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It's Raining Cats & Dogs

Fur flies over whether to declaw cats

A veterinarian is trying to get the practice of declawing banned nationwide. (AP Photo)

How far do you go to protect your couch from your frisky feline?

While it's common practice in the U.S. to declaw cats, one veterinarian is trying to get the practice banned nationwide.

"I found that all declaws are bad and it doesn't matter who the surgeon is," Dr. Jennifer Conrad told It's Raining Cats and Dogs. "You're actually amputating the last bone in a cat's toe."

Conrad said she first started noticing the effects of declawing cats while working with big kitties. One of her clients is the tiger from "The Hangover."

Since then, she has worked on a film, "The Paw Project," that has documented her efforts to get declawing banned in California.

Conrad explained that they were able to get it banned in West Hollywood, but in 2003 the California Veterinarian Medical Association, the trade association for veterinarians, filed a lawsuit to "make sure they could maintain their bottom line."

"I think veterinarians need to stand up and say 'Hey, we're not doing this anymore,'" said Conrad, who added that cat lovers will actually seek out humane doctors who don't declaw.

And while cat owners think they're saving their furniture, Conrad said declawed cats are much more likely to bite humans and skip the litter box. "I think it's a big price to pay."

"Cats are the number one pet in the United States and people love their cats," said Conrad. "If people really knew what declawing really was, I don't think they'd do it."

But veterinarian Lora Schuldt disagrees and worries Conrad is saying inflammatory things that aren't helping the discussion.

Schuldt said she thinks most people are already set on doing it, so she educates them about the procedure and why it's not recommended.

Schuldt said most cat owners are at the end of their rope by the time she sees them.

"Owners that come to me to talk about the procedure are already fully aware that this is an incision through the joint and removal of the last bone of the toe on all of the front toes," she said.

Schuldt recommended eliminating the stressers that cause a cat to scratch in the first place and also offering a lot of appropriate places for a cat to scratch.

Both veterinarians did agree that there are good alternatives, like claw covers.

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