Thursday, May 09, 2013

What About Declawing?

I have a cat who came declawed and spayed, turned into the animal shelter as a stray. I don't think she was a stray, do you?

Anyway, this poor cat was timid, scared of feet, and hid under the bed for several months when she first came to live with us. I'm talking about Princess. It's hard to get a photo of her because she is still pretty timid.

Princess used to bite all the time. She would bite to kiss, bite to get my attention, and bite to let me know she was disturbed with me. It was a matter of figuring out what she was saying. She "patty-pats" my arm when she wants attention, too.  She jumps up on my lap, but didn't start that till after a surgery in late 2009. I think I posted about that at the time.

Well, I figured out that she was afraid of feet because she used to get kicked a lot. I actually walked into her recently, and she stayed away from me for a whole day. It was unintentional, but she didn't want to be anywhere near me for a while. After she slept with me that night, she was OK with me again. I've been able to walk up to her now and stroke her back, but she still doesn't like being caught on the bed during the day. She will run away from me if I try to pet her.

What changed things was my realizing that her biting was probably why she was turned into the shelter. I figured it had something to do with that, and likely she was owned by a bed-ridden individual, too. I figured that out by her complete acceptance of me when I was in bed, compared to her agitation and fear during the day when I was upright. I was not threatening to her when I was in bed.

Since then, she has come to accept me when I am sitting down, and will come to my chair and jump on my lap. She has even come to accept me when I bring her food to her and allow me to stroke her back as she goes to the food bowl. She still insists on eating away from the others.

She no longer bites me, either. She loves to get under-the-chin scratches, and will let me stroke her.

A delawed cat is more likely to bite. It's a way for them to get your attention and let you know that they are displeased. And all cats bite to kiss. It's just their way. If you are contemplating declawing your cat, you need to know about this.

One other VERY IMPORTANT thing to consider when declawing a cat: The litter box. When you declaw a cat, the top-most joint is removed to remove the claw. This is amputation. There is no other way to say it. So, think about having all your fingers shortened by one knuckle. And a cat uses the litter box, scratching with that exposed joint. Use a rounded, self-clumping litter. Expect that your cat may have difficulty covering their deposits in the litter box. And you MUST keep the litter clean, or your cat may develop an infection in the paw. This can happen any time after the cat is declawed, since scar tissue can break, being less-elastic than normal skin tissue. 


On the flip side, there is Bugs. She never quite learned to keep her claws in, so I'm always getting scratched by her. I try to turn her body so that her feet are pointing away from me, but she is pretty insistent on being nose-to-nose with me. She wants to bury herself in my side and curl up on my lap. And she "makes biscuits" all the while. I get real tired of her claws. She ruins every piece of clothing I put on!

Trimming her claws is quite difficult. She never got into the grooming habit with her claws. She allows brushing and combing, to remove mats, loose hair and fleas; but not claw-clipping. I can get one, maybe two claws at each sitting. The dew claws are the worst, and longest of her claws.She is a candidate for declawing if ever there was one! She ruins carpets and furniture daily.

So, having the experience of both types of cats, and having declawed a cat myself in the past, I know what to look for.

Make your decision carefully. Consider all other options, first. If you MUST declaw your cat, consider my information. Work with your cat to adjust. Don't hit or discipline your cat for biting. Instead, try to figure out what she or he is trying to tell you.

Talk to myself, or Jackson Galaxy, if you have questions.