This is a welcome development. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but many years ago I recommended that veterinarians step up to the plate and rather than declawing cats they introduced seminars and classes (call them what you like) in which they passed on their valuable expertise in how to improve cat welfare and their cat’s psychological well-being. Part of this process would be to change attitudes about declawing.
However, this article is not about declawing but about veterinarians pushing the envelope and looking at cat welfare holistically, in the round, by not simply treating health issues but by also looking at ways to prevent health issues arising. This means targeting the human to cat relationship with the intention of ensuring that the environment in which the cat lives is as good as possible. This means understanding cat behaviour.
As far as I’m aware this Bromsgrove, UK, veterinary practice is the first to invite pet owners to spend an evening with them to discuss behavioural issues and seek advice. At the same time the clinic’s behaviour veterinarian will also assess health issues in case they are linked to behavior.
A variety of typical cat behavioural issues will be looked at, of which one of the most common as we know is “inappropriate elimination”. This can take several forms and may be due to stress which in turn may be due to environmental issues and/or inter-cat aggression and bullying.
The Bromsgrove veterinary surgeon taking the meeting will be Joao Teotonia who said that ‘the importance of animal behaviour and psychological well-being is increasingly recognised in the veterinary profession’.
This particular session is free. I would suggest however that in the long term veterinarians charge a modest sum for these classes. After all, if these animal behaviour sessions are shown to be successful in improving cat and dog health the veterinary clinic will lose revenue. You can’t expect them to tolerate that. Therefore they have a right I think to make a modest charge and I would hope that cat and dog owners accept it. Of course veterinarians taking these classes must demonstrate that they are highly skilled in cat and dog behaviour. This will go back to their training and experiences as pet owners themselves.
To return briefly to declawing. This makes a lot of money for veterinarians in America. They will need some substitute revenue if they stop declawing. Providing animal behaviour instructional classes and seminars would help to offset this loss of revenue and more importantly it would improve the lives and welfare of so many millions of domestic cats in the country. If a veterinarian did this he or she should also feel very proud of themselves in doing something out of the box, progressive, enlightened and highly useful in the interests of cat welfare.