X-Rays Tell the Story !! What Really Happens to a Declawed Cat!!
Shelters all over the country are seeing more older owner surrender declawed cats coming their way. Some of these cats have behavior problems and/or litter box issues which are likely reasons for their surrender in the first place.
I volunteer at KC Pet Project, one of the largest no-kill open admissions shelters in the country. It’s located in Kansas City, MO. They looked for reasons behind that behavior and found that many of these cats had bone fragments in their paws as leftovers from declaw procedures that were causing t hem extensive pain. Can you imagine walking every step on shards of glass? That’s what these cats were feeling. KCPP now routinely X-rays the paws of all declawed cats. If the damage is severe, they do reconstructive surgery on the paws of the cat.
Bone fragments are often left as the result of a declaw procedure making it difficult and painful for the cat to walk, use the litter box, and just be a cat! At KCPP, there is a small bulletin board display that contains an X-ray of a declawed cat and some informational material. Counselors helping adopters select a cat, can lead them by the display and discuss why they shouldn’t declaw their cat. The X-ray is the focal point for an educational discussion that isn’t judgemental. In a previous post Rick Andrius requested that X-ray so here it is and I’ll try to explain it.
X-rays look beyond the fluffy paw of a cat to reveal the devastating damage this is underneath in the paws of some declawed cats.
IMAGE 1: This is the X-ray that is on display. It shows the paws of Precious, a KCPP cat. Those little triangular pieces at the ends of the toes are P3 remnants. P3 is the bone the claw grows out of that is cut out when declawing. These are the bone fragments that are causing such pain for the declawed cat.
IMAGE 2: shows (on the right) a normal paw with claws, and (on the left) a declaw with no P3 remnants.
WHY IS DECLAWING LEGAL? Good question and many have asked. It’s illegal in these countries: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia, Malta, and Israel.
WHAT ABOUT THE US? Declawing is now prohibited in eight California cities: West Hollywood, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Burbank, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Beverly Hills and Culver City. There are bills proposed in 4 states trying to ban declawing: New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Spread the word that shelters receiving declawed cats should X-ray their paws. If reconstruction surgery is needed, work to help raise funds for the procedure. It’s an investment in the life of the cat!! Work with a compassionate local veterinarian who will perhaps donate one such surgery per month.
IMAGES 3 & 4: Things to look for in your declawed cat. Meet Candy Corn, another KCPP cat. Her paws had become bent and sort of deformed due to being declawed. Also, when she sat, she’d often held one paw up.
IMAGE 5: Meet Beauford. This story has a happy ending but wow!! It breaks my heart! Beauford was a declawed cat resident at a local animal shelter and I believe he was owner surrendered. He bit people!! After being on multiple bite holds for 10 days each, he was going to be put down for his bad behavior. A wonderful good samaritan stepped in and took him to HELP Humane Society – A True No Kill Animal Shelter, in Belton, MO. They immediately accessed the situation and thought that bone fragments could be in his paws causing great pain and hence his biting behavior. He soon went to the vet for X-rays which confirmed the need for reconstruction surgery. He received the procedure and it was life changing for Beauford. He no longer bit people!! He purred his heart out!! After a period of recovery, he was adopted by a loving family.
IMAGE 6: This is the little bulletin board in the KC Pet Project cat adoption area. It contains the X-rays and other information about cat declawing. It provides adopters with a focal point that counselors can use to discuss declawing in an educational and non-judgmental way.
MESSAGE TO SHELTERS EVERYWHERE: Please X-ray the paws of your declawed cats especially those who are having behavior or litter box issues. Get them the life saving reconstruction surgery if needed.
SPECIAL THANKS to Sally McCampbell for the X-rays and research information for this post.