GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- The Green Bay and Allouez Animal Hospital takes a stand against declawing cats by no longer offering the once widely-accepted procedure.
Veterinarian Becky Krull glues soft covers on a cat's claws at Green Bay and Allouez Animal Hospital as an option to declawing (WBAY photo)
Dr. Becky Krull calls the process of amputating the tops of a cat's fingers "barbaric." It involves using a scalpel to dissect the joint and sever the nerves, ligaments and blood vessels.
"If we're going to make a difference in our profession, somebody has to be the leader," she said. "Somebody has to speak up and say they're not going to do it, and we've decided to be one of those people."
The long-term side effects make the surgery one of the top reasons cats are surrendered to shelters.
"It's painful for them to use to scratch in their litter box, so they will not use their litter box," said Vicki Prey, executive director for the Fox Valley Humane Association.
A room full of curious kittens at the Fox Valley Humane Association explores their surroundings and leaves their scents through scratching.
"It's the time to start introducing scratching posts and scratching items," Krull said, "and every cat might like a different substrate. Some cats like carpet. Some cats like paper and cardboard. You just have to find that right substrate for the cat."
Krull says finding the right material early on helps keep more expensive belongings scratch-free. It is when cats target those big ticket items they are not supposed to that some owners consider declawing them.
"I don't care if it's a moneymaker, because honestly it's one of the most expensive procedures we provide. So, on a business level, it would make a lot of sense to push that and say, 'Let's do it. I'm making money,' but that's not what drives my mission," said Krull.
Prey says staff take questions every day about declawing, and while that will not stop them from finding a cat its forever home, they do not perform or recommend the procedure.
"We do give them some advice and training on how to trim the nails," she said.
"There's a product called Soft Paws," Dr. Krull noted. "It's a great little plastic rubbery application that we use tissue glue that we put over the claw, and what that does is as they're clawing things, it just protects them."
While these more humane alternatives can be options for many cat owners, some are forced to choose between declawing their pet or having a place to live.
"They're simply looking for those cats that are declawed because it's a requirement of the homes they are renting or apartment that they're renting," said Prey.
"If landlords are dictating our medicine, shame on us. So, that is where we also have to come out and take a strong stance and say, 'Is your couch more important than my animal's well-being?'" asked Krull.
The Green Bay and Allouez Animal Hospital co-owner says it is a matter of knowing better and choosing to do better.