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From 5 September 2004 Issue

Paws Come With Claws
That's One Of Nature's Laws

Many cat owners, who genuinely love their cats, have no idea what declawing means to their animals. Declawing means far more than leaving your cat defenseless against an attack outdoors.

Scratching is a normal characteristic of a healthy cat. It exercises the foot muscles and removes dead tissue from the nails. It also has a soothing, comforting effect that creates a tranquil disposition.

IT MEANS:

The severing of ligaments and tendons that bring pain.

The creating of an imbalance that can lead to injury.

A change in personality and temperament.

A cat may go berserk, bite and growl.

It means you, as the cat guardian, have renounced the responsibility you assumed when you fell in love with that kitten or cat.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE A CAT'S CLAWS?

Dr. Louis J. Camuti, a practicing veterinarian for 58 years, puts it this way: " I wouldn't declaw a cat if you paid me $1,000 per nail ! "

Have you often wondered at a cat's remarkable grace and agility, it's faultless sense of balance?

To a great extent, this is due to its ingeniously designed retractable claws that allow it to establish footing for walking, running, springing, climbing or stretching.

WHAT HAPPENS TO A CAT WHEN IT IS DECLAWED?

First, it awakens from anesthesia, with its feet throbbing under the bandages, next, it has pain and then it finds it has trouble walking.

The physical effect of declawing is gradual weakening of the muscles of the legs, shoulder and back. Balance is impaired. Emotionally cats feel defenseless and thus live in a constant state of stress, making them more prone to disease.

Despite its grace, a cat is not sure-footed. Without the lighting-quick ability to grasp with its claws, it can easily be injured in a fall.

Deprived of its claws, a cat may turn to its only other form of defense- its teeth. It is fairly common for a declawed cat to become a biter. They do this out of fear and frustration.

WHY DO PEOPLE MAKE THEIR ANIMALS SUFFER THE PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL DISORIENTATION OF DECLAWING?

"To protect the furniture," is the most common reason.

"To keep my cat from scratching us when we try to play with him," is another.

What can you as a cat guardian do to protect yourself and your furniture without harming your cat?

GIVE YOUR CAT A MANICURE

It's best to start when it's a kitten. Take your cat to a professional groomer, or you can do it yourself. Use a pair of clippers made especially for cats. Have your vet show you how.

PROVIDE YOUR CAT WITH HIS OWN FURNITURE

Your cat should be fluffy-the scratching post should be rough and coarse. Buy a sisal (a harsh, scratchy hemp product) scratching post or make your own inexpensively.

TRAIN YOUR CAT

When a kitten starts to scratch furniture, gently pull it off and place its front paws on the scratching post. Keep the post in an easily accessible place so the cat becomes accustomed to using it.

If an older cat persists in scratching furniture, give it a squirt of lukewarm water from a child's water gun. Spray it any place but in the face. At the same time, say a sharp "NO." then take it back to its scratching post.

Shake a small amount of pleasantly scented bath oil on a piece of cotton. Attach the cotton to the part of the furniture that the cat scratches. It will repel the cat as long as the aroma remains.

Your cat gives you love and loyalty. Its the most it can give. You owe it the same love and loyalty. But you owe it one thing more-to leave its paws with claws.

SO IF YOU LOVE YOUR CAT, DON'T DECLAW

Go on to Heartworm Medication Recall
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