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Effects of declawing on feline behavior

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... The procedure is generally requested by cat owners with the intention of avoiding damage to their property or personal injury from cat scratches. [1][2][3] However, evidence suggests elective onychectomy can be associated with lameness, acute and chronic pain, as well as an increased risk of back pain, house-soiling, increased biting behavior and barbering in cats. 2,[4][5][6] Pain, lameness and changes in behavior can also be present in cats regardless of the method of amputation or anesthetic and analgesic protocols. ...
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Objectives The aim of this study was to determine whether there was an increase in cat relinquishment for destructive scratching behavior, a change in overall feline surrender intake and euthanasia, or a change in average length of stay in a British Columbia shelter system after provincial legislation banning elective onychectomy. Methods Records of cats admitted to the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the 36 months prior to (1 May 2015–30 April 2018, n = 41,157) and after (1 May 2018–30 April 2021, n = 33,430) the provincial ban on elective onychectomy were reviewed. Total intake numbers, euthanasia and length of stay were descriptively compared between periods. Proportions of cats and kittens surrendered for destructive scratching, as well as the proportion of cats and kittens surrendered with an owner request for euthanasia, were compared using two-sample z-tests of proportions. Results Destructive behavior was found to be an uncommon reason for surrender (0.18% of surrendered cats) during the study period. There was no statistically significant difference in the number of cats surrendered for destructive scratching behavior ( z = −1.89, P >0.05) after the provincial ban on elective onychectomy. On the contrary, the proportion of owner-requested euthanasias decreased after the ban ( z = 3.90, P <0.001). The total number of cats surrendered, the shelter live release rate and average length of stay all remained stable or improved following the ban, though causation could not be determined. Conclusions and relevance The findings in this study suggest that legislation banning elective onychectomy does not increase the risk of feline shelter relinquishment – for destructive behavior or overall – and is unlikely to have a significant effect on shelter euthanasia or length of stay.
... Declawed cats also were no more likely to be euthanized at the shelter compared to cats that were not declawed; however, declawed cats stayed at the shelter longer. Owners surveyed after the procedure stated that they were generally satisfied or very satisfied with the procedure, and evidence of negative outcomes on behavior is limited (119)(120)(121)(122)(123). These numbers could be influenced by bias on the owners' part, as they elected to have their cats declawed. ...
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Veterinarians perform surgery for a number of reasons, from treating a problem to preventing future problems. There is an inextricable link between the physical and psychological aspects of an animal's health, and surgery is often a conduit to bridge that gap. Some surgical procedures can affect an animal's behavior, such as castration, and some pose an ethical dilemma, such as ear cropping and declawing. Ameliorating pain, decreasing stressful experiences for the animal, and identifying and treating concurrent problem behaviors are hallmarks of improving animal welfare. The purpose of this article is to outline some of these interrelationships and ethical dilemmas, providing evidence-based verification as applicable.
... [3][4][5][6][7] Inappropriate scratching is a major reason for owner distress, breakdown of the humananimal bond, may lead to relinquishment of the cat, [7][8][9] and appears to be the primary reason for onychectomy or tendonectomy in the USA and other countries. 4,[10][11][12][13] A number of recommendations have been given in the veterinary literature to prevent inappropriate scratching. [14][15][16] To our knowledge supportive data are limited to two recent publications, 4,17 and no data currently exist on relevant features of inappropriate scratching, such as preferred target items or materials. ...
Article
Objectives The objective of this study was to collect preliminary data on relevant features and preventative measures of feline inappropriate scratching. Preliminary data could then be used to inform future randomized controlled studies. Methods A paper questionnaire was distributed to 140 cat-owning clients of a small animal practice. The response rate was 82.9%. Questions related to features of inappropriate and designated items scratched, frequency of the behavior and how owners attempted to modify the behavior. The frequency of scratching was ranked and analyzed with repeated-measures models for differences between features of items. The effectiveness of techniques to modify scratching was analyzed with Student’s t-tests comparing frequencies of scratching between cats of survey participants who did and did not use specific techniques. Results Scratching of inappropriate items was reported for 83.9% of cats. Most cats (81.5%) scratched chairs or other furniture and 64.1% scratched carpet. The frequency of scratching inappropriate items was significantly influenced by type and material of the items scratched, with furniture and carpet, and fabric and carpet, respectively, being scratched most often. Most cats (76.1%) had a designated scratching item. The frequency of scratching designated items was significantly influenced by type, with cats using scratching posts and other items more often than scratch pads. Owners used a variety of punishment- and reward-based techniques to stop inappropriate scratching and encourage scratching of designated items; only one technique was found to have a significant effect, with the frequency of scratching designated items being significantly lower in cats that were placed near the item. Conclusions and relevance Furniture covered with fabric was an object frequently scratched. Fabric should be further investigated as a potential material to encourage desired scratching behavior. Scratch pads appeared less desired than scratching posts. Punishment was a common strategy to deter scratching but did not appear to influence the frequency of scratching.
... A more recent study found that approximately 21% of cats seen in veterinary hospitals near Raleigh, North Carolina were declawed (10). A survey of veterinary practices in Colorado reported a mean of 5.3 onychectomies performed for every 23.7 feline neuter surgeries (11), similar to the 27.6% of cats declawed simultaneously with neutering as reported by a private practice in New York (12). Responding veterinarians in Atlantic Canada reported a mean of 7.8 declaw procedures per month in 2001 (13). ...
Article
The objective of the study was to determine the proportion of practitioners from Ontario, Canada who perform onychectomy, identify the techniques utilized, and obtain practitioners views on the procedure. An anonymous survey was distributed to Ontario Veterinary Medical Association members. Mann-Whitney U-tests were used to compare responses of opinion questions related to declawing between respondents who indicated they perform declawing procedures and those who do not. Of 500 respondents, 75.8% reported performing onychectomy, with 60.1% of those reporting performing the procedure less than monthly and 73.3% only performing the procedure after recommending alternatives. Statistically significant differences were found between those who do and those who do not perform onychectomy for perception of procedural pain, concept of mutilation, perception of procedural necessity for behavior modification or prevention of euthanasia, and support of province-wide procedural bans. Abstract available from the publisher.
... In a survey of cat owners administered through an online bulletin board, 12 of 60 (20%) owners reported having cats that were declawed, 7 and results of a telephone survey of 662 randomly selected cat-owning households in Indiana revealed that 298 (45.1%) of respondents indicated they owned declawed cats. 8 One report 9 from a private practice in New York indicated that 27.6% of cats underwent onychectomy at the time of neutering, whereas a survey of veterinary practices in Colorado found that a mean of 5.3 onychectomies was performed for every 23.7 feline neuter surgeries. 10 More recently, a 2013 study 11 found that approximately 374 of 1,794 (21%) cats seen in veterinary hospitals near Raleigh, North Carolina were onychectomized. ...
... In a survey of cat owners administered through an online bulletin board, 12 of 60 (20%) owners reported having cats that were declawed, 7 and results of a telephone survey of 662 randomly selected cat-owning households in Indiana revealed that 298 (45.1%) of respondents indicated they owned declawed cats. 8 One report 9 from a private practice in New York indicated that 27.6% of cats underwent onychectomy at the time of neutering, whereas a survey of veterinary practices in Colorado found that a mean of 5.3 onychectomies was performed for every 23.7 feline neuter surgeries. 10 More recently, a 2013 study 11 found that approximately 374 of 1,794 (21%) cats seen in veterinary hospitals near Raleigh, North Carolina were onychectomized. ...
Article
OBJECTIVE To estimate the proportion of veterinarians working with feline patients in private practices who do or do not perform onychectomy and assess attitudes regarding and practices related to onychectomy in a large population of veterinary practitioners. DESIGN Anonymous online survey. SAMPLE 3,441 veterinarians. PROCEDURES An online survey was provided to members of the Veterinary Information Network from June 18, 2014, through July 9, 2014. Descriptive statistics and frequency distributions for applicable response types were calculated, and Mann-Whitney U tests were conducted to compare responses to onychectomy-related opinion questions between respondents who indicated they did or did not perform the procedure. Not all respondents answered every question. RESULTS 2,503 of 3,441 (72.7%) survey respondents reported performing onychectomy, and 827 (24.0%) indicated they did not; 1,534 of 2,498 (61.4%) performing the procedure reported a frequency of < 1 onychectomy/month. Most (2,256/3,023 [74.6%]) respondents who performed onychectomy indicated that they recommended nonsurgical alternatives. Surgical techniques and approaches to analgesia varied, with use of a scalpel only (1,046/1,722 [60.7%]) and perioperative administration of injectable opioids (1,933/2,482 [77.9%]) most commonly reported. Responses to opinion questions in regard to the degree of pain associated with onychectomy and recovery; whether declawing is a form of mutilation, is necessary in some cats for behavioral reasons, or is a necessary alternative to euthanasia in some cats; and whether state organizations should support a legislative ban on onychectomy differed significantly between respondents who did and did not perform the procedure. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Onychectomy is a controversial topic, and this was reflected in survey results. In this sample, most veterinarians performing the procedure reported that they did so infrequently, and most offered nonsurgical alternatives to the procedure.
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La antropización, definida como la transformación que lleva a cabo el ser humano sobre los paisajes naturales de los diferentes ecosistemas del planeta, genera afectaciones a la fauna nativa. El interés científico por comprender, reducir o revertir estas afectaciones ha resultado en numerosas acciones de manejo para lograr la conservación biológica de especies nativas tanto en ambientes urbanos como naturales. Con base en el análisis de las actividades mencionadas, en este libro se presenta una serie de propuestas de manejo que han favorecido la conservación de la fauna, las cuales provienen de la experiencia directa de los autores o de revisiones de literatura, e identifican factores y actores clave que deben ser tomados en cuenta por el lector al implementar medidas de conservación para el manejo de fauna en ambientes antropizados. Este libro es el quinto en la serie de publicaciones generadas por la Red Temática conacyt Biología, Manejo y Conservación de Fauna Nativa en Ambientes Antropizados (refama, www.refama.org). Esta red, formada por académicos, miembros de organizaciones gubernamentales y no gubernamentales, y participantes de la sociedad en general, fue creada bajo dos premisas. La primera es que no es suficiente crear y mantener áreas naturales protegidas para resguardar a especies animales, sino que deben implementarse medidas de estudio y manejo de fauna en los propios ambientes impactados. La segunda es que en la implementación de las medidas mencionadas es necesaria la participación de diferentes sectores sociales, incluyendo la academia, el sector político- gubernamental, organizaciones públicas y privadas y, en suma, la sociedad.
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Objective: Feline house soiling is a significant and multifactorial problem that critically affects the human-animal bond in the United States. Many cats that display house soiling are relinquished to animal shelters by their owners, where they are at risk of being euthanized. Understanding the factors that influence house soiling is important in order to reduce the likelihood of this behavior problem and by extension, reduce the likelihood that cats will be relinquished. Many different factors have been hypothesized to influence house soiling. One of these factors is declawing. Declawing (onychectomy) and surgical method used to declaw could increase the likelihood that cats will house soil. The objective of this study was to determine if there was a correlation between declaw status, surgical method of declaw, and feline house soiling. Design: This cross-sectional study surveyed cat owners of both declawed and clawed cats to determine the prevalence of house soiling in these two populations. Sample and Procedures: Using a random-digit database, 281 cat owners completed phone survey interviews involving the behaviors and health history of 455 cats in Polk County, Iowa. Results: Declawed cats trended towards a greater prevalence of house soiling compared to clawed cats. Surgical method of declaw was a risk factor for house soiling, as cats declawed using non-laser methods had a statistically higher rate of house soiling compared to those declawed using a carbon dioxide laser (CDL) procedure. Conclusion and Clinical Relevance: In a cross-sectional telephone survey of cat-owning households, house soiling in cats was associated with being declawed using a non-laser method of declaw. These results may impact decision-making of cat owners and veterinarians alike when electing to pursue or undertake elective declaw of cats.
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OBJECTIVE To determine whether associations existed between onychectomy or onychectomy technique and house soiling in cats. DESIGN Cross-sectional study. SAMPLE 281 owners of 455 cats in Polk County, Iowa, identified via a list of randomly selected residential phone numbers of cat owners in that region. PROCEDURES A telephone survey was conducted to collect information from cat owners on factors hypothesized a priori to be associated with house soiling, including cat sex, reproductive status, medical history, and onychectomy history. When cats that had undergone onychectomy were identified, data were collected regarding the cat's age at the time of the procedure and whether a carbon dioxide laser (CDL) had been used. Information on history of house soiling behavior (urinating or defecating outside the litter box) was also collected. RESULTS Onychectomy technique was identified as a risk factor for house soiling. Cats for which a non-CDL technique was used had a higher risk of house soiling than cats for which the CDL technique was used. Cats that had undergone onychectomy and that lived in a multicat (3 to 5 cats) household were more than 3 times as likely to have house soiled as were single-housed cats with intact claws. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results of this cross-sectional study suggested that use of the CDL technique for onychectomy could decrease the risk of house soiling by cats relative to the risk associated with other techniques. This and other findings can be used to inform the decisions of owners and veterinarians when considering elective onychectomy for cats.
Article
Opponents of declawing contend that it causes behavioral problems, whereas others, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, state that because destructive scratching is a risk factor for relinquishment and euthanasia, declawing is a reasonable alternative. If declawing causes behavior problems, the declawing of cats would put them at higher risk of surrender and euthanasia. If declawing is assumed to cause behavior problems, declawed cats could be at higher risk for lack of adoption and subsequent euthanasia at shelters. We compared the estimate of the percentage of declawed cats in the general population to that found in the shelter population. We also examined the possible relationships between declawing and biting behavior, length of stay in a shelter, and euthanasia. Finally, we compared the number of actual biting cats in the shelter to estimates of cats surrendered to shelters at large for the stated reason of biting. In post hoc exploratory analyses, in addition to declaw status, we included other variables that could contribute to predicting the likelihood of a cat biting, of being euthanized or of staying longer in a shelter. Biting behavior was operationalized as contact between a cat’s teeth and a human such that the human’s skin was broken. We found that declawed cats were significantly underrepresented in the shelter as compared to estimates in the population at large (p < 0.001). We found no significant correlation between declawing and biting behavior (p = 0.456), or between declawing and euthanasia (p = 0.579). We found a significant increase in the length of time that declawed cats spent at the shelter before being adopted (p < 0.001). We also found that biting behavior was rarer in the shelter cats than would be expected based on owner reports for reasons of surrender on average to a shelter (p < 0.001). Exploratory analyses of variables contributing to the risks of biting, lack of adoption, and euthanasia revealed a number of alternative explanatory factors.
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