Tag: adoption

Don’t take my claws, I need those!

Up until I had started working at TLC Animal Hospital, I didn’t know much about declawing & what all it entails. I had no idea that declawing was basically removing the last joint on their paws. I had no idea that it changes the way your cat’s body bears its weight. I thought it was just something that people did to their cats if they didn’t go outside.

tiggerI remember our oldest cat, Tigger, getting declawed. She had came home with these bright orange bandages on her legs & we had to use this weird paper litter. My parents had decided to get her declawed because she was tearing up my mom’s legs, they were worried about her hurting my brother & I, plus she was also incredibly feisty whenever we took her to the vet. I remember her getting loose in PetsMart once because she attacked one of the technicians in the back & escaped. We used to joke that Tigger had a tally in her carrier for how many people she had injured at the vet. She healed just fine & made up for the lack of claws with increased slapping power.

nissanBy the time we got our second cat, Nissan, we knew more about declawing & we didn’t want to put her through that. However, she started tearing up furniture even with more than enough proper things to scratch on. Tigger, being the queen that she was, would pick on Nissan, & we didn’t want Tigger to get hurt since she didn’t have claws. I remember having a lot of issues with her when she was recovering. There were issues with her bandages & we were not sent home with any medications for pain. I remember her being very scared when she came home & she spent most of her recovery time hiding in my room. She ended up healing just fine, but eventually part of her claws grew back on her front paws & she would still scratch at the furniture some.

weezeWhen we got our third cat, Weasley, he would play so rough with the other two that, again, we didn’t want them to get hurt by his claws. He played rough with us as well & I vividly remember him attacking my leg once & leaving part of a claw in my knee. My brother & I were the main ones that took care of Weasley’s vet visits when he was a kitten, & we were never told about nail caps, trimming, or anything. There was no question about it when we asked for him to be declawed when we got him neutered.Main_Graphic_Claws

Declawing is a major procedure & it’s going to take time not only for your cat to heal properly, but to also adjust to life without that last digit on their toes. Younger cats heal from this much faster, but this can be extremely difficult for older cats, especially if they’re overweight. It takes a cat 10-14 days to heal from this surgery. They need to be confined in a small space during this time. They should not run, jump, pounce, or play during this time. The more time they spend on their paws while healing, the longer it’s going to take for them to fully heal. You also risk the chance of sutures coming out, or being ripped out, along with infection if your cat is not properly confined. You have to use paper litter while your cat’s paws are healing as well. Using regular litter can lead to dust or other small particles getting into the surgery sites causing irritation, discomfort, & possible infection.

What should I do & what are my alternatives?

With so many alternatives available, declawing should never be your first choice. Below is a list of the alternatives & general information about them. If you’re concerned about your cat’s nails or are considering declawing, please take the time to read through these options & give them a chance first.

postScratching Posts: Scratching is a natural thing for cats, so having appropriate places for them to do so is important. Every cat, regardless of the status of their claws, should have somewhere to scratch. There are a variety of scratching posts made from different materials. Cardboard, rope, carpet, & so on. My cats prefer the rope kind. Depending on the material, these can help file down their nails some. Don’t worry if you don’t have space for a huge cat tower. There are so many different shapes & sizes to choose from that you should have no problem finding one that perfect for your house & your cat.

clippersTrimming: Regular trimming of your cat’s nails greatly reduces the likelihood of your cat damaging your furniture. If you have a new kitten, start working with their paws early on. This will help them get used to having their paws messed with & help cut down on them wanting to fight against having their nails trimmed. Be sure to use proper tools as well. Human nail clippers should not be used for this. I, personally, prefer the nail clippers that look like small scissors. There are spring loaded ones, but they can get stuck sometimes if you don’t use enough pressure when clipping.188774-300x300-claw-clipping-diagram

It can be scary trimming your cat’s nails at first, trust me, I know. I never wanted to even try because I was scared that I was going to make them bleed. Be sure to just trim the tips of the nails. It’s usually easy to see how far you can go back without hitting the quick. Doing this on a regular basis can help the quick go back as well, allowing you to keep the nails shorter overall. At TLC Animal Hospital, we are more than happy to show you how to properly trim your cat’s nails. We do this with all adoption exams for cats & dogs, but we’re happy to show anyone that wants to learn.

nailcapsNail Caps: These are both adorable & functional! They come in a variety of sizes & colors so you should have no problem with finding the right ones for your cat. Trimming the nails first is ideal, this will help the nail cap last longer. Apply the glue to the inside of the cap, extend the claw & then place the cap on the claw. When properly applied, nail caps can last up to two weeks.

tapeDeterrent Sprays & Tapes: There are sprays that you can use on the items that you do not want your cat to scratch on. These leave behind a scent that is unpleasant to cats & discourages them from going back. These can be scents like cinnamon & other herbs, so they’re not off-putting to humans. The tapes are very sticky & can be used as a temporary barrier for your furniture to help prevent scratching. Usually, cats will not mess with something sticky once they realize how it feels. As always, make sure that you have something nearby that is appropriate for your cat to scratch on when using these products. However, these are not guaranteed to work with all cats. Cats are weird, some could care less about smells & other could care less about getting into something messy.

feFeliScratch: This is a newer product that helps encourage appropriate scratching behavior. If this had been available when we were dealing with Nissan’s scratching, we definitely would’ve done this instead of declawing. Use FeliScratch on the posts that you want your cat to scratch on & apply it in vertical lines. It has a temporary blue dye to attract your cat’s attention to it. It also contains synthetic pheromones to draw them to it & catnip to keep them coming back. We highly recommend using this anytime you have a new cat or kitten to help them learn early on what they can & can’t scratch on in their new environment. Don’t worry, you can use this to help “older” cats as well – they don’t have to be new to the house & it’s never too late for them to learn.

feliscratch

27459547_10154877923105666_4246769826786111965_nCurrently, my boyfriend & I have three cats (Marcello, Ravio, & Gnocchi). We’re able to trim their nails just fine. While they aren’t overjoyed when it’s time to do so, they let me do it. If you had told me when I was little that I’d have cats with claws & be able to trim them, I would’ve laughed.

Now, with the way Tigger was, there’s no way on Earth we would’ve been able to trim her nails (you could pet her head, neck, & chin, but anywhere else you were going to loose finger). Maybe not Weasley either (he’s a bit of a nut), but I know for a fact that we could have trimmed Nissan’s nails with no problem at all. If only someone had pointed it out to us sooner.

This is why we focus so much on educating our clients on the different options available. Things have come a long way over the years as far as veterinary care & options for your pets goes. If you’re considering declawing your cat, please talk to your veterinarian first. Working together with your veterinarian & their staff, they can help you find what works best for you, your cat, & your furniture.

To learn more about FeliScratch & other alternatives, please visit savethecouches.com.

By: Ashley Elliott

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Visiting the Vet doesn’t have to be Scary!

A-scared-dogWe’ve learned a lot about dogs and cats over the last 20 years including a lot about their behaviors. The truth is dogs are not people and cats are not small dogs. They have different preferences and respond differently to stressful situations.  Unfortunately, visiting the veterinarian is frequently considered a very stressful experience for both pets and their owners.

The good news? You don’t have to sacrifice care by skipping out on regular veterinary visits because of stress. There are plenty of ways for you and your pet to stay relaxed during a veterinary visit. As we work on becoming Fear Free Certified, we want to share some of these tips with you!

Fear Free visits start at home!

dogincardangerSocialization is key! Early, positive experiences can build a foundation of trust and help prevent fear from developing. Puppies should be enrolled in training and socialization classes. Dogs should be comfortable riding in the car, visiting new places and meeting new people. A combination of rewards, slowly acclimatizing your pet to car rides and, sometimes, anti-anxiety medications given prior to the veterinary visit can greatly reduce or eliminate anxiety associated with car rides.

Something most clients don’t think about is that it’s ok to come by, even when your pets don’t actually need any kind of care. In fact, we encourage it! We have several patients who stop by for nothing more than some love and a handful of treats. This allows us to bond with our patients and build trust.

Owners can also desensitize their pets to being examined by handling them frequently at home, rubbing their feet, ears and gums.

Pheromone & Supplement Therapy

Like most animals, dogs and cats use a series of scents and pheromones, or “chemical signals”. These pheromone signals are used to mark territory and convey a large range of feelings including anxiety and contentment. There are several products that mimic some of the “feel good” pheromones that animals give off.

feliway-electric-diffuser-48-ml-3Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the facial pheromone produced when a cat rubs its face on an object to scent mark. Meridian is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the pheromones mother cats produce to reassure kittens. The calming pheromones from both of these products reduce the alarming sense cats can feel during stressful situations and help control those unwanted behaviors that stem from stress including aggression and inappropriate urination.

Adaptil-Diffuser_r7nexxAdaptil for Dogs works in a very similar fashion. Mother dogs communicate with their puppies through natural messages released into the air. These “comforting messages“are called Dog Appeasing Pheromones and they provide a strong signal of security and comfort to dogs of all ages.  Adaptil is available in several different forms: diffusers, collars and spray. In the event that an owner does not have Adaptil at home, we do have bandanas that have been pre-treated with spray in all of our exam rooms. Clients are encouraged to loosely tie one around their dogs’ necks while waiting to be seen.

1431-zylkene-newIn addition to synthetic pheromones, we also carry some supplements that have shown effective relief of stress in both dogs and cats. Zylkene is made with a milk-derived ingredient and it promotes calmness in pets. It often gives pets a calm feeling without causing sedation or drowsiness. Zylkene can be used for specific stress inducing events such as a visit to the vet, boarding, fireworks, thunderstorms and travel. Pets that are fearful may benefit from starting Zylkene one-two days prior to a known stress inducing event. It is also approved for long term, daily use.

Visiting the Clinic

pets-like-vetAll dogs entering the clinic should be on leashes and all cats should arrive in carriers. We try to make sure that all pets are moved into exam rooms quickly but if your pets are especially anxious, ask if you can wait in the car or even outside. In addition, ask our staff for a bandana that has been pre-treated with Adaptil. This can be tied loosely around your dog’s neck and will help him/her to relax some while waiting to be seen.

It is best for your pet to be hungry when he/she comes for his visit to a Fear Free veterinary clinic, since he will have a wide assortment of treats and toys available to reduce anxiety, distract and reward him while waiting, being examined and having treatments done. Pet owners are encouraged to bring their pet’s very favorite treats and toys as well.

In the exam rooms, pets will appreciate a familiar slip-proof surface on the table. Both Feliway and Adaptil are used throughout the clinic in their various forms and are also used in our boarding facility.

Feline Friendly!

adventurecat-yuki-11-of-118-1024x768We get numerous calls every day from pet owners needing to reschedule their cats’ appointments because they are hiding or they can’t get them in their carriers. This is because most cats never see their carrier unless they are going to the vet and they have been conditioned to associate their carrier with scary experiences. Cat owners should find a place in the home where their carrier can be left out. Allow your cats to become familiar with their carrier.  A carrier that opens from the top as well as the front is ideal. Leave the door open so the cat can investigate and leave its scent on the carrier. Put treats and favorite toys in the carrier to encourage exploration. Make sure the bedding is soft, comfortable and stays in place when the cat moves. If the carrier you use is one of his or her favorite safe sleeping spots, your kitty will be much more likely to accept transportation in a vehicle and also will be happier once they reach the hospital.  Clients are encouraged to pick up a Feliway wipe prior to the appointment so that they can wipe their kitty’s carrier at home an hour or so before their appointments.

cat-vetOnce at the clinic, cats are moved quickly into our kitty exclusive exam room. We keep a Feliway Diffuser plugged in at all times to help create a naturally soothing environment for our feline patients and help them feel safer while here. Cats are welcome to explore the exam room and even climb the cat tree. We have plenty of catnip and treats at hand and also keep warm towels on hand for cats to curl up or hide under during their exams.

For kitties that require a little extra stress reduction, we have “Feline Fear Free” kits. These kits include a couple of doses of a tasteless medication that can be sprinkled directly on their food the night before and the morning of their appointments. This medication will help to relax them. In addition, the kits include a Feliway wipe for their carrier.

All cats that drop off for exams or boarding are kept in a separate area, away from dogs, and are given tents or boxes to curl up and hide in.

Sedation is not a last resort

stress dogWe will never struggle with your pet or hold him/her down in an uncomfortable position for any reason. This will only create a cycle of fear and distrust that will become nearly impossible to break. Once a pet is at the clinic, if it is fearful and won’t take a tasty food reward, even if hungry, it’s time to regroup. While a lot of people balk at the idea of sedating their pets, sedation with safe and effective modern drugs is ideal in many situations and is certainly more beneficial to the pets’ mental well being than being wrestled to the table or floor. Some pets may even need sedation for routine examination and that’s ok! Many pets are so psychologically damaged or fearful that they would benefit from sedation before they even leave home. Our doctors can work with you to create a stress reduction plan for your pet that meets their individual needs.

Clients are encouraged to bring their pets by for “happy visits” or desensitization exercises to prepare them for future handling without sedation. Even a very fearful pet can be taught to tolerate procedures with time and effort.

By: Tara Sansing