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Why not declaw a cat?

Declawed cats have no means of defending themselves or escaping from danger. You become totally responsible for your declawed cat's safety.

Declawed cats may resort to biting when they feel threatened. Owners of nervous cats mistakenly believe declawing will make cats safer, when declawing may actually make cats more insecure.

Declawing is painful. The vet removes the last joint of each toe while the cat is under anesthesia. When the cat wakes up, the toes hurt! The cat may suffer from complications such as abscesses.

Since the last joint of each toe is removed, the cat's balance will be affected. Can you imagine suddenly living without the last joint of each finger and toe?

What are the alternatives to declawing?

Get a pair of nail trimmers made for pets and trim your cat's nails regularly. Carefully clip off the tip of each nail. Do not cut the pink area. Trimming keeps the "hook" from growing at the end of the nail--that way, the cat can make natural scratching motions without pulling threads from the fabric.

Buy or make sturdy carpeted or bark-covered scratching posts. Each post should be tall enough for an adult cat to stretch out to full length (30" to 36"). You can also get corrugated paper posts to place on the floor. Because cats sometimes claw to mark their territory, two or three posts around your house will work better than one.

Train the cat to use the posts. The younger the cat, the easier it is to train. When the cat uses the post, pet and praise it. When the cat scratches the furniture, yell "no!", then put the cat on one of the posts.

To help break the furniture habit, use clear contact paper sheets to cover areas where your cat tends to scratch. Or, fill a clean squirt bottle with plain water and squirt the cat when it scratches the furniture.

With a little attention and training, you can keep your cat from scratching the furniture without costly, painful surgery.

Are you familiar with heartworms?

This is a common problem afflicting Georgia pets. This is a highly preventable infestation of parasites in your pets heart. Cats and dogs are affected and both can receive medication to prevent this deadly disease. The heartworm is a parasite that is carried be the mosquito and prevented from infecting your pet by a monthly pill you can get from your veterinarian. Part of responsible pet ownership involves protecting your pet from this problem. There is a treatment for this disease, however it is much better for your pet and your wallet to not allow this problem to happen to your best friend. Prevention is always better than treatment.

Is your pet comfortable?

The weather affects our pets just like it does us. If your pet lives outside he should have a house that is just as well built as your own. No animal should have to depend solely on his coat for protection from the elements. Rain can bring your pets body temperature down and cause severe medical problems. Including skin infections and foot problems from the mud. Freezing temperatures are just as dangerous for our pets as for us. If it’s too cold out for you then it is too cold for your pet. Bring your pet inside whenever it is too cold outside for you. You can purchase inexpensive crates at Walmart just for this purpose if your pet is not housetrained.

Too hot for our pets?

Heat stroke is a common problem for animals, especially in the summertime. Heat stroke occurs when the core temperature of an animal exceeds its normal set-point and reaches temperatures in excess of 106*F. From these elevated temperatures, death may occur in less than an hour as a result of permanent organ damage and blood clotting disorders. A high temperature occurs rapidly when the animal's environment is enclosed and has poor ventilation, such as in a parked car with the windows closed or even cracked. The temperature inside a closed car in the direct sun may exceed 120*F in less than 20 minutes, even when it is only 70*F outside. Therefore, pets are at risk of heatstroke inside a parked car during the hot and humid temperatures of our Marietta summers.

Humans differ from dogs and cats in their cooling mechanisms. People can rely on sweating to cool off, but dogs and cats must cool themselves through their lungs by panting. When the air gets too warm, the animal is no longer able to cool itself because the air is too hot for the lungs, and as a result its core temperature begins to rise.

An owner can recognize that their pet is suffering from heat stroke by noting the appearance of the animal. The owner can look for excess panting, hyper salivation (drooling), very dark mucous membranes (gums), diarrhea and/or vomiting, lethargy or even coma.

If heat stroke is suspected, the pet should be immediately seen by a veterinarian. The whole body of the animal needs to be cooled immediately to avoid a fatal outcome. This is best accomplished by rinsing using cool, not cold, water. Cold water is not recommended because cold water constricts the vessels in the animal which will inhibit heat loss and slow the cooling process. The veterinarian will probably also need to administer medications and perform treatments to prevent vascular collapse and shock.

A few tips can be easily followed to keep your pet safe and healthy this summer. Be sure never to leave your cat or dog in an unattended car. Also, your pets should have plenty of water and shade if they are left outdoors. A close eye should be kept on dogs and cats that have not had significant exercise recently, are overweight, or have respiratory disease. Luckily, heatstroke is a problem that is easily prevented in our pets by ensuring they have plenty of fresh air in a cool environment.

Carrie Friedewald
University of Georgia
College of Veterinary Medicine
Class of 2002

 

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