Scratch happy: Alternatives to declawing

November 3, 2009 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

Cats enjoy a good scratch, so help them get one. That’s the message from Dr. Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori
in this week’s Pet Connection feature:

We don’t like declawing, and we don’t recommend it as a first reaction to any behavior problems in cats.

That said, we understand how in some cases it’s a cat’s last chance to stay in a good home rather than face uncertain prospects at a shelter. And we know, too, that a well-done veterinary declawing with full pain control is no worse in the short-term than many other surgeries. But we still don’t recommend it as anything except a last-chance alternative to losing a good home. In other words: It shouldn’t be a preventive or immediately reactive approach to a behavior problem that can be dealt with in other ways.

That’s because scratching is a natural and satisfying behavior for cats. It provides a good stretch, marks territory and keeps the claws in good shape. If at all possible, we’d rather a cat be allowed to be a cat in all ways, and that includes enjoying the pleasures of scratching.

More on cat scratching and declawing here.

Dr. Becker and Mikkel Becker Shannon report on the high cost of service dogs:

Care for therapy and service dogs can be pricey. Trained service costs range from $5,000 to $50,000, with some organizations donating dogs free of charge to those who need them, although the waiting list is usually long. Regardless of how the dog is acquired, the patient has the responsibility of keeping the dog fed, groomed and healthy. An average yearly food and routine veterinary bill is $1,500, according to Canine Companions for Independence — and of course any health problems beyond routine care can increase the veterinary bills considerably. The high costs associated with service animals present a real challenge to many of those who rely on them, since 70 percent of disabled people are unemployed.

Want more? Read the entire Pet Connection for this week, or download the PDF file exactly the way we send it to our client newspapers!…

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