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.