Just Answer Gives Unjust Answer on Declawing

Just Answer Gives Unjust Answer on Declawing

by Michael

Declawed Serval. The photographer (by neutralSurface - Flickr) described the cat as

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Declawed Serval. The photographer (by neutralSurface - Flickr) described the cat as "mean". Are we surprised?

Further to Babara's post on the pay-for-an-answer website, Just Answer, in which she described a shoddy answer on declawing cats (Money Grubbing Online Vets), I thought I would ask a question or two myself on this subject to see what came back.

After all, Just Answer claim to have hundreds of experts just waiting to answer our questions.

I paid $18 and chose high priority so I got an answer while I waited.

This is how it unfolded:

The Question:

Could you please explain why the vast majority of veterinarians in the United States do not consider it unethical and immoral to declaw cats for non-theraputic reasons (and as a first choice rather than a last resort), and further would you agree that the veterinarians of the United States are giving a mixed and misleading message to the public when on the one hand their role is to promote animal welfare and on the other they are mutilating cats for the convenience of the cats' owners?

{Note: there were a thousand questions I could have asked and it is difficult to know which is the best under these circumstances so I asked two fundamental questions.}

I waited for the answer. The first person to come forward was a nurse (
for people) and she declined to answer it (I was pleased!).

Then a veterinarian named Drew came online (you can see the people coming up in small pictures and the website says that Mr X or Ms Y is reading the question).

Dr. Drew declined to answer the question (surprised?). Then another veterinarian came online, "Critical Care Veterinarian". She rejected the question.

Then Doctor W a "Cat Veterinarian" came online and he or she also rejected it. Would someone answer this question, I thought? I waited with anxiously.

And up turned another veterinarian, Dr. Mary P (they don't give the full names on the page I saw). This is her answer (produced about 30 mins after asking the question):

The Answer:

Hi. I would like to try to help you with this question. I don't doubt that there may be some veterinarians that see this surgery as a part of their "business." But I also believe that there are many veterinarians that see a significant number of clients (with cats) that have complaints about their cats destroying property, such as furniture. When a client has spent several hundred or thousand dollars on furniture, it is understandable that they may get very upset with the situation. And I understand the argument that people should not have cats if they can't handle a little (or a lot of) property damage. But when we, as veterinarians, see that perhaps thousands of cats are relinquished from their homes or euthanized each year for this reason, we see a need for a surgery such as declawing.

I do not believe these veterinarians see it as an immoral or unethical decision to declaw when they believe these cats will live a better and happier life.

I also believe that many of these veterinarians counsel their clients on alternatives before using this as a "first choice" answer. But I also know that if given time to see whether a cat will become destructive in the home or not, a year or two may pass before that decision is made and declawing an older cat can be more painful and make for a more difficult recovery afterward. I believe that is an important consideration to make as well.

In an ideal world, onchyectomy, or declawing, would not be performed and cats would not destroy people's property.

I see this question as a complicated one to answer but I hope that this has given you a some insight that can help you understand the situation a little better.

Dr. Mary

Dr Mary added a post script:

I would also like to add that I have had requests from people who are on medications, blood thinners for medical reasons, that have a cat and have requested declawing to reduce the risk of bleeding when being scratched.

My Reply:

The website allows a reply or it says it does:

Thank you for your reply. I won't keep you. Many vets package delawing with neutering and give out coupons to encourage it. This flies in the face of what you say. By implication you agree that many vets don't counsel on alternatives. Why isn't the AVMA stopping them? And research indicates that declawed cats are more likely to be relinquished than clawed cats. This also contradicts you. What would you say to these comments?

This reply was not answered. I am not sure why. A message came up:

Somebody has posted ahead of you. You can edit your post in the message box or continue to post it.

My Thoughts:

It is the same old denial. A denial of the research that says that declawed cats are relinquished more than clawed cats (Cat Declawing Myths and Truths)

They justify declawing ethically and morally on their version of the "facts" (actually misrepresentations) that declawing saves lives so it is the lesser of two evils.

They also quote human health issues repeatedly. This is also a distortion of the facts (All Creatures Animal Hospital Mislead Us is one example).

Important: We need, I think, to tackle the vets more on their misuse and distortion of the facts. If we can prove that their arguments are false it should undermine their position substantially.

One good thing. By implication, Dr Mary admits that many veterinarians do not counsel the client on alternatives because she says that "many..counsel their clients.." (i.e. many others don't therefore).

Michael Avatar

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Just Answer Gives Unjust Answer on Declawing

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Feb 11, 2012 Immoral NEW
by: Keri

I have had cats almost half my life, and all except one have never needed their claws cutting. As they naturally worn down on their own. However, I have had a ragdoll for the past year and a half, and he has a scratching post ect. Loves it and gets his claws really sharp. Absolutely fine, however he manages to make his claws so sharp they catch the floor as he walks, though its only his front paws XD Anyway I cut them myself, don't have to put a cloth ect, just get him while he is on the sofa. I have done this quite regularly, and he gets used to it....not! He does get fed up, but I manage.

As for declawing for purposes of furniture......pathetic (how can an object be more valuable than as something living)!! what about puppies (i have one) they bite everything, but do they say we have to take out their teeth for it? No, because that's stupid, so why is declawing not considered on the same topic. Cats claws are an essential tool for themselves, and also help with stress relief. So they complain about behavioural issues, when its obvious you will cause more damage removing them, than not. Any behavioural issues with cats? Seriously? I can't imagine a naughty cat, they hardly need training like dogs (though i have managed to teach two cats to do tricks). Also are very independent animals. Though they can be mischievous as kittens, when they grow older they are perfect, easily manageable and loving creatures.

These people who declaw for the sake of furniture are pathetic, others who get them done for behaviour are impatient, and about the thin blood. How dare they use an illness as a cover story to destroy an animals welfare for profit. This whole thing is ridiculous, and I am glad it is not in the UK!!

Feb 27, 2010 Just answer (or maybe not)
by: Tracey

Hi Michael

No surprise there eh? I did the same the other night but I played the clueless card hoping to get more information. I was only prepared to pay £7 for the load of old tosh I knew I was going receive by way of a response.

I was dissapointed, I got an online vet straight away & as I expected same old rubbish; I was told 'we don't routinely de-claw cats, only if all other options have been exhausted' my these 'vets' love to sing from the same hymn sheet don't they?! Talk about safety in numbers! bet its 'hey if we stick to the same story they just gotta believe us!' Do they teach them this at vet school along with how to de-claw cats!?

Well story it is and no we don't. We know exactly what you are, a bunch of inhumane cat torturers happy to commit pain and suffering for money.

Micheal I would gladly support you in America but it just finances that stop me at the moment. If my position changes count me in! In the meantime I'll do all I can here. These poor cats must have a voice.

One last point I'm just sick to death of hearing the same old excuses! People with thin skin, babies and small children, people with other conditions, expensive furnishings! Oh please! change the record and just admit why you really do it! For the money!!! Don't you think we have babies and people with thin skin in the UK?

We have sofa's too! How about that!

Jan 10, 2010 Bert
by: Ruth

What a lovely man lol and he echoes a few of my sentiments alhough I wouldn't have put it so bluntly lol

Bert I hope you come back on ! Are you from 'oop North?'

Claw clipping does seem to be a culture thing as we've never clipped our cats claws apart from Ebonys when she was very old and they started growing curved.We have always had lots of scratching posts and pads, I'll send a piccy of a really good one called a 'fat boy' Our boyz love it. Update: Here is a pic:

scratching post called a fat boy

We were rarely if ever asked to clip cats claws at the vets I worked for either and as far as I know, Rescue Centres don't do it.
I don't like to think of cats in muzzles either,in all my work with cats we never even considered that.In fact I'd rather be bitten than degrade a cat by muzzling it !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Jan 09, 2010 Poor cats
by: Bert T

Tosh to cat shows, thats summat else what cats has to suffer now and no soul can say that a cat enjoys being gawped at.
Strikes me cats are treated more like objects to mess about with and to gain praise for folk when really they only want to be looked after proper and have the life mapped out for cats.
I'll have to leave now for my grandson to take me home.I've enjoyed having a turn on his computer and getting my own email doings, there never was such things when I was a lad.
Toodle pip

Jan 09, 2010 Trimming
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Kathy. Cats don't like having their face covered, so using a dog muzzle while trimming seems pretty drastic to me. Instead place the cat in a natural sitting position on the table. Have somebody else holding her body fairly restricted from behind, while from ahead you search for the claws with one hand and do the clipping with the other.
A skilled "clipper" can actually do it all by herself, holding the cat between the left arm and the body. My vet taught me that - she is so fast the cat never notices a thing. 😉
This is not the place for a long discussion about claw trimming, but I'll just mention that at the cat shows all cats must have their claws trimmed before entering.

Finn Frode avatar

Jan 09, 2010 And My Thoughts
by: Bert T

Well correct me if I'm wrong as I'm an old chap now and mayhap the world has moved on.But the last paragraph stuck me somewhat
...15 mins once a month doesnt seem like a very high price to pay for letting them keep their claws...
It makes it sound to me like cats should be grateful to be allowed to keep their claws. Do people not know any more that its their right to have the claws the Good Lord gave them ?
Towels over heads and muzzles for cats, I must say I am shocked to the core.
I had cats all my life until I was afright they'd outlive me and I never clipped any claws. The sharp points are there for a purpose and get worn down natural like with scratching materials.Cats love doing their claws. Now my grandson tells me there be even emery board scratchers for cats to keep claws healthy.I never did know any person who trimmed claws even the ones whose cats didn't go out much.The Good Lord would have sent a pair of clippers with each cat if they was meant to have their claws cut.
I knows its in America and Canada that a lot of cats get declawed, it sickens me it does that folk are so cruel.What beats me is why get cats and try to make them be what they are not ?
I never had any problems with cats claws in all my years and my cats had long happy lives without being messed with ever.

Jan 08, 2010 my thoughts
by: kathy

Well we spent a whole probaly 15 minutes trimming all three of our cats claws this morning. The first was our unrully new Savannah Kitten, Kachina. Last time we had to put a towel over her head and hold her quite ( as I felt Unhumanly) She was very intent on biting the both of us. I tried scruffing her but shes quite strong for a then about 8 week old kitty. Now shes 13 weeks. This time I found an old small dog muzzle in my old dog grooming supplies. It didnt snap shut but it was sufficient enough for me to hold it over her face and it didnt obstruct her eyes or nose like the towel did. She scratched me once with the hind foot. Well very small price to pay for her keeping her claws. They do make cat muzzles and I used to have one. We will be getting a new one. Lia and Middie dont like it but they tolerate it. WE gave them plenty of treats after ward and they were happy to have those sharp points removed. When they start going around scratching on things we know its getting time and the kitten can play pretty rough and I dont want Lia or Middie getting hurt. It seems like Li always gets his eye scratched. So 15 mins once a month doesnt seem like a very high price to pay for letting them keep their claws.

Jan 06, 2010 Declawing dogs
by: Barbara

Dogs have been declawed, they must have been because just recently I read somewhere that when dogs are declawed they scream and howl continuously with the pain so they leave one in no doubt that they are in total agony. This is why declawing dogs isn't popular. Now, it will not be any less agonising for a cat to be declawed but as we all know cats would rather die than admit to pain or illness. Anyone who thinks a declawed cat is not in pain is one of two things, ignorant about cats in general and their high tolerance of pain and desperation not to show weakness, or downright uncaring as long as the end result is that the sofa gets to stay perfect. In both cases they should be prosecuted!
I can't believe that all the discussion on declawing is even necessary, I can't take it into my head that someone would actually want to do this to a cat(or dog) and would fight unashamably for the right to do so. It's unbelievable that so many people accept it as normal or desirable. Thankfully there are many US citizens who are good people and fight against declawing every day of their lives, but I feel so sorry for them, it must feel like hitting their heads against the proverbial brick wall.

Barbara avatar

Jan 06, 2010 Online vet answers
by: Jan Plant

It's all the same double talk we get from every where.They won't come right out an say it,but sure as hell imply it.I spoke with my vet yesterday(took Sadie to have eye looked at),sadly, his replies to my questions were quite muddled.But he does do declawing.So when we left I told them Sadie would not be returning.He's been our Emergency vet for quite sometime,yet when I assked him to explain the procedure and why he did it,his answer was"It's hard to explain if we're not discussing an indivdual cat".Huh?You are definately much more learned on this as I am.Could one of you please explain to me,(in human talk), what the hell that means?
As far as doing something that will aid the cause,please tell me how to go about it,what to do,how to do it.The few I have here ,although older,I'm sure would help,we just know absolutely nothing,on how or where to start.I wish I had the intelligence ya'll do to write on this,but not having been a part of this until recently,I am, ashamedly,quite uninformed.
It sad that you had to spend the money, only to be given an answer by someone talking out of both sides of their mouth.

Jan 06, 2010 Protests
by: Michael

Is there anyway we can galvanise one or two prominent anti-declawers in the USA to organise something, even a smallish protest?

We could protest outside the AVMA offices for example and tell the local TV stations about it.

As far as I know no one has protested against declawing. And we could introduce the European angle.

"European(s) come over to America to protest!"

Maybe it won't work or achieve anything but we won't know until we try.

Jan 06, 2010 I agree Michael
by: Ruth

Yes Michael, you are right,that is what is needed, on the ground protest, and I've tried for over a year to motivate the people in the USA to do that !
If I was younger,financially able and had no commitments here I'd have gone over there by now.
But I accept my limitations,frustrating as it is !
It needs able bodied, committed to the cause people. There surely must be plenty of them over there ! We'd have been gathering our 'troops' here and planning our strategy, long before now wouldn't we !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Jan 06, 2010 Same old claptrap
by: Everycat

I think it's time we accepted that the AVMA is nothing but a trade body and has absolutely no interest (or power) to control vets. Maybe we should be targetting the state boards. The AVMA rewrites statistical theory, lies about the behavioural damage that declawing causes and is generally there to be a hypocritical public mouthpiece for the vets who pay their subscriptions to it.

I think Dr Mary's answer is pitiful. A vet putting the value of furniture above the value of a living, sentient being? Strike the mutilator off the register now!. She's unethical. Also, she and so many other pro-declaw vets are woefully ignorant of the reality of living on blood thinning drugs and with conditions that compromise the immune system.

I have 2 friends who share their lives together. Both have HIV, they share their lives with six cats, 2 of which are ex true ferals (yes, real ferals) and neither of them lives in fear of claws. Why? because if you treat your cats politely, kindly, make an effort to educate yourself as to their needs and behaviour, there is little or no risk you will be injured by a claw. Both of my friends are active in TNR too. So their contact with supposedly "dangerous" claws are daily. They remain a couple of the healthiest, happiest people I know. Their cats are happy too.

I am utterly sick of this rubbish spouted by arrogant, ignorant american vets who would sell their own granny to Fred West as a party entertainment rather than own up to their greed, lust for crippling cats and their shameful guilt.

Strike every one of them off NOW!

Jan 06, 2010 Good response
by: Michael

Hi Ruth, I like your response. Although it is depressing, isn't it? They always wheel out the same old tired and misleading statements.

I really think that to make progress in 2010 we are going to have to push some more if we are to build on the gains made in the last months of 2009.

Personally, I would like to see some on the ground protesting in the USA and I for one would be willing to go over and do it.

Jan 06, 2010 The same old story
by: Ruth

When pressed for answers,they always back out, because they know there is no answer to why the AVMA allows declawing to happen.Dr Mary's own words 'declawing an older cat can be more painful and make for a more difficult recovery afterward. I believe that is an important consideration to make as well' 'MORE painful' ah so it IS a painful operation then ! 'MORE difficult recovery' ah so recovery IS difficult too !
So, little kittens which might never even scratch the oh so precious furniture, especially if taught to use a scratching post, have to have their toe ends amputated just incase they do and this stops them suffering even more when they are older ? I thought declawing was supposed to be a last resort ???
Dr Mary ...'I would also like to add that I have had requests from people who are on medications, blood thinners for medical reasons, that have a cat and have requested declawing to reduce the risk of bleeding when being scratched'
We do have people like this in our country too and the other countries where declawing is illegal,yet we manage without mutilating our cats for them ! My own late mother had very thin skin due to steroid treatment,her 4 cats never harmed her once, but a neighbour's dog tore the skin off her arm ....why aren't the dogs of these people in your country declawed ??? Ah of course, too many people would see their disablement,they couldn't be kept prisoners like declawed cats are !The shock and horror of these vets and pro declaw cat people if someone wanted to declaw a dog would be tremendous and rightly so,so why not the same reaction for cats ????
Michael says 'One good thing. By implication, Dr Mary admits that many veterinarians do not counsel the client on alternatives because she says that "many..counsel their clients.." (i.e. many others don't therefore)'
How true !!!!!!!

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Jan 06, 2010 Update
by: Michael

I have just noticed that there is a little message at the base of the Just Answer page where Dr. Mary's response is, that says:

Drew agrees with this Expert (1/5/2010 at 6:01 PM)

Drew is the vet who I allege didn't have the courage to answer the question and passed on it.

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