Grateful for support after death of Virginia Guyette

*Grateful for support after death of Virginia Guyette *Editorial on cat declawing missed the mark

Grateful for support after death of Virginia Guyette

The family of the late Virginia Helen Cegelski Guyette wish to express their deep appreciation and thanks to so many. Our hearts are warmed by the neighborly friendship and kindness of caregivers, health care professionals, friends, neighbors and all who have helped us during this difficult time.

First and foremost, thank you to our extended family at Brookdale Niskayuna and to “our girls” and others of HomeInstead for your devoted care, companionship and joy that you brought to her every day.

To “Our Brian Z.,” whose dance music and song always brightened the day, most recently acknowledging our parents’ 74 married years together with mother’s favorite song, Irving Berlin’s, “Always.”

To those who have been with us on her journey’s end: Ellis Medicine Emergent Care, Clifton Park; Clifton Park and Halfmoon EMS; Ellis Medicine Hospital, A4 and C1 staff; Bond Funeral Home; Dom Gallo Florist, to Arlene for your appreciation of mom’s love of the color lavender; St. John the Evangelist Church, to Fr. Carlino and Danielle, church secretary; Viewland Cemetery Cobblestone Church, John, Dave, Marge and Jan; Scotti’s Restaurant & Pizzeria, owner chef Guy for food, delivery and placing his trust in someone during a time of need; City Mission of Schenectady, our charity of choice for donations in Virginia’s name. Thank you for accepting food following the funeral luncheon. Glad you could bring it to your family table in mom’s honor.

We give gratitude to all who sent cards, Mass cards, floral arrangements, personal notes, calls, emails and Facebook posts.

This “classy lady” embraced living her life to brighten and empower the lives of others in and around the city of Schenectady.

Robert A. Guyette

Fairfax, Conn.

Editorial on cat declawing missed the mark

Clearly the author of the May 19 editorial [“Better uses of time than cat declawing bill”] on the declaw ban bill has very little understanding about declawing, or the significance of the proposed declaw ban in relation to the other animal welfare laws that New York already has on the books. It’s high time people understand the facts.

Declawing is not merely removing the claws. It is, in fact, an amputation of the third phalanx bone of each toe, as feline claws grow from the bone, not from the skin like human nails do.

Cats are digitigrade animals which means they walk on their toes. Declawing changes the way they stand, balance, and walk, and it puts their posture out of proper alignment. They also cannot stretch their legs, backs, and shoulders, which is what they are doing when they set their claws into a surface and pull backwards.

Older cats will often develop arthritis in those areas as a result. If any part of the third phalanx is left behind, the cat is susceptible to developing bone spurs, and the claws will often try to grow out of the fragments left behind, inside the paw. This becomes a problem when their feet hurt too much to stand and scratch in their litter box to bury their waste, so declawed cats often develop litter box aversion and choose to eliminate on softer surfaces that don’t hurt their feet.

“To protect the furniture” is the most common excuse for performing a declaw. What people don’t realize is that cat urine is very hard to completely clean out of carpets, bedding and upholstery, so they have not, in fact, protected anything, but have created an even worse situation.

For anyone to argue that their cat “isn’t showing signs of pain,” keep in mind that cats may be predators, but they are also prey, and it is in their nature to mask pain until they cannot bear it any longer. Just because a cat isn’t showing pain does not mean they aren’t feeling any; also, a cat may not be feeling pain as a kitten or young cat, but in a senior cat it is often the reverse.

It should be noted that several health organizations have issued statements against declawing. The Center for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health and the U.S. Public Health Service all oppose declawing. Cats that are declawed have lost their first line of defense, and will often become habitual biters to compensate for that.

It is an established fact that cat bites are a lot worse than cat scratches, so people with compromised immune systems are more at risk of health issues from being bitten than if they were scratched. I know of people who have ended up in the hospital on IV drips with blood poisoning from cat bites, and several lost full appendage mobility from cat bites on their hands.

Biting, along with inappropriate elimination, is a more common cause of surrender to shelters than the scratching behavior itself, which can be re-directed with patient training, as well as learning about feline behavior and body language, both of felines in general, and of one’s own cat in specific to avoid being scratched.

A clawed cat will start saying “back off” with the lashing tail, then swatting with sheathed claws, then swatting with claws out and then biting. Having a cat is no different than any other animal, and if a person can’t handle the responsibility to learn about and provide proper, appropriate care and learn how to handle any behavioral issues without using extreme physical measures like declawing, then they should not get a cat. Or any other animal for that matter.

When I adopted my cat two years ago, I went to the shelter asking for a friendly, easy-going cat, and that is what I went home with, and she hasn’t been a moment’s trouble.

Also important to keep in mind is that declawing is a breach of professional ethics on the part of any vet that performs it. They all take an oath to relieve animal suffering and protect animal health. Yet several professional organizations are choosing to oppose the ban of a procedure that, except for rare cases of overlapping toes in polydactl cats, has no medical benefit for the cat at all.

The fact of the matter is that vets are not experts in animal behaviorism or how to modify or re-direct problem behaviors. It is also a fact that they do make a lot of money declawing, because they do not fully explain that declawing is amputation of part of the cats’ paws, and they often bundle it with spay or neuter as a “kitten package.” Cats are being declawed before there is even evidence that they will develop improper scratching, which can be re-directed onto a scratching post or scratch mat.

My own cat is 6 years old as of June 3, and she has never exhibited problematic scratching, and she is a fully clawed cat.

I should point out that the head of the NYSVMS, Susan Wylegala, DVM, stated in their January/February newsletter that their “major legislative goals for 2016 include blocking the movement of any bills aimed at prohibiting the declawing of cats and the devocalization of dogs.” Devocalization is the surgical removal of the vocal cords from dogs whose owners can’t be bothered to re-train and re-direct their dogs’ behavior to prevent them from being a nuisance through incessant barking. Does that sound like a vet a conscientious person would trust to have their pets’ best interests at heart? I think not.

People would do well to do their own research, using sources that don’t seek to benefit financially from the choice to declaw. is one excellent source, as is the “Paw Project” documentary available on YouTube. Thankfully, the viewpoint that declawing has any benefit for the cat on which it is inflicted is fast becoming obsolete.

The practice is already banned in over 20 countries, with some of those countries already outranking the United States in standard of living and quality of life for their human population. It is high time it becomes banned here as well.

Karin Alberga


Categories: Letters to the Editor

Leave a Reply