IS YOUR CAT IN PAIN…FROM PP-UTAH
Here is the pain guidelines we use for the study of declawed shelter cats, and that you can use for your own cat(s):
1. Loss of normal behavior
1. Decreased ambulation or activity
2. Lethargic attitude
3. Decreased appetite
4. Decreased grooming
5. Expression of abnormal behaviors
6. Inappropriate elimination
9. Decreased interaction with other pets or family members
10. Altered facial expression
11. Altered posture
2. Reaction to touch
1. Increased body tension or flinching in response to gentle palpation of declawed paws
2. Increased body tension or flinching in response to gentle palpation of non declawed paws
3. Physiologic parameters
1. Elevations in heart rate
2. Elevations in resp rate
3. Elevations of body temperature
4. Pupil dilation
*based on published AAFP and AAHA feline pain standards We want to touch on the loss of normal behavior this week:
* Pay attention to the level of activity your cat is showing. If they stop playing as much and are sleeping a lot more than normal, that could a sign that they are in pain.
* If you start finding mats in their fur, when they normally don’t get many, that is a big indicator that your cat might need some medical attention.
* Monitor their food and water intake. Decrease in appetite is a red flag that something is going on with your cat.
If your cat is showing any of these signs, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
We sometimes get messages from people who are in need of The Paw Project’s help, but they do not have a branch in their state. They own declawed cats that they would like examined to determine whether or not they need some medical attention from their declaw.
If you find yourself in this situation, here is what you can do:
* Find a no declaw vet; The Paw Project is currently working on a comprehensive list of no declaw vets in each state, but you can call local vets, or reach out on social media to try and find one. You can see the list of the states that have PP branches here. If there isn’t a vet that doesn’t declaw close to your area, you can still go to a vet that you trust.
* Give the vet the checklist Dr Doub uses when she evaluates declawed cats; you can copy and paste it to an email to your vet or print it out:
Age at present and gender and BCS:
Indoor vs outdoor (if known):
Age at declaw:
Type of declaw performed:
Previous health issues:
Temperature: Pulse: RR: Weight:
B. Picture of declawed paw pads zoomed in if not perfect ovals, examine for erythema, abscesses and calluses as well as any other irregular wear.
1. Batting feather toy
2. Landing from a 3 foot high jump
4. Reaction to toes being touched, declawed versus not
5. Reaction to toes being gently squeezed, declawed versus not
6. Reaches out with paw to touch human when caged
7. Observed “making muffins” or trying to extend paws on horizontal surface
8. Reaction to dorsal spine being palpated
9. Overall demeanor around humans
**document normal gait of feline to document presence/absence plantigrade stance
D. Signs of pain-please circle ones observed during study/video/at home:
1. Loss of normal behavior
* Decreased ambulation or activity
* Lethargic attitude
* Decreased appetite
* Decreased grooming
2. Expression of abnormal behaviors
* Inappropriate elimination
* Decreased interaction with other pets or family members
* Altered facial expression
* Altered posture
3. Reaction to touch
* Increased body tension or flinching in response to gentle palpation of declawed paws
* Increased body tension or flinching in response to gentle palpation of non declawed paws
4. Physiologic parameters
* Elevations in heart rate
* Elevations in resp rate
* Elevations of body temperature
* Pupil dilation
E. Radiographs of all 4 feet including lateral and cc views of declawed paws with carpi and tarsi, please label xrays with marker before sending to server. The radiologist will answer these questions for each paw declawed and nondeclawed for each patient provided using nonsedated lateral and dorsopalmar views:
1. Does this patient exhibit radiographic evidence of partial P3 regrowth or improperly removed bony fragments?
* Presence or absence of at least one fragment
* Number of fragments per foot
* Fragment size
2. Does this patient exhibit radiographic evidence of chronic draining tracts or abscess/excessive lucency around P2?
3. Does this patient exhibit radiographic evidence of distal paw pad callouses/soft tissue swelling?
4. Does this patient exhibit radiographic evidence of P2 remodeling?
5. Does this patient exhibit radiographic evidence of subchondral sclerosis on distal P2? If so, please grade severity (mild, moderate, severe)
6. Does this patient exhibit radiographic signs of P1/P2 joint space pathology (osteoarthritis of the interphalangeal joint)?
7. Does this patient exhibit radiographic evidence of new bone formation on P2 including osteophytosis or periosteal proliferation?
8. Does this patient exhibit radiographic evidence of acute angle hyperflexion of P1/P2? If unable to evaluate, please indicate N/A
9. Does this patient exhibit radiographic signs of plantigrade/palmigrade stance or carpal/tarsal pathology? If unable to evaluate, please indicate N/A
Other things to look out for and make note of:
Non radiographic complications include: radial neuropraxia or paralysis secondary to tourniquet use, infection, wound dehiscence, protrusion of the second phalanx, tissue necrosis from improper bandaging, and palmigrade stance. The source of a declaw related lameness is a detailed orthopedic and neurologic examination assessing the presence of infected wounds with or without protruding bone, pain on palpation of specific portions of the manus, and neurologic deficits. Claw regrowth may be managed by careful excision. Chronic draining tracts may be explored and necrotic bone or embedded cyanoacrylate tissue glue may be excised. Neuropraxia is often, but not always, reversible.
F. Class IV therapeutic Laser-on contact small ball, contact Dr. Doub for settings.
If the vet is not familiar with what treatment to follow, Dr Doub can look at the findings and determine the proper medical plan for the cat.