Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Fight Against Declawing

Cats have just found a new safe haven. In Berkley California declawing your cat is now a minor crime. They are one of the growing list of cities, including San Francisco and West Hollywood, to ban this practice. Berkeley’s city council unanimously voted to ban declawing in the city. Backers say that declawing is proven to be inhumane and painful to the cats that undergo the surgery. Councilman Jesse Arreguin, who co-authored the law, says that most declawing is done to benefit the owner, not done because of an extreme situation. Veterinarian Dr. Cristianne Schelling exposes the truth of declawing, “Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat’s toes,” she says, “A cat’s claw is not a toenail.” Declawing is actually more of an “American” thing. In countries like England, Italy, France, and Ireland declawing cats is either illegal or is considered extremely inhumane and performed under the most extreme circumstances. Cats, unlike most mammals that walk on the soles of their paws or feet, walk on their toes. All of their muscles, tendons, joints, ligaments, and nerves are specially designed to support and distribute the cat’s weight across its toes as it goes about its daily duties. A cat’s claws are essential to their lives. Claws are used for exercising, balance, and for stretching in their back, shoulders, legs, and paws. As  Dr. Cristianne Schelling explained before, a cat’s claw is not at all like the human fingernail, it is the last bone in the cat’s toe. In order to be declawed a cat must go through 10 separate, painful amputations. Why? Because, in order to remove the claw you must remove the bone, nerve, collateral ligaments, and the extensor and flexor tendons. A rather graphic comparison to this practice would be like having each of your fingers cut off at the last joint. Surprisingly, the California Veterinary Association opposes such bans against declawing, saying that the decision should be made between the owner and veterinarian. Their spokesman Carl Singer says “there are some cases where declawing is preferable to putting the animal down.”
    I firmly support the fight against declawing and I applaud the city of Berkeley for making this decision. I own two cats and I shudder to think of making them go through the pain of declawing. I know what people think when they’re scratched. I’ve been on the receiving end of many pretty serious scratches. Even so, I can’t see what these people see in declawing. Others seem to be more concerned in the health of their furniture then the health of their cats. For these cases and many more there are always happy, humane solutions. For instance, you could train your cat to scratch a scratching post instead of your new couch. You could trim the front claws, which actually doesn’t hurt at all if done properly. I utilize this method on my cats annually. One of the best solutions I’ve seen though, are Soft Paws. These little vinyl caps are glued onto the front claws. These are great for people who don’t have time to train their cats to use a scratching post or don’t trust themselves to trim properly. In the end it up to the public to make the humane decision and stop declawing today!

  • “Berkeley Bans Declawing of Cats” 11/11/09, The Mercury News, web address:
  • Informational Website, “What You need to Know About Declawing” “Outlawed Countries” “Technical Facts”, web address:  

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cat Agility!

Us darn cats! We seem to be content with our eat, sleep, play with the silly little faux mouse, eat, sleep lives, but no! We secretly want to be out in the agility ring.

Whoa, whoa, whoa… hold the phone! What did you say?

An agility contest is a circus of obstacles, something cats are too lazy or just too downright uninterested to do…right?

Wrong! For years we’ve seen excited dogs of all ages and their slightly worried, but still happy owners race around and across all kinds of devices designed to trip up the dog that is running the course. But dogs aren’t the only animals interested in agility. Some cats love to run obstacle courses too. It’s actually great for the high energy cats, as well as dogs, with few places to burn it off. As you learn about cat agility you realize that it makes sense because cats practically do the same thing at home already! We spend our hard earned money on buying little Mittens crinkly tunnels, 6 story condos covered with brown and tan carpet, and fishing pole toys that encourage your cat to leap and run. The Cat Fanciers Association came up with this idea about five years ago in Oregon. “Some cats take to the course like a duck to water, and have it down pat when it comes to running through tunnels and jumping through hoops. Others, though, seem to be more curious about the course, and will thoroughly inspect each obstacle before even thinking about tackling it,” they say.
Course completion times come between a few seconds to 15 minutes depending on how curious the cat competitor is, although the maximum time to run the course without being disqualified is 3 minutes. Timed runs are scored faults first, then time. Therefore a slow, accurate run around the ring would beat a fast, sloppy run with multiple faults. The course can start with any obstacle and the time starts when the cat’s front feet touch or pass through or over the first obstacle. Time ends when the cat’s front feet touch the floor after clearing the last obstacle.  Some faults are: the handler knocking down an obstacle or jump, the cat going into or over the wrong obstacle out of course sequence, cat refusal to complete an obstacle and bypassing it, and stopping more then 10 seconds once the run has started.
Cats can also be disqualified from the competition, but that is mostly by the discretion of the Agility Official. All of the competitions are held in jumbo cages so the cats can’t escape. According to the ICAT association, the official association of International Cat Agility Tournaments, “Good agility cats have the qualities to make happy, healthy companion cats. The most successful cats in agility will love to play, have an outgoing personality, and be in excellent physical condition. An agility course is like a playground to a cat.” The ICAT association says that your cat is ready for agility if they are: self confident, motivated, athletic, trained, and at the right age. They also advise that if you really want to go into agility with your cat you should start young. Now that you know all this, do you think that your cat is ready for agility?
Cat Agility! Yes! I salute whoever decided that this week Monterey county would discover cat agility by writing an article for the Herald newspapers. I myself have known about it for a few years but have been too young to qualify as a handler. I have one very high energy cat and I regret not getting her into something like this. Personally I feel that cats are a little bit under appreciated. Every time I see the Westminster Dog Show on the TV I complain. Sometimes, I get so bad that my parents have to send me out of the room. The truth of the matter is, cats not only have cat shows but these agility competitions too! But, does the media cover them? No! Last year I went to my first cat show at the Monterey Fair Grounds, it is an experience I will never forget. One day I’ll be a competitor in one of those shows and one day I will lead my cat around an agility ring too. I will show those dog lovers what we cat lovers are made of!

  • Informational Website, ICAT,web address:
  •  “Who Knew? Cats Dig Agility Contests Too!” 1/29/10, The Orange County Register, wed address:
  • “Cat’s on course for agility competitions”, 2/2/10, The Monterey County Herald

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pet Store Ban in California

One day, any day, animal lover Lisa DeLaurentiis walks into a petstore and is sick. DeLaurentiis hates watching pet-sellers in Palm Beach County sell out-of-town puppies and kittens to new pet owners. Inside, she knows that local shelters are forced to kill hundreds of unwanted dogs and cats each year. She also knows that Pet Store owners know that too.  Recently she couldn’t bear to see this any longer and Tuesday, she called on the county commission to ban the practice.
Ms. Laurentiis was one of eight other residents who pushed the commission to ban this. “We have enough [animals] inside this country,” she says. “We don’t need the 70-plus pet store bringing in unsterilzed, sick dogs and cats from out of this state and out of this country.” Some in the group said they would support allowing pet stores to sell locally bred puppies and kittens as long as the animals were spayed or neutered.
One Commissioner, Shelly Vana, said she was working with county managers on rule changes that would require pet stores to disclose where the puppies and kittens they sell were bred. "As a community, we are judged by how we treat children, elderly and animals," Vana said. "It is on my conscience, a bad thing to know that we are allowing so many animals to be killed.... I don't want to put people out of business but at the same time we are spending a lot of money on doing the wrong thing."
At least two cities across the country recently approved banning the sale of puppies and kittens at pet stores, but county managers say those laws have yet to face legal challenges. "There are significant issues involved," County Attorney Denise Nieman said.
Despite some objection, people across the nation are coming to attention about the pet store situation and whether we like it or not, change is coming.
I agree with Ms. DeLauerntiis. Pet stores shouldn’t be bringing more animals into a state that is already over populated. As I researched I happened to glance at the comments column and here is one example of what I found:

“They should shut down the Petland on Northlake first. I went in there by accident one time, not knowing that they sold animals, and wanted to cry/throw-up/scream. The animals were all standing on wire grates, no toys, no food, no water...many were obviously sick. I had to leave before I was in either a full fledged panic attack or I threw up. It was the most awful thing I've ever seen in my life. The conditions at PBC ACC are better. I can't believe anyone would give their money to that company”

    I applaud you RDC. I’ve been in many a pet store and what you say is true. At least 25% of stores across the country mistreat their animals. Shelters, on the other hand, don’t. I’m sure that a few, low budget and under-managed shelters do, but definitely not 25%. In fact, the SPCA near where my humans live has a “Kitty Wonderland” set up for their older cats. That’s definitely not mistreatment.

    Here’s another example:

     “So nobody can breed their own pet now that mandatory sterilization is the law, and now we take out the pet stores and allow people to buy only from breeders, whose animals WERE not mandatorily sterilized.
That's quite a breeder lobbying group you've got going on.
Sure it's just to "save the unwanted animals" or is it really all about eliminating unwanted stock so the better bred (non-mutt, pedigree, expensive $$$) animals bring more in terms of cash?
Ca-ching! And we have a winner!
"We have enough inside this county," said Lisa DeLaurentis, one of several residents who proposed the change during today's commission meeting. "We do not need the 70-plus pet stores bringing in unsterilized, sick dogs from out of this state and out of this country."
This, with Moffet's Census story, ought to be linked. Where is the passion against undocumented, often mistreated HUMANS who businesses continue to bring into this state and country to exploit them for cheap labor?

    Look Mary G, you’re obviously delusional and/or have a mental disorder and belong in a hospital. This is an article about pet stores and how they are shipping in foreign animals, not an article talking about shutting down everything but the breeders, let alone an article about humans. Just FYI, breeders make up a pretty generous part of the pet fanciers society, especially the cats. Getting rid of them could set everything off balance. Besides, I’m not alone in this thinking:

 “Get Real!! You are crazy. Do you know how many animals are killed everyday in shelters. In Dade County alone it’s over 150 per day, due to no space. Palm Beach County isn't good either. For your undocumented workers, that’s another issue that has nothing to do with this. If they weren't here illegally in the first place, they wouldn't be mistreated. Now get busy saving innocent animals!!!!”

That’s one, here’s another:

“Mandatory sterilization is NOT a law...increased tag fees for unsterilized animals is a law in hope to get people to spay/neuter their animals. Licenses for breeders is a law. No where in this county are you forced by law to sterilize your animal. Get your facts straight before commenting. This article is about animals, not humans, go vent somewhere else.”

So, as you can see, I’m pretty “fired up” about this topic and so are others. Those exerpts are real comments and those, defiantely aren’t the only ones. It’s been bugging me for ages and I’m glad someone’s finally making a move to fix this situation. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: Change is coming, whether you’re delusional like Mary G or not, it’s time we all stood up and fixed our pet stores.

  •  “Group calls for ban on pet store sale of dogs and cats in Palm Beach County” 3/11/10, The Palm Beach Post, web address: