Today, the Cat Connection wraps up our month long “Love the Cat, Love the Claws” campaign. Overall, we’ve been thrilled and invigorated by the positive response, and we feel in our hearts that declawing will one day (hopefully soon) be viewed as an unfortunate chapter in veterinary medicine. Which brings us to our final piece of the month: A Message to our Veterinarians, with Love.
Veterinarians and their professional organizations exist at the center of the declaw debate. From all sides, a tremendous amount of time and energy has been dedicated to parsing the veterinarian’s culpability for and relationship to the procedure, its economics and the complicated (or incredibly simple, depending on who you ask) moral and ethical questions raised as a result. We’re not going to rehash this here. If you’re so inclined, there are plenty of other resources available to explore the debate further.
As in any profession, veterinary medicine has its good vets and its bad. We are not speaking to the bad ones here. These vets are going to encourage declawing, run specials for it, hide the harsh realities of the procedure, offer it as a part of kitten wellness packages, etc. They are going to do this until it is illegal to do so, and we don’t expect to change their minds. That’s between them and their God… or therapist. Either way, there’s nothing we can do.
And then there are there are the good ones.
It is to these vets we are speaking. And this is what we want them to know.
If a client comes into your office requesting that you declaw their cat, know that you are that cat’s last hope to keep its claws. If that person gets as far as your office, it means that the rest of us have failed. The Cat Connection has failed to convince them. City the Kitty has failed. The Paw Project has failed. The cat behaviorists – those on and off TV – have failed. Likely, another vet has failed as well. You are the very last hope that this cat has to remain whole.
If you have passionately and definitively explained to your client the realities of a declaw surgery (the guaranteed pain, the significant possibility of behavioral changes and medical complications, the decreased quality of life, etc.) and that client still insists you declaw their cat, that person is crazy. We can’t appreciate what it’s like to know that if you don’t perform this surgery, the person is just going to go down the hall or across the street and get it done elsewhere. We don’t know what it’s like to believe that a cat will be relinquished to a shelter if you do not amputate its claws. But we do know that for a person to ignore the dire warnings associated with declawing, especially when delivered by a medical professional, they are not the type of client you want, and that cat is nothing more than an object to them. And declawing the cat is not going to change that fact.
If you are concerned about a loss of income or clients, know that economics work both ways, and there is prosperity to be had in refusing to declaw. So much has been written about the large profit margins of declawing, and it’s all very true and very sad. But we assure you: the world is changing, and the writing is on the wall. A growing number of cat lovers want to support vets who do not declaw. Personally, I drive past 20 or so veterinary practices, braving the worst highway in Dallas, to get to the sole Pro-Claw vet in the DFW metroplex. And I’m not alone. A practice may not see the immediate financial impact of a single surgery, but it will have gained a lifetime of loyalty, respect and referrals from clients who know, without a doubt, that you truly care for their cat.
Vets help keep our cats healthy, but it’s becoming overwhelmingly apparent that declawing has no part in this deal. So we want our vets to know, with love: together we’re learning, and together we’re getting better at loving our animals. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t bother saying these things. Please, give it some thought. Please, do not declaw.