Last Update: 6/6/2017 2:32:00 PM
Ask the Vet's Pets: Claw management is safer, kinder than declawing
Dear Christopher Cat: I live in New York, where the state may soon outlaw declawing. My adult cats are declawed, but I recently adopted a kitten who isn't. How can I prevent her from scratching my furniture?
Christopher responds: Scratching is a normal feline behavior. One way to protect your furniture is to regularly trim your cat's claws. The cats in our family were adopted as adults, and our mom used special treats and yummy food to accustom us to the procedure.
Use catnip, a feather toy and Feliway pheromone to train your kitten to use a scratching post. The post should be stable and tall enough for an adult cat to fully stretch her body when she scratches.
If your cat scratches elsewhere, cover the area with double-stick tape or aluminum foil.
Alternatively, you can cover the claws with plastic nail caps, which last four to six weeks. If you have trouble applying them, your veterinary team can do it for you.
Declawing is rejected by many veterinarians and cat lovers as cruel, because it requires amputation of each toe's third bone, from which the claw grows. It's like amputating each human finger at the first joint.
Research shows that declawing leads to chronic pain in 1 percent of cats. Since one in four of the nation's 96 million household cats undergoes declaw surgery, that's 240,000 cats with surgically-induced chronic pain.
Declawing is illegal in most of the developed world, including many countries in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.
In the U.S., it's not just New York that plans to ban declawing. Earlier this year, the New Jersey Assembly passed a similar bill, which still must go through the state Senate.
Some California cities, including Los Angeles, already outlaw cat declawing. Opponents claimed it would lead to increased abandonments and euthanasia, but that hasn't happened.
Dear Daisy Dog: I saw a dog food labeled BPA-free. Should I switch to that? I thought BPA was in plastic. What's it doing in dog food?
Daisy responds: Bisphenol A (BPA) has been used for the past 60 years as a plasticizer, appearing in polycarbonate plastic containers, refrigerator shelving, CDs, DVDs and other products.
It's also found in the epoxy resins that coat the insides of metal food cans, where it's been shown to leach into the food.
In the body, BPA acts like a hormone and disrupts many cell functions, so it's not surprising that high levels are associated with a variety of diseases in humans and pets.
A recent study of two canned dog foods, one of which was touted as BPA-free, found similar levels of BPA in both. After dogs were fed these canned foods for two weeks, BPA levels in their blood tripled.
Until more is known about BPA's effects in dogs, the issue remains controversial. If you decide to change your dog's diet, consider switching from canned to dry food.
Ask the Vet's Pets appears Friday in the print edition of the Reading Eagle. The animal authors of the column live with Lee Pickett, V.M.D., who practices companion animal medicine. Contact them at www.askthevetspets.com.