financial loss” on declawing. Based on my phone calls, owners of declawed cats spend a fortune trying to stop urine damage. Declawed cats are more likely to require drugs/insulin, specialty cat litters, urine tests, carpet and sofa replacements, behaviorists, extra litter boxes, etc. And some cats are unable to walk after being declawed and must be destroyed. Declawed cats also chew and ruin computer cords.

Dr. Golab says we need to ‘be careful when interpreting Annie Bruce’s data.’ But if you read the JAVMA 1/1/01 study and add up all the cats with post-op problems, 28-33+% cats experienced at least one or more problems. And, 41 of 98 cats (41%) could not be located by then end of the study. This suggests that the percentage of peeing or unwanted declawed cats could be much worse. But the conclusions of the study did not consider the implications these “behavioral” problems have on cats or cat owners/the public. With such disastrous results (28%+), the AVMA/JAVMA should have warned all Americans of the dangers of owning such cats and why they won’t do it anymore. Instead their conclusion was that tendonectomies are better than declawing!

Dr. Golab recommends that the client “discuss [declawing alternatives] with your veterinarian.” It is the responsibility of the veterinarian to inform us that declawing a cat can risk our home, livelihood and cat.

Veterinarians justify declawing cats when clients demand declawing as the only alternative to putting the cat to sleep or surrendering it to a shelter. And then the veterinarian returns to that person, an even harder-to-own cat. These veterinarians don’t follow up to see how the so-called ‘last resort’ (declawing) held up. Is the cat still living? Many declawed cats go home only to develop litter box or biting problems. Most of these are dumped in alleys, locked in basements, kept outside. And the JAVMA declawing study had 41% of the cats missing by end of the study.

In 8 years of cat consulting, not one veterinarian has ever referred a client to me whose cat was scratching the sofa. The proper action for cats that scratch furniture is scratching post training. That will work almost every time. And if training doesn’t work, a clawed cat has more options left: can be kept outside, given to a shelter[2] or a new home. A declawed cat that pees outside the litter box has almost no viable options—especially when a cat owner demands “declawing or else!”

Many countries have made declawing illegal and regard declawing and tendonectomies as “unethical mutilations.” Those countries don’t have shelters packed with cats with litter box problems or because “the cat has claws.”

Declawing cats, in my opinion causes worse problems than it solves and declawed cats are dangerous to own. Declawing does not save the cat or sofa. It puts them both at risk. For the sake of both cat and owner, all veterinarians should stop declawing and tendonectomies of all cats—and tell the public why. People deserve to know the truth. This issue affects our homes, our time and our cats.

Sincerely,

Annie Bruce

author of Cat Be Good and cat owner consultant

Good Cats Wear Black
PO Box 11265, Boulder, Colorado 80301
Voice: 303.530.9000
Email: info@goodcatswearblack.com

Web: www.goodcatswearblack.com

Award winning Cat Be Good by Annie Bruce ISBN 0-9674062-0-X

cc:

Dr. Gail C. Golab, PHd, DVM
Assistant Director, Professional and Public Affairs Communications Division
AVMA Schaumburg Office
1931 N. Meacham Rd., Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360

Ms. Ambuja Rosen, writer
I Love Cats
16 Meadow Hill Lane
Armonk, NY 10504

Mr. Harry W. Hockman, Publisher
I Love Cats
16 Meadow Hill Lane
Armonk, NY 10504

AVMA Animal Welfare Committee Chairman
AVMA Schaumburg Office
1931 N. Meacham Rd., Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360

AVMA President
Dr. Howell, DVM
AVMA Schaumburg Office
1931 N. Meacham Rd., Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360

Dr. J. Audin, editor-in-chief JAVMA
AVMA Schaumburg Office
1931 N. Meacham Rd., Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360

American Association of Feline Practitioners
200 4th Avenue North, Suite 900
Nashville, Tennessee 37219

President George Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20502

Animal Legal Defense Fund
Joyce Tischler, Esq.
127 4th Street
Petlauma, CA 94952

Ms. Rene Knapp
Helping Paws, Inc.
PO Box 476
Colchester, Connecticut  06415

Bruce Wagman, Esq.
UC Hastings College of Law
200 McAllister St.
San Francisco, CA 95102

Lewis Clark Law School
10015 SW Terwillinger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219

Animal Rights Legal Foundation, Inc.
108 North Columbus Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Professor Gary L. Francione
Adjunct Professor Anna E. Charlton
Rutgers Law School
123 Washington Street
Newark, New Jersey 07102

Dr. Suzanne Hetts, PhD **
Animal Behavior Associates
4994 S. Independence Way
Littleton, CO 80123

Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman
Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine
200 Westboro Road
North Grafton, MA 01536

Dr. Anthony Schwartz, D.V.M, Ph.D.
Director of The Tufts Animal Expo
Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine
200 Westboro Road
North Grafton, MA 01536

Dr. Jennifer Conrad, DVM
The Paw Project
PO Box 445
Santa Monica, CA 90406

Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC)
1220 19th Street, NW Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036

Dr. Peter L. Borchelt, Ph.D.
Animal Behavior Consultants, Inc.
2465 Stuart Street
Brooklyn, NY 11229

Dr. Katherine A. Houpt, VMD, Ph.D.
Department of Physiology
College of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14852-6401

Dr. Daniel Q. Estep, Ph.D.  **
Animal Behavior Associates, Inc.
4994 S. Independence Way
Littleton, CO 80123

Ms. Teri A. Barnato, MA
Association of Veterinarians for Animals Rights (AVAR)
PO Box 208
Davis, CA 95617-0208

Dee Ann Walker, CAE, Executive Director
American Board of Veterinary Practitioners
530 Church St., Suite 700
Nashville, TN 37219

Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, Ph.D Chair,
Animal Behavior Society ABS Board of Professional Certification
ASPCA
424 E. 92nd Street,
New York, NY 10128

Dr. Eli Barlia, Ph.D.
Animal Behavior Institute
P.O. Box 251
Royal Oak, MI 48068

Dr. Suzanne B. Johnson, Ph.D.
Animal Behavior Associates
P.O. Box 27
Beaverdam, VA 23015

Dr. Sue. M. McDonnell, Ph.D.
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
New Bolton Center
Kennett Square, PA 19348

Dr. Karen Overall, DVM, Ph.D.
School of Veterinary Medicine
Department of Clinical Studies – Phil.
3900 Delancey Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6010

Dr. Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D.
Animal Behavior Counseling Services
2288 Manning Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Companion Animal Problem Solvers, Inc.
Greater Atlanta Veterinary Group
1080 N. Cobb Parkway, N.E.
Marietta, Georgia 30062

Dr. Barbara S. Simpson, Ph.D. DVM, ACVB.
The Veterinary Behavior Clinic
6045 US Hwy 1 North
Southern Pines, NC 28387-8614

Dr. Kim Barry, Ph.D.
Pet Behavior Solutions
3311 A Hampton Rd.
Austin. TX 78705

Mr. James Hahn, Mayor, City of Los Angeles, Fax (213) 978-0656
Mr. Rocky Delgadillo, City Attorney, City of Los Angeles  Fax (213) 847-3014
Mr. Terree Bowers, Chief Deputy City Attorney, Los Angeles, Fax (213) 847-3014

Major media outlets: 60 Minutes,  Dateline,  48 Hours,  20/20, etc.


[1] I have read various sources that the declawed cat population in the US ranges from 25-70%. Based on my phone calls, I estimate approximately 50% of American cats are declawed. There were 0% declaws in 1960.

[2] Many shelters don’t really like to accept declawed cats and will say “sorry, we’re full”. And recently, Helping Paws animal sanctuary in Connecticut announced that they refuse to accept declawed cats.

** Below is the response I received from Dr. Hetts and Dr. Estep (regarding the letter above dated 2/6/03, sent to 36 people):

__________________________###___________________________________________________

June 11, 2002

Dr. Gail C. Golab, PHd, DVM,
Assistant Director, Professional and Public Affairs Communications Division
AVMA Schaumburg Office
1931 N. Meacham Rd., Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360

Subject: Homeowners & renters need to be warned that declawed cats have caused worse property damage than clawed cats

Dear Dr. Golab,

Someone should be telling people about the costs and dangers when harboring a declawed cat. The percentage of declawed cats who have expensive behavior problems, is significant. Millions of dollars of property is at risk by housing declawed cats.

As a cat owner consultant, I have logged hundreds of calls and found that:

  • Declawed cat owners have an increased risk of: litter box maintenance; lost floorboards, drywall, carpet, sofas, beds and security deposits because of urine damage; getting bit; chewing damage; and having to give up the cat (giving cat away, abandoning cat or having him euthanized.) Declawed cats have more diabetes, depression, litter box problems and drug use than clawed cats.
  •   Declawing or tendonectomies do NOT “saves lives, sofas or cats.” They do the exact opposite. Both operations damage the feet of an animal who uses his paws to cover potent urine. Urine and biting problems of declawed cats are more dangerous and more expensive to solve than litter box, biting or scratching problems of clawed cats. Urine and teeth penetrate deeper than claws.

Of my calls, it’s only declawed cats who have lost security deposits, leather sofas and floorboards. Only declawed cats have damaged computer cords and wood/furniture by chewing on them. It’s declawed cats that people want to get rid of. Clawed cats do not have the same problems. When a clawed cat has a litter box problem, he is nearly always  sick or old.

I wrote the award-winning book, “Cat Be Good : A Commonsense Approach to Training Your Cat.” It has detailed instructions on how to get a cat to listen without declawing, drugs, squirt bottles or clickers. I have sent a copy of “Cat Be Good” to every veterinarian medical library in the country. My book is available in bookstores nationwide. There is no reason to disfigure any cat.

Most people would not choose to declaw their cat if they understood:

1.     that urine and biting dangers increase when owning a declawed cat

2.     declawing is actually “de-toeing” (amputation of bone, tendon & ligament)

3.     declawing is illegal in many countries (Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Wales, etc.)

Please consider developing a policy of informing the public about this serious matter.

My phone is 303.530.9000 or email annie@goodcatswearblack.com. My website is www.goodcatswearblack.com. Please call anytime.

Sincerely,

Annie Bruce

speaker, publisher, author, cat owner consultant

enc: AVAR interview Summer 2001, “How To Have A Good Cat”

cc:

  1. Ms. Gina Bolton, Group Sales Manager, Veterinary Pet Insurance
  2. Ms. Renee Shively, Washington Mutual Insurance Services

3.     Mr. Mark Warren, President and Chief Executive Officer, Pet Care – Pet Insurance Programs

4.     American Renters Association

5.     Ms. Madelyn H. Flannagan, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association

6.     National Association of Independent Insurers

7.     Dr. J. Audin, JAVMA

8.     AVMA President

9.     AVMA Animal Welfare Committee Chairman

10.  Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver, Executive Director, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB)

11.  Dee Ann Walker, CAE, Executive Director, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners

12.  Dr. Stanley O. Hewins, Executive Vice President, American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine

13.  Dr. Lynne Seibert, A.C.V.B., President, American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB)

14.  C. Guy Hancock, President, American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians (AAHABV)

15.  Dr. Diane Eigner, President, American Association of Feline Practitioners

16.  Dr. Joanne Guglielmino, President Elect, American Association of Feline Practitioners

17.  Mr. Dennis D. French, president elect, American Board of
Veterinary Practitioners, Inc.

18.  Ms. Ann T. Loew, EdM, Executive Director, American College of Veterinary Surgeons

19.  Executive Director, VCA Antech Inc., Veterinary Centers of America

20.  Executive Director, Animal Behavior Society

21.  Dr. Michael D. Beecher, President, Animal Behavior Society

_________________________###______________________________________________________

The follow is a letter I sent to the AVMA and renowned behaviorists regarding declawed cats posing a public threat. I got no response:

September 19, 2001

Dr. Janis H. Audin, DVM, Editor-in-Chief
JAVMA – AVMA Schaumburg Office
1931 N. Meacham Rd., Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360

Subject: The responsibility of the American veterinarian

Dear Dr. Audin,

Thank you for responding to my letter.

I strongly recommend that no more studies be done on declawed cats. Owning declawed or tendonectomized cats should be considered hazardous and a public threat. There is enough evidence to support that owning a declawed risks the cat’s life, your time and furniture. A pee problem can result in worse damage as well as having the cat put down. The public has a right to know this. I believe the AVMA has a responsibility to tell them.

Diet and exercise should be taught in veterinarian schools as the primary methods for controlling cat behavior. The fundamentals for exercising cats are: Cats don’t run for exercise or to hunt. They sleep, stalk and scratch.  It’s hard enough to get a cat to run, let alone on sore feet. Cats exercise by scratching and will turn to their post when they are happy, frustrated or anxious. A stronger cat is healthier. Carpeted cat trees and scratching posts help build muscles and expand the living space for indoor clawed cats. A declawed cat can fall off and hurt himself.

It’s really easy to get a cat to listen. After all, cats are smarter than dogs and have better hearing than dogs or humans. I haven’t attended college and I can make cats behave without declawing, squirt bottles or drugs. I am confident that the American veterinarian could do the same. My cats use their post, are claw and teeth conscious, come when called and are trained to stay in the yard. It took only minutes a day.

We can work together to make things better for people and cats. I will share my knowledge of cats with anyone who will pass it on. There is simply no reason to be treating cats this way.

If declawing and tendonectomies were no longer done, the United States would hold a brighter future for all cats and their owners.

Please call me anytime at 303.530.9000.

Sincerely,

Annie Bruce
cat owner consultant

Good Cats Wear Black
P.O. Box 11265
Boulder, CO 80301

Phone 303.530.9000
www.goodcatswearblack.com

p.s. Any portion of my award-winning book, “Cat Be Good : A Commonsense Approach to Training Your Cat,” that concerns declawing may be copied without permission. (Cat Be Good, ISBN 0-9674062-0-X, published by Good Cats Wear Black.)

cc:

AVMA President, Dr. James H. Brandt
AVMA President-Elect, Dr. Joe M. Howell
The Dean of Tufts University, Dr. Philip C. Kosch, D.V.M.
The Dean of Cornell University, Dr. Donald F. Smith
AAHA Trends Editor
Journal of the AAHA Editor
Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman D.V.M.
Dr. Gary M. Landsberg D.V.M.
Dr. Gary Patronek V.M.D., Ph.D.
Ms. Harriet Baker, The Cat Catalyst, Inc.

___________________________________________

October 18, 2002

Board of Directors

Pet Care Insurance (PetCarePals.com)

3315 East Algonquin Road

Rolling Meadows, IL 60008

Subject: Tracking drug use, diabetes, vet trips and property damage of declawed cats

Dear Pet Care Insurance,

I am a Cat Owner Consultant in Boulder Colorado and author of the award-winning book, “Cat Be Good : A Commonsense Approach to Training Your Cat.”

As a cat owner consultant, I have found that declawed cats are more likely to urinate outside the litter box. Declawed cats ruin floorboards, beds, drywall, etc. and lose security deposits because of urine damage. I’ve also noticed declawed cats see more veterinarians; contract diabetes more often; and require more drugs (anti-depressants, pain killers, tranquilizers and steroids) than clawed cats.

I get 25 times the number of calls about declawed cats peeing on sofas than I get about cats who scratch sofas. People have spent a lot of money on drugs and urine and blood tests trying to fix the pee problems of their declawed cats. Also, declawed cats chew and bite people more often than clawed cats. (My clients of declawed cats have had to visit their own doctors to get antibiotics for horrible cat bites.)

If you were to analyze the claims made for cats, I’m sure you will find that you pay more for declawed cats.

Considering the expenses declawed cats incur, it doesn’t seem reasonable that owners of clawed cats should pay the same premiums as declawed cat owners.

Please call 303.530.9000 or email me at annie@goodcatswearblack.com. I look forward to hearing from you about this serious matter.

Thank you,

Annie Bruce

speaker, publisher, author, cat owner consultant

cc:

Board of Directors, Pet Care Insurance (PetCarePals.com)

Mr. Mark Warren, President and Chief Executive Officer, Pet Care – Pet Insurance Programs

Board of Directors, Pet Insurance (PetInsurance.com)

Veterinary Pet Insurance

Ms. Renee Shively, Washington Mutual Insurance Services

Dr. Joe M. Howell, AVMA President

C. Guy Hancock, President, American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians (AAHABV)

Veterinary Centers of America

__________________________

June 11, 2001

 

Dr. Janis H. Audin, DVM, Editor-in-Chief

JAVMA – AVMA Schaumburg Office

1931 N. Meacham Rd., Suite 100

Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360

Dear Dr. Audin,

In the January 1, 2001 issue JAVMA published, “Attitudes of owners regarding tendonectomy and onychectomy in cats.” The last paragraph of the article states that  “. . . tendonectomy may be a good alternative [to declawing] …”.   I believe this is risky advice. Based on hundreds of phone calls I receive as a cat owner consultant, both declawed and tendonectomized cats are more likely to develop litter box problems.

Contrary to generally held beliefs, declawing does not save owners’ furniture. In six years, I have received phone calls from people who have lost floorboards, drywall, leather sofas and security deposits due only to the urine of declawed cats. Healthy, clawed cats rarely urinate outside the litter box.

Tendonectomies or onychectomies do not save cats’ lives. Veterinary students would do well to learn what people do to cats who bite or urinate outside the box. While a scratched sofa might make disablement seem an appropriate solution, urine-drenched beds or floorboards often result in neglect and abuse, and finally abandonment. Many declawed cats are deserted with the reasoning that the “freed” cat can die a “natural” death. Thousands of stray declawed cats are picked up every year and never reclaimed.  Those who aren’t rescued die horrible deaths, while the family who deserted them is telling others that cats are nasty and time-consuming. American streets don’t need any more homeless cats, and cats don’t deserve this treatment. Cats with claws are fun, easy to own, and quite trainable.

As for tendonectomy being a good alternative to declawing, it is my observation that scratching is the most vital exercise for a cat’s physical and emotional health. Tendonectomy radically affects the way the cat exercises and should be considered as dangerous as declawing the cat. A tendonectomy should not be recommended as an alternative.

I strongly urge the AVMA to change their policy to end declawing and tendonectomies, and be required to give cat owners “Informed Consent” prior to any operation that puts their home or cat at risk.   I have included my suggested changes to the AVMA guidelines in the attached, “Informed Consent needed for cat owners from veterinarians.”

I would appreciate hearing back from you about this serious situation.

Please call anytime at 303.530.9000, or email me at info@goodcatswearblack.com.

Sincerely,

Annie Bruce

cat owner consultant, author

Cc: Dr. James E. Nave, AVMA President

Dr. James H. Brandt, AVMA President-Elect

Editor of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association

Editor of Trends, AAHA magazine

Dr. Gary M. Lansberg, Doncaster Animal Clinic, Ontario

Ms. Harriet Baker

Enclosures: Cat Be Good, Litter Box Problems : Clawed vs. Declawed Cats and How to Have a Good Cat by Annie Bruce; new book information on “The Shocking Truth About Declawing Cats” by Harriet Baker;  Declawing Should Be Outlawed by Rene Knapp.

June 11, 2001

The American Veterinarian Medical Association

1931 N Meacham Rd, Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360

Subject: Informed Consent needed for cat owners from veterinarians

Dear Members of the American Veterinarian Medical Association,

I am a cat owner consultant and author of the award-winning Cat Be Good : A Commonsense Approach to Training Your Cat, now in it’s second printing. I have owned cats for over 40 years and fostered dozens of abused, sick and abandoned cats. Based on the calls I receive about cat behavior problems, I am convinced that declawed/tendonectomized cats ruin more property, waste more time and put the cat’s life more at risk than clawed cats.

I strongly urge the AVMA to immediately adopt a policy requiring its members to provide “Informed Consent” to any client considering an operation that puts their home, cat or time at risk (such as declawing, tendonectomy, shortening the cat’s penis, removing the olfactory bulb, removing teeth, etc.).

Informed Consent should include a layman’s detailed description of the operations, listing specific post-operative possibilities, including: litter-box problems and the resulting damage to furniture, carpeting and floors; biting; chewing on wood or electrical cords; and other behavioral problems that may require drugs and/or further trips to the veterinarian.

Informed Consent should be both oral and written communication signed by the cat owner. Cat owners are not being informed of the serious consequences of these operations. Public education needs to include these important facts about owning declawed/tendonectomied cats:

1.      Declawed cats are more likely to begin urinating outside their litter boxes. Healthy cats with claws seldom urinate outside the litter box. Peeing outside the litter box in clawed cats usually indicates a medical problem.

2.      Declawing saves neither furniture nor the life of the pet. Declawing leads many cats to litter box problems. Litter box problems in turn often lead to abuse, abandonment and death. A national survey revealed that 70% of cats turned into shelters for behavior problems are declawed. One shelter reported that 90% of their calls are people wanting to “get rid” of their declawed cat.

3.      Scratching is an important exercise to the physical and emotional health of each cat. Cats use the scratching post to build muscles, which helps health, confidence and behavior. It’s easier and less expensive to manage a cat that is strong and able, not permanently disabled by declawing or tendonectomy. Tendonectomy radically affects the way cats exercise and should be considered as debilitating as declawing. (Note: A tendonectomy should not be recommended as an alternative to declawing or scratching post training.)

4.      A failed declawing operation can cripple a cat to the point of requiring euthanasia. If the de-clawed toe becomes infected, the cat will require subsequent operations.

5.      Declawed cats frequently fall, have more potential for injury, and are not as able to escape flood, fire or dogs as readily as cats with claws.

6.      If scratching is perceived as a “serious” problem, how will owning urine soaked sofas, beds and floorboards feel? Urine runs deeper than claws.

7.      Cats are smart and can be trained to use litter boxes if not hampered by crippling operations.

8.      Declawing is illegal in many countries including Germany, Switzerland, Austrialia, Belgium, Spain and Portugal. (My website maintains a current list.) The Royal College of Veterinarian  Surgeons and the British Veterinarian Association refuse to declaw.

It is very risky to bring home a cat who is declawed or tendonectomized. Cat owners have a right to this information. Without proper education to change outmoded beliefs, they will continue to mistreat their cat when he goes outside the litter box (spanking, squirting, hitting, and kicking them, locking them in the basement, putting them outside, abandoning them, surrendering them to a shelter, or the true “last” resort, having the cat put down—all of which I have personally witnessed.)

Ultimately, I believe American veterinarians should discontinue the practices of declawing and tendonectomy. Until then, by providing Informed Consent containing the above information, you will be doing a great service to cat owners, as well as the millions of cats who end up suffering because they were declawed.

I urge you to adopt these reasonable measures as policy. I would appreciate hearing back from you about this serious situation that could affect over 35 million homes in the United States.

You can make a difference to millions of cats and the valuable property and time of cat owners.

Sincerely,

Annie Bruce

Author of Cat Be Good, ISBN 0-9674062-0-X

Published by Good Cats Wear Black

PO Box 11265, Boulder, CO 80301

Phone 303.530.9000

___________________

October 7, 2003

Dr. Paige B. Garnett, DVM
Care Animal Hospital
8044 Kipling St.
Arvada, CO 80005

Subject: Harboring a declawed cat puts children, sofas, security deposits at risk

Dear Dr. Garnett,

I heard you will be speaking at the Cat Care Society, “Cats in Paradise” event on October 11.

I am asking prominent, influential veterinarians to help end the plight of declawed cat owners. (Declawed cats often bite children and cause property loss by urinating on sofas, carpets and beds.)

Please see the attachments.

Thank you,
Annie Bruce
author, speaker, cat owner consultant

cc:
Glenn Hagen, Esq, Legal Council, Cat Care Society,

Attachments:

·        Facts About Declawed Cats 6/03, by Annie Bruce

·        How to Have a Good Cat, by Annie Bruce

_____________________________________________________

October 27, 2003

American Humane Association

63 Inverness Drive East
Englewood, CO 80112

Faxed to: (303) 792-5333

Subject: Seigfried & Roy tiger in pain?

Dear American Humane Association,

Did the AHA check to see if the tiger who attacked Roy, was declawed? And if so, what was the weather that day?

Like people, each cat will react differently to amputation. Severed toes may have flared up phantom limb pain on that day. So even though the trainers may have performed thousands of shows without problems, pain still could have been this tiger’s problem.

Cats are very sensitive to weather. (Cats can sense oncoming earthquakes sooner than scientific equipment). And declawed housecats are often known to bite people and urinate outside the litter box.

I believe declawed cats suffer pain and/or depression their entire lives. Please check that tiger and see if his feet were compromised. If so, I believe his health and behavior are also compromised. Pain and disablement often leads to poor behavior in both cats and people.

Thank you,

Annie Bruce

author

cc: Animal Legal Defense Fund, action@aldf.org

_______________________________

March 17, 2004

Subject: Cat Owner Consultant Annie Bruce has retired; Jackson Galaxy, Feline Behavior Consultant; declawing info

Dear valued pet business,

In the past you may have referred cat owners to me regarding cat behavior problems. Thank you for your support and for caring about cats.

I have retired. Although I still write about the harm declawing causes to both cats and people, I no longer confer with cat owners. I am a dancer now.

Please refer people who need cat behavior help to Mr. Jackson Galaxy of Little Big Cat, Inc. I highly recommend and respect Mr. Galaxy’s knowledge of cats.

Jackson Galaxy, Feline Behavior Consultant (720) 938-6794
www.littlebigcat.com, e-mail: jackson@littlebigcat.com

I will continue to provide free information regarding cat behavior and declawing on www.goodcatswearblack.com. Your telling others about the risks of declawing will save cats’ lives, sofas and children getting bit! Declawed cats often urinate outside the litter box, bite people, and are given away or abandoned.

My dear friend, Harriet Baker wrote, “The Shocking Truth About Declawing Cats.” Your shelter will appreciate this 340 page book of important info, facts and figures about declawed cats. To order send a $23.00 check to:
The Cat Catalyst, 613 Sea Street, Quincy, MA 02169.

Thank you again for your past support and for helping cats.

Sincerely,

Annie Bruce
author of “Cat Be Good”

p.s. The Paw Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending declawing of all cats, large & small. Please visit www.pawproject.com or call 1-877-PAWPROJECT.

p.p.s. It’s very easy to get cats to listen without declawing, squirt bottles or clickers. Just talk to them! Cats are smart and easy to train.

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