We as human beings have a tendency to modify and change things that don’t necessarily suit our lives, and that has extended to modifying our animals as well. In this case, I’m talking about ear cropping and declawing — two controversial practices that were once commonplace.
Declawing your cat is something that was, and still can be, controversial in some circles. However as more and more veterinarians stepped forward and refused to perform the service the public and regulatory bodies started listening. Many countries around the world have banned the practice and in 2019, Alberta Board of Veterinary Medicine Association imposed a ban on declawing in Alberta. Declawing was done to prevent cats from scratching furniture or people. Many people assumed it was equivalent to cutting your fingernails, but that is far from the truth. Declawing is the complete removal of the first knuckle, which includes the attached claw. In effect, it is a finger amputation. It is done by slicing a line through the joint itself between the first knuckle and the rest of the paw, and is an extremely invasive and painful procedure.
Sadly, declawing can lead to chronic pain, infection, overall weakness, and can cause arthritis. This can lead to aggression and issues urinating or defecating outside the litter box. Moreover, if a cat spends any time outside, especially unsupervised, this means they will no longer have the ability to defend themselves.
Claws and scratching are innate parts of being a cat. They need their claws for balance, protection, mobility, and play. If you are concerned about your cat scratching here are some ways to help:
- Nail caps: vinyl caps for cat claws applied with harmless adhesive,
- Nail trimming: cats will still scratch, but they won’t do as much damage if their nails are trimmed,
- More toys and scratching posts: this personally works very well for me, but I make sure to have a scratching post close to the couch
- Synthetic sprays: there are a number of anti-scratch sprays on the market, or you could try to make your own with some vinegar and citrus.
Ear Cropping and Tail Docking
Ear cropping and tail docking are equally as controversial, but even more so because for the most part, it is done to dogs for cosmetic reasons. Generally, some people prefer the look of sharp, upright ears, as opposed to floppy ones. This is done by removing part of a dog’s ears, followed by the taping of the remaining ears upright so that they heals that way, rather than flopping down as they would naturally. Tail docking is most often done to adhere to a ‘breed appearance.” It is most often done on day old puppies, often without anesthetic, using scissors or a rubber band. The healing process is uncomfortable and painful, and this tends to be a traumatic process for puppies, in addition to risking anesthesia complications, blood loss, and infections. Thankfully, ear cropping and tail docking were also banned in Alberta in 2019 branding inhumane and medically unnecessary.
In the end, altering our pets through complicated and painful surgeries for cosmetic reasons is not humane and we hope to see the rest of Canada adopt the ban on these and other cosmetic procedures.
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