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ABOUT

Welcome to the Proclaw veterinarians of Canada website! You have probably found us by searching for information about declawing or onychectomy in Canada. You might be a veterinarian looking for more information, you might work in a career with cats, or you might just be one of many lucky ‘someones’ who live with cats. No matter your relationship with cats, we welcome you!

The Proclaw Veterinarians of Canada is an organization started by Dr. Kelly St. Denis in Ontario Canada. Dr. St. Denis’ experiences as a veterinarian and feline specialist opened up concerns to her about the feline surgical procedure known as declawing. Declawing leads to many short-term and long-term medical consequences. As cat lovers, we all need to be aware of these changes that occur.

Cats have normal scratching behaviours that are necessary both to maintain healthy nail structures as well as to mark their territory. When we understand these behaviours, we are better able to direct our cats’ scratching targets.

 

Alternatives to Declawing

Scratching is a natural behaviour in cats that can be directed to appropriate substrates in the home, in lieu of valued furniture.   During the training process, keeping the nails trimmed regularly and/or applying soft paws to reduce or eliminate potential damage may be beneficial in reducing client stress.  The training process will go much more smoothly if tension and anxiety related to potential property damage are reduced as much as possible.

Scratching resources for your cat

A variety of resources should be made available to your cat for scratching purposes.  Consider the location when distributing these resources in the household.  Your cat will wish to be in an area where the family often spends time, so having scratching options in these areas is important.  Considering that this location may be where a large portion of the family upholstered furniture is as well, means that having lots of acceptable scratching surfaces for your cat here becomes critical.

Also consider that your cat will want a place to scratch where it can see the outdoors.  A scratch-able perch with a view of the birds in the yard will quickly become a favourite place.

Consider the types of surfaces and experiment with these with your cat.   Most cats prefer an upright, STURDY scratch post, but available alternatives can be beneficial.  Some cats will prefer horizontal surfaces.  The actual surface type preference will vary from cat to cat.  Surfaces such as carpet, sisal carpet, rope, cardboard, and tree or tree bark are all options your cat may wish to try out.

Experiment and learn what your cat prefers, but don’t forget that as they age, their preferences may change.  Always keep a variety of scratching resources, and offer new options as your cat grows and ages.

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Why do cats scratch?

The cat claw is unique anatomically, serving several functions for the cat.  The claws of the forelimb are uniquely retractable in cats, allowing them to sheath their claws when not in use.   The cat can actively unsheath their claws by contracting forelimb muscles which pulls on the tendons attached to the ends of the forelimb digits.  This exposes the claws.

The cat may wish to expose the claws for several reasons.   When hunting, the cat will use the claws to grasp prey.  During times of conflict with other cats or other animals, the cat may wish to use it’s claws to defend itself.  Lastly, the claws will need to be exposed for the purpose of scratching inanimate objects.  Outdoors this may include trees, fences and other solid surfaces. Indoors, cats may scratch furniture, door frames and carpet.

Scratching inanimate objects serves two purposes.  The first is to renew the claw by dislodging the old nail growth and exposing a new, sharper claw underneath.  The second purpose is for marking.  In this latter case, the claws do not need to be exposed.  The cat is using the paw pads to mark surfaces with pheromones, in order to communicate it’s presence and ownership of territory to other cats and animals.  Take note when your cat is going through the motions of ‘scratching’ at home.  Sometimes the cat is actually renewing the claw surfaces, in which case you may heard the points of the nails catching on the scratched surface.  In the second case, the marking may not include the nails, and therefore the rubbing may be silent.  Sometimes both will occur.  In these cases, the cat is sometimes trying to chemically AND visually mark the surfaces in order to indicate territory presence and ownership.  It is important to understand these behaviours, as they are natural to your cat and both are very necessary.  In addition, increased scratching and marking may occur in times of anxiety and stress, when environmental resources are threatened or restricted.   Simply readdressing the situation may reduce the anxiety and subsequent increased marking.

The war between the veterinary profession and the passionate welfare advocates. The declaw debate.

My very good friend Karen called me yesterday to borrow some battery juice. She has found her second calling in life as a feral cat rescue lobbyist and welfare reform advocate and wanted my thoughts on declawing and why it is so impossible to find affordable help from the veterinary community for the multitude of rescue organizations she is trying to assist? She had spent enough time entrenched in the horror reality of cat rescue to become bitter about how my side was crippling the efforts to get where she wanted cat welfare and critical medical needs to be.

The conversation started as they always do… we reminded each other how much we needed each other, how hard we were working and how the road blocks never seem to lessen, soften, widen, or cease.

Karen has made numerous trips around the country visiting rescues, organizations and other role models for feral cats in the hopes she can pick up some of the tips and tools of their successes to carry back home to her own backyard  for the benefit of New Jerseys over whelming under served misplaced community cats. She is a woman on a mission and she has gumption, intelligence, and resources. I admire and adore her.

Her dilemma du jour was causing her ulcers to erupt. She was curious and reluctantly pessimistic to see what my opinion and stance on declawing was? I could hear the trepidation and despair in her voice as she muttered, “I cannot believe this ban might actually stall in NJ? The veterinary association and even my own vet, who I have known and trusted for years, is opposed to the ban. How could anyone be opposed to this ban?” (see more on NJ’s proposed ban here)

To read more.. click here

http://kmdvm.blogspot.ca/2017/01/the-war-between-veterinary-profession.html?m=1

 

WHY DO CATS SCRATCH???

The cat claw is unique anatomically, serving several functions for the cat.  The claws of the forelimb are uniquely retractable in cats, allowing them to sheath their claws when not in use.   The cat can actively unsheath their claws by contracting forelimb muscles which pulls on the tendons attached to the ends of the forelimb digits.  This exposes the claws.

The cat may wish to expose the claws for several reasons.   When hunting, the cat will use the claws to grasp prey.  During times of conflict with other cats or other animals, the cat may wish to use it’s claws to defend itself.  Lastly, the claws will need to be exposed for the purpose of scratching inanimate objects.  Outdoors this may include trees, fences and other solid surfaces. Indoors, cats may scratch furniture, door frames and carpet.

Scratching inanimate objects serves two purposes.  The first is to renew the claw by dislodging the old nail growth and exposing a new, sharper claw underneath.  The second purpose is for marking.  In this latter case, the claws do not need to be exposed.  The cat is using the paw pads to mark surfaces with pheromones, in order to communicate it’s presence and ownership of territory to other cats and animals.  Take note when your cat is going through the motions of ‘scratching’ at home.  Sometimes the cat is actually renewing the claw surfaces, in which case you may heard the points of the nails catching on the scratched surface.  In the second case, the marking may not include the nails, and therefore the rubbing may be silent.  Sometimes both will occur.  In these cases, the cat is sometimes trying to chemically AND visually mark the surfaces in order to indicate territory presence and ownership.  It is important to understand these behaviours, as they are natural to your cat and both are very necessary.  In addition, increased scratching and marking may occur in times of anxiety and stress, when environmental resources are threatened or restricted.   Simply readdressing the situation may reduce the anxiety and subsequent increased marking.

Under construction

Welcome to our site!

As you can see, we are currently under construction.  We appreciate your patience as we finish up the site content.  The site will always be changing, so watch for weekly updates on our blogs.

If you are a veterinarian, check out our veterinary content.  Not a member?  Contact Dr. Kelly St. Denis for more information about  becoming a member of Proclaw Veterinarians of Canada.

Are you currently owned by a cat?  Follow our blogs and training pages for lots of information and the natural, clawed cat.  We are here to help,  so you are also welcome to send us a question via ‘contact us’.

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