Most of you know that the New York State Veterinary Medical Society (NYSVMS) and their leaders are working hard to stop the bill in their state that would protect cats from having their paws mutilated from the inhumane procedure of declawing. If you haven’t read about it, here is the story. NYSVMS Tries to Stop the Cat Protection Bill in NY
The NYSVMS spent $98,000 in 2016 to talk the legislators into believing that veterinarians take declawing very seriously and counsel clients about the procedure and only do it as a last resort.
I thought that the veterinarians who would most likely be practicing what they preach in regards to declawing, would be the Presidents and officers at the New York State Veterinary Medical Society. After all, they want all the legislators to believe and trust them to believe that declawing must remain a procedure on their lists of services at their practices. Here is the first part of this series. NYSVMS President & Declawing
As you know, I do a lot of research studies and collect data. Some of it I collect myself, some of it my supporters send me, and some is sent to me from veterinary professionals who work inside vet practices.
Here is a glimpse on how some of the officers of the NYSVMS personally address declawing at their practices. (Two of the 2016 NYSVMS officers have stopped amputating cat’s toes because of their own health issues with their hands) Some of the other vets on the board of the NYSVMS work at Cornell as professors and others have equine practices so they don’t declaw cats.
These facts were gathered up in 2016 and 2017 by either phone calls or emails by cat owners who were asking about getting their cats declawed at all of these NYSVMS board members practices. Every practice requires an exam first and every practice said that was just to make sure your cat or kitten is healthy enough to go under anesthesia for the surgery.
Two of the practices are all cat practices. 11 NYSVMS officer’s practices are in this study (Including the current President and the 2015 President’s practice. Only 3 of them mentioned anything about counseling or the humane alternatives and other than 1, it was very minimal except for ONE of the board members)
As far as I have searched, none of these Presidents or officers of the NYSVMS have any information on their websites about the facts of declawing and that it is an amputation procedure and not good for a cat. None of them have any information about helping cat owners with scratching issues or the humane alternatives. A simple gesture that they could do if they really cared since there are plenty of links to stories out there that they could use. Even if they posted this one from the Humane Society United States HSUS Declawing Info
REMEMBER, DECLAWING A KITTEN IS NEVER A LAST RESORT SCENARIO! KITTENS CAN BE TRAINED TO — USE SCRATCHERS. MANY VETS WILL APPLY SOFT PAWS FOR AROUND $10. All these vets will declaw a kitten, including the President of the NYSVMS who even declaws them as young as 3-4 months. Most of them say they like to combine the spay/neuter surgeries. Declawing does bring in a lot of money to many vets including these “leaders” of the NYSVMS.
Only 4 vets in this “study” use laser to declaw cats, and employees at all 4 of those, tell you that their lasers are much better for the declaw surgeries because there is quicker healing, less pain, and less bleeding for your cat.
Ford Veterinary Association- Dr Walter McCarthy, 2017 AVMA delegate-
Cat owner called about getting a neuter for an 8 month old kitten. Employee quoted a price of $155. Cat owner asked about also getting a declaw for the kitten. Employee said a neuter/declaw is $415 and said, “If you want to do them at the same time it is cheaper since you are only paying for anesthesia once.”
Cat owner asked if Dr McCarthy is skilled at declaws? Employee of 28 yrs said yes, and, “We do them all the time. Some weeks he may do 3 or 4 of them and other weeks he may not do any. “
Cat owner asked about also getting a declaw for a 2 ½ year old cat. Employee said the cat has to be seen prior to make sure it is not too heavy to be declawed and a two feet declaw is $325.
Cat owner asked if their cat would be ok after the declaw since they were worried. Employee said, Usually the recovery is a week to 10 days” and said there are no long term negative consequences.
Cat owners asked about reading things online that said declawing is bad and there are negative consequences and they say, “If you want to look up something bad online I’m sure you can find it by researching, just about everything.” Employee said, “All of us that work here have had our cats declawed.”
The Cat Hospital- owned by Dr Eric Bregman, AVMA Delegate and Dr Allan Bregman, Treasurer of NYSVMS performs the declaws. Dr Robin Sturtz, Long Island district officer works here but doesn’t do surgeries.
2017- Cat owner asked about a neuter and a declaw for an 8 month old kitten. Receptionist said they would need to see the cat first to see if the cat is healthy enough for the procedures. First time exam cost is $15.
Cat owner asked if the vet skilled at the declaw procedure. Employee said yes and that Dr Allan Bregman uses a laser to help with the healing for the declaws.
Cat owner asked if the cats are ok afterwards? Yes. Employee said, “Funny story the other day, there was a kitten that came in and had the declaw and he was so frickjn cute.” “He was upset that he had to wear bandages but after the bandages were removed, he was still his lovey dovey self. He was fine.” Employee said, “After a couple of days they go home and they are good to go.” Employee said the cats are “great after” the declaws.
Cat owner asked if Dr Bregman does declaws regularly? Employee said, “Yes” and “We do them whenever a client asks for them.”
2016-The employee at this practice tells you that you need an exam to “meet” your 3 month old and 2 1/2 yr old cats and do the pre-screening bloodwork and check if they are up to date on vaccines. When you ask the employee at this practice if declawing is ok to do to your cats and if they will be alright, they say, “Absolutely, we do many… 100’s of declaws and I’ve been her 15 yrs and we use laser and it’s much more better, there no bleeding and it’s terrific. I’ve had my own cats declawed and not to worry.”
The board member vet, Dr Eric Bregman, says this in an email to a cat owner asking about a declaw, ” The kitten needs to be at least four months old before we can do the neuter/declaw. I amassuming it’s only the front paws you would like declawed? These procedures are done on Tuesdays. We can offer a discount of 10% on the entire invoice for both cats. The total cost for both cats would be $1513.80 (after discount).
Glove Cities Veterinary Hospital- Dr Mark Will, Capital District-
Cat owner calls and asks to get a kitten and a 2 1/2 yr old cat declawed. Employee asked if the kitten is neutered and says the kitten declaw is less expensive if you do the declaw and neuter together and it’s around $540-$660. This employee said their laser promotes faster healing, less blood, and less pain. An employee said the recovery is about a week to where the cat will be back to their “normal self.”
Cat owners asked in emails about getting their kitten and a 2 1/2 yr old cat declawed. Cat owner expressed concern about the procedure and don’t want any issues or if there are long term consequences to declawing. Employee reassured them and wrote, “We frequently do declaws” and “we use the CO2 laser which helps greatly reduce bleeding, pain and heal time.”
They send you a form that says, “the declaw procedure involves removing all the nails on the front feet” and “there will be small incisions on the end of each toe” and “the skin will be glued together.” Price for an estimate for neuter declaw is between $606-882.
Lyons Veterinary Clinic- Dr Robert Hamilton, Finger Lakes district-
Cat owners calls practice t get a kitten and 2 1/2 yr old cat declawed. Person on the phone asks if you want 2 paws or all four. Prices for declaw are based on weight and they won’t declaw the kitten until it’s 5 month. Price for the four paws laser declaw is around $275 they tell you. Cat owner asks if their cats will be ok and employee says that they have been doing them for years and yes. They tell you that they use laser and it makes it “cleaner, less stress on the animal, and quicker and cleaner” instead of using the scalpel.
Clear Lakes Animal Wellness- Dr Victoria Bentley, Central New York District-
Cat owners asked about getting kitten declawed and prices. Cat owners ask if cats are ok after they get declawed and if there are any long term negative consequences. Employee said, “Yes, both my cats were declawed by Dr Bentley and they are fine.” Cat owner was given a price of $415-$570 for kitten declaw/neuter and asked if they wanted to set up an appointment for exam and blood work to see if the cat is healthy enough for the procedure and then they can schedule the surgery.
County Animal Hospital, Dr Robert Weiner, Westchester/Rockland district-
Cat owners emailed this practice and asked to get cats declawed and Dr Robert Weiner counseled the cat owners in emails.
Dr Weiner tells cat owners that they never mention declawing to his cat owner clients and the client has to ask them about it first. Although he says, “While I do perform this surgery when requested. I try to discourage people from declawing their cats and my own cat is not declawed. This procedure has no medical benefit except that it allow some people to own cats that otherwise might not so it enables some cats to have a home.”
Dr Weiner says they would prefer to teach owners to trim their cat’s nails and allow them to keep their claws and informs cat owners that the surgery involves amputation of the last digit of each of the front toes. Vet informs cat owners that when they do declaws they take great care to provide adequate pain relief, pre-op, during surgery and after surgery.
Dr Weiner says that there is no scientific evidence that cats declawed with lasers do any better than those done with a scalpel assuming there is a good technique. Dr Weiner’s writes, ” the notion that laser is better has been created by companies that sell the $30,000 laser machines and perpetuated by practitioners who need to justify the purchase.”
Dr Weiner says that none of the vets would do this procedure if it was terrible and that it isn’t. They tell you that your cat will likely be completely fine afterwards with or without laser. They tell you that there is no medical benefit to declawing for the patient and if your kitten is gentle and you can trim the nails then there is no reason to declaw a cat.
Dr Weiner tells you that they declaw cats relatively rarely compared to other vets and they really don’t like to do them. They say that if they can encourage an owner to not do a declaw then they are happier and believe that is in most cases the right thing. They added that there are cats who would be homeless or worse if declawing were not an option because there are some cats who are highly destructive with their claws or who are aggressive with their claws and there are some owners with health issues who can not afford to be scratch and they would not be able to provide a home for a cat otherwise. This vet tells you that they declaw cats relatively rarely compared to other vets and they really don’t like to do them.
When a cat owners calls and asks to get their cat declawed at this County Animal Hospital and asks if their cat will be ok after getting it declawed, the employee says, ” Oh yea, we do them all the time.”
Community Veterinary Center- Dr David Leahy, Catskill Mountain District- This board member vet doesn’t declaw anymore but the other vet, Dr Grody will and has done a lot of them according to an employee at this practice. They tell you that laser doesn’t make much difference in declaws and see clients cats who had laser declaw at other vet practices that have had a lot of negative issues.
They asked if the cat owner has considered alternatives such as soft paws but also say your kitten would be ok afterwards if you were to get it done.
Cats Exclusively- Dr Charles Fleming, Genesse Valley district –
This board member doesn’t declaw cats anymore at their practice because of a problem with his hand, but has another vet, Dr Lann who will and say that he is good at declaws. They tell you in emails that kittens appear to recuperate quicker when they are declawed younger. They tell you, “they weigh less and therefore there is less stress on their feet when trying to stand again. We do not find laser necessary of this operation.” They tell cat owners in an email this, “the doctor will want to fully discuss all other options with you prior to declaw as it is a major procedure amputating the phalanges.”
They tell you that they only do all four paws for someone who is an HIV patient or there is a danger of being scratched.
The employee on the phone tells cat owner asking for a declaw for their 3 month old and 2 1/2 yr old cat that for the “baby kitty it’s $447 and for an adult cat it’s $504.” This doesn’t include a $58 exam or booster shots. They said to just bring in the kitten and they will get her up to stuff and get her ready for the surgery.
Oyster Bay Animal Hospital- Dr Surinder S. Wadyal, Long Island district-
Cat owners ask if their kitten will be ok because they heard it is best to declaw kittens young. Employee said “yes, you do want to get them early but it is still a pretty big surgery for them. They can’t put pressure on their paws. It’s like if you were to take the nails out of your nail bed on both of your hands. They can’t step down on their hands. We would keep them there for about 3 days. “
Miller/Clark Animal Hospital- Dr Paul Amerling, Westchester/Rockland district-
Cat owner asked about getting a neuter and a declaw for a kitten and older cat. Employee that has worked there for 7 years said that you have to come in for an estimate, exam is $89 and said they have to physically exam every patient to make sure they are healthy enough to go under anesthesia.
Employee said that all their doctors are trained to do declaws but that they don’t do them on a routine basis because, “it’s not atypical for an adult cat or an adolescent cat to have them declawed because it’s very painful. We usually do them when they are a kitten.”
Cat owner asked if their cat will be ok after the declaw. Employee said, “The procedure is quick but we keep the patient here in the hospital for two days on observation to see how they are healing and moving around, mobility wise.”
Cat owner asked if the cat will be ok long term. Employee said, “I would assume so, but you are essentially taking off the first digit of every paw. I can’t say for sure. I’ve seen declawed cats be fine, they walk around normal , they are fine, they jump around on things they are absolutely normal. Can I say for every patient, I don’t know. It depends on how they are.”
Employee said they don’t use a laser and said, “we do it the old procedural way, they actually have to extend the digit, cut around and break down the tissue. It’s a blade, a scalpel.”
When asked how often they do declaws employee said, “It’s very very rare that we have declaws done, but we do do them.”
Cat owner asked when will their cat be ok after the declaw and employee said, “Usually within a week they are already moving around just like normal.”
Asked about declawing a 2 ½ yr old cat. Employee said, “It’s not recommended for older cats because it’s very very painful, the recovery is a lot longer and then they may show or exhibit behavioral issues or show aggressiveness by biting people.”
Cat owner asked about declawing the younger cat and employee said, “You are kind of desensitizing them at an early on age because they are so young, but again it’s not an ideal thing because god forbid you have to let them go or they get outside, they don’t have any means to defend themselves.”
Cat owner asked if that’s the only thing to worry about with a declaw and employee said, “Yes.”
Declawing does NOT keep a cat out of a shelter or stop them from being euthanized. Here are declawed cats in shelters near the 2015 and 2016 NYSVMS President’s practices.
Also, go to facebook and type in declawed at the top of the search bar and then click on “Latest.” About every 5 minutes you will see a declawed cat being thrown away by the owners because they are moving or all of a sudden became allergic to them.