Mia & Kenya Bear Relinquished-Painful Paws-Excessive Fur Loss-Dr. Moran/Paw Project Director Operates

This is Mia and Kenya Bear and they are a bonded pair. They were relinquished to our friends at the Hamilton County Humane Society (HCHS) in Noblesville and BOTH excessively grooming and pulling out their hair on their bellies and back legs.
These two sweet girls were taken to see Dr. Nicole Martell-Moran at the Cat Care Clinic of Indianapolis for evaluation and both showed significant signs of pain along with bone fragments left behind when they were declawed.
They both received surgery to remove bone fragments, inflammatory tissue and replace the paw pads to better cover the toe bone remaining.
These silly girls are so affectionate and loving that it was difficult to get a still photo of them!! đź’– Wish them luck in their recovery and please share their story.

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Paw Project Utah Removes Claw Growth And Bone Pieces From Lilly’s Painful Paws

Another responsible pet owner becomes a hero for their kitty! Meet Lilly, who is owned by Judy. Lilly spent the majority of her life in a tiny cage, adopted out and returned a few times for inappropriate urination. Finally she met Judy and Judy did not give up on Lilly! Lilly can be a grumpy cat who is at times too fractious to groom and will sometimes refuse to eat for days on end when stressed. Lilly had big P3 fragments left over from a botched declaw and a nail growing through her paw pad. She also has callouses on her BACK hocks from an altered stance due to arthritis from the effects of the declaw on her overall posture. This week, Lilly had paw surgery with The Paw Project-Utah. Already 2 days post op and we have a happier kitty, a hungry kitty, and a kitty using her litter box with special litter!!!
November 2016

Cat Walking On Bone Chunks For Years-Finally Receives More Surgery


What are the potential complications of declawing?
Felines—whether house cats or big cats—can suffer pain, post-operative complications, serious health problems, psychological trauma that manifests itself in negative behavioral changes, and even death because of being declawed. More details about the complications associated with declawing include the following:
Litter box problems.
Many declawed cats won’t use their litter boxes anymore. After the declaw surgery, the cat’s paws are very raw and when the cat goes to use the box, digging in the sand causes the cat a lot of pain. They begin to associate the box with that pain and may never use it again. Many cat experts know this and it has been confirmed in the veterinary literature. It is not uncommon for declawed cat owners to trade scratched furniture for urine-soaked carpeting. In one survey, 95% of calls about declawed cats related to litter box problems, while only 46% of clawed cats had such problems-and most of those were older cats, many with physical ailments that accounted for the behavior.
Deprived of claws, which is their primary defense, a cat may turn to its only other line of defense—its teeth. Some experts believe that cats that are declawed are likely to become biters. Many veterinarians will recommend declawing to protect human beings from being scratched. This goes against what human health organizations recommend. Declawing the cat can give people a false sense of security because declawed cats bite more often after being declawed.
James Gaynor, DVM, an expert in pain management at Colorado State University Veterinary Medical School, has written about chronic pain syndrome in cats that have been declawed. The article describes severe pain in cats that can last a lifetime.
Veterinary textbooks list the pain from declawing as “severe.”
Declawing is considered one of the most painful, routinely-performed surgeries in all of veterinary medicine and yet 30% or more of veterinarians don’t provide any pain medication whatsoever to their declaw patients. Another study showed that declawed cats were still in pain from the surgery at the end of the study, which was 12 days after the operation!
Declawing is so predictably painful that it is used in clinical trials by pharmaceutical companies to test new pain medications.
Determining pain in cats is much more difficult than determining pain in dogs. Cats are very often stoical and people will interpret a cat curled up in a ball and sleeping as normal, when in reality, the cat is in a lot of pain. Dogs are more demonstrative of their pain.
While the immediate post-surgical pain that the cats suffer is obviously severe, it is impossible to know how much chronic pain and suffering declawing causes. Declawing is ten (front toes only) or eighteen (there are only 8 toes on the back feet) separate amputations, so it is not unreasonable to believe that declawed cats experience phantom pain in one or more toes. (Many human amputees report life-long, painful “phantom” sensations from the amputated part.) Cats typically conceal pain or illness until it becomes unbearable. With chronic pain, it may be that they simply learn to live with it. Their behavior may appear normal, but a lack of overt signs of pain does not mean they are pain-free.
Post-surgical complications.
Lameness, abscesses, and paw pad atrophy can occur after surgery. In some cases where the veterinarian left part of the bone in the toe, the claw can begin to grow again. However, the claw grows abnormally under the skin and might eventually bust through the skin on top of the paw. In one report that studied cats for only five months after surgery, about 25% of cats developed complications from both declaw and tenectomy surgeries (digital tenectomy or tendonectomy is a procedure, sometimes promoted as an “alternative” to declawing, where the tendons that extend the toes are cut). Click here to see the section on Tendonectomy »
Joint Stiffness.
In declawed (and tendonectomizedized) cats, the tendons that control the toe joints retract after the surgery because they are no longer anchored to the bones, and over time these joints become essentially “frozen.” The toes can no longer be extended, but remain fully contracted for the lifetime of the cat. The toes become like hammer toes. Cats may continue to “scratch” after they are declawed, this is probably explained by the cat’s desperate desire to stretch those stiff, contracted joints and not evidence that the cat does not miss its claws.
Veterinarians, in clinical settings, have found that in the immediate post-operative period, newly declawed cats shift their body weight backward onto the large central pad (the three-lobed pad on the palm) of the front feet and off the toes. This effect was significant even when strong pain medication was given, and remained apparent for the duration of the study (up to 40 hours after surgery). This altered gait may persist over time, and can cause stress on the leg joints and spine, and could lead to damage and arthritic changes in multiple joints. X ray images of declawed cats confirm this theory.
Death due behavior problems, anesthetic complications or defenselessness.
Declawing that results in biting or litter box avoidance may result in the cat being dumped at a shelter or simply abandoned. If taken to shelters, such behaviors make them unadoptable, and they will be destroyed. Many cats are exiled to a life outdoors because of these unwanted behaviors, even though declawed cats should not be allowed outside—their ability to defend themselves, and to escape danger by climbing, is seriously impaired. They also risk injury or death by dogs, cars, coyotes, poison, and other hazards of outdoor life. There is always a small but real risk of death from any general anesthesia, as well as from hemorrhage or other surgical complications. Many veterinarians will say that they would rather declaw the cat than have it die—it seems that they don’t realize that declawing is often the cause of the cat’s death. Declawing is unnecessary when there are so many humane alternatives.


Unwanted Because Of Not Using The Litter Box-Sophia Has Shut Down



Do declawed cats find homes more easily because they won’t damage furniture? Do people abandon or euthanize their cats, if veterinarians do not perform a declawing procedure?
Actually, declawed cats seem to lose their homes BECAUSE they were declawed! There is evidence that declawed cats are disproportionately abandoned to shelters, and that declawed cats may be euthanized more often because of the behavioral and physical problems that the cat begins to exhibit because the cat was declawed.
Pet owners typically cite protection of their furnishings as being foremost among their reasons for having a cat declawed; however, such owners may not realize that the pain and other complications from the surgery can cause behavioral problems that are even worse than the problems for which the cat’s toes were originally amputated:
A cat can still bite a child and may have to resort to doing so since the cat has been robbed of its primary defense: its claws.
A cat whose paws hurt when digging in a litter box may avoid the litter box altogether. If someone is intolerant of a cat scratching furniture, that person is most certainly going to be intolerant of a cat biting or not using the litter box!
In a 1996 JAVMA article, Gary Patronek, VMD, PhD, using multivariate statistical analysis, found that declawed cats were at an increased risk of relinquishment to animal shelters and that among relinquished cats, 52.4% of declawed cats were reported to exhibit litter box avoidance, compared to 29.1% of non-declawed cats.
The risk of cats being relinquished to pounds if the owner cannot declaw the animal is grossly overestimated by the veterinary profession. In a survey of owners of cats that had been declawed and their veterinarians, reported by Dr. Gary Landsberg in Veterinary Forum (September 1994), only 4% of the owners said they would have relinquished their pet had it not been declawed. In contrast, the veterinarians in the survey speculated that 50% of the owners would have relinquished their pets.
We could reasonably expect that if cat owners knew the risks and alternatives to declawing and if veterinarians took a more active role in offering and assisting with the alternatives (such as nail caps and nail trimming), the 4% figure would be further reduced. As veterinarian Nicholas Dodman, board-certified animal behaviorist and Professor at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, has said, “There are very few people of this ilk (who would euthanize a cat if it could not be declawed) who could not be reeducated by an enthusiastic and well-informed veterinarian as to the inhumanity of this approach.”
Janet Scarlett, DVM, of Cornell University, in the article, “The Role of Veterinary Practitioners in Reducing Dog and Cat Relinquishments and Euthanasias,” JAVMA (February 1, 2002), states that client counseling is “probably the most effective means by which veterinarians can influence the number of dogs and cats surrendered to animal shelters today.” Veterinarians have an opportunity to intervene because people relinquishing pets are veterinary clients.

An estimated 50–70% of pets in shelters had visited the veterinarian in the year preceding relinquishment. Yet, Dr. Scarlett reports, “Only 25% of veterinarians routinely actively identify and treat behavioral problems.” She writes, “Less than a third felt confident of their ability to treat common behavioral problems. Perhaps even more disturbing, only 11.1% of veterinarians felt it was the veterinarian’s responsibility, rather than the client’s, to initiate discussion about behavioral problems.” Dr. Scarlett admonishes veterinarians to ask specifically about problem behaviors to uncover problems that clients are reluctant to mention or that they may not realize can be modified. Once identified, appropriate interventions can be recommended.

It seems clear that the real solution to the euthanasia concern will be convincing veterinarians to offer proper education. Treating a behavioral problem such as scratching with a surgical procedure went out of fashion with lobotomy. Declawing can cause worse behavior problems like not using the litter box and biting. These new behaviors can easily lead to abandonment and death.


Declawing And The Diabetes Connection-Declawed Cats With Diabetes

From Dr.Gaskin-“Even more compelling, Dr. Gaskin noted that many declawed cats develop hyperflexion, or clubfootedness. A callus on the hyperflexed digit paw pad is common and is an abnormal condition. He said that walking on the amputated toe tips is very painful, and this chronic pain worsens over time. The pain is so intense that there’s a relationship between cortisone levels heightened daily due to pain and increased diabetes in these cats, not to mention that they might urinate outside the box, and being in pain may cause changes in personalities, so many are likely to bite or hide. With a change of gait, arthritis may more likely occur as well.”

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The Diabetes Connection

When we printed the list of declawed cats to inspect, one thing immediately caught our eye: nearly every diabetic cat Animal Ark currently houses was on the list, with only one exception. To be clear: the general population of declawed cats is always around 25% of the total population. The fact that the percentage of diabetic cats that were declawed was near 100% was startling, to say the least. I decided to review the diabetic cats Animal Ark has seen over the last couple of years. More than 50% of them were declawed.

I began asking veterinarians about the possible connection to declawing and diabetes. One topic kept coming up: Cortisol. Cortisol is a chemical produced by the body to manage chronic pain. It also dramatically affects blood glucose levels. Ironically, elevated cortisol is also a risk factor for diabetes.

The linkage may be even more compelling than that, because cats with pain in their paws are more likely to be sedate, get less exercise and are, therefore, more prone to being overweight, another contributing factor for diabetes. Take Miracle, for example, a very overweight, diabetic declawed cat.

When she came to Animal Ark, we had assumed the fact that she limped so badly was a result of her severe weight problem. However, as she has been trimming down, her limping is getting worse. After watching the Paw Project and examining her paws, it seems clear she is suffering from several of the long-term complications from the declaw procedure.

Animal Ark’s relatively limited data set may not be enough to prove a link between declawing and diabetes. However, if a link were to be demonstrated it would go a long way toward clinically proving that declawed felines, even those with no obvious complications from the procedure, are suffering from long-term, chronic pain. To help compile a more complete data set, I am asking shelters and rescue organizations to review records of their diabetic cats to determine how many of them had been declawed. I have also created a simple form they can fill out to submit their findings. You can help with this effort by sharing this article and asking the shelters and rescue groups you support to submit their information.



Paw Project Performs Post-Declaw Surgery On Four Paw Declawed Moana-Bone Fragments & Tendon Contracture

This is the super sweet and cuddly Moana. She is 1 and 1/2 years old and declawed on all four feet. She was recently relinquished to the Hamilton County Humane Society. She was part of a group of kitties brought to see Dr. Nicole Martell-Moran at the Cat Care Clinic of Indianapolis to be evaluated for pain.

She already suffers from back pain and the Xrays showed bone fragments in one of her back feet. The ligaments in her wrist joints are already affected causing a “palmigrade” stance (walking on her wrist joints) and she has tendon contracture in one of her front feet.

Thanks to the Paw Project she received paw surgery and a long-term pain management protocol. Hopefully both will allow this sweet girl to find a forever home!

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