Okay, so I’ve never had a declawed cat. Even before I knew what it was, I would never had done it. But recently, something happened that almost broke my heart.
My vet has cats at his office. One, who is a couple of years old, was declawed because he ruined a woman’s hose and the vet was worried about liability problems. So, he amputated Pew’s claws.
Last month, I found out that Pew was in a lot of trouble. See, he bit an elderly man. And this elderly man ended up in the hospital. Cat bites are much more dangerous than cat scratches. So, Pew was in a cage at the vet’s office, not allowed to run around as he had been.
The vet asked me if I wanted him. I said yes. But, my husband was with me and said “no, it wouldn’t be fair to our cats at home”. And he was right. It wouldn’t have been.
I did find out, though, that Pew has a few problems which will make him difficult to rehome. All which could be directly attributed to the declawing surgery. He bites. He doesn’t use the litterbox. And he has bad knees.
My vet is a good vet. But he’s not an animal behaviorist. He’s had four cats since I’ve been going to him and all have been declawed. The first one, Zipper, was a biter and needed to find a new home. The middle two took the surgery without any problems that I had ever heard of. And then there’s little Pew. So, we have two out of four declawed cats with problems with most likely stemmed from the surgery. Not a very good batting average, if you ask me.
I found Pew a new home, but the vet didn’t want to let him go. It’s understandable, Pew is a good cat. One of the things about declawing, is even if the surgery goes well, you don’t know how the cat will take it. If the cat will have litterbox problems or start biting or have physical problems because if it.
Please, for the sake of your cat, don’t declaw.
Why I Won’t Declaw
My story is not about my cat. I was at an animal adoption agency wanting to adopt a cat when I noticed an adult cat with only three legs. When i asked the handler that worked there what had happened, she said it was due to a botched declawing procedure. The cat apparently had been in so much pain after the operation, that it began to chew at its own leg. The cat had chewed so much of his leg off, and there was no other choice but to amputate. The cat that I adopted does have a scratching problem, but after reading the previous stories, I will not have this done to my cat. If you are serious about owning a cat then take the time to research about the subject. It is precisely that effort that has changed my mind.
Ramona & Baxter The Cat–2-18-00
Arthur is a beautiful fluffy orange cat with the sweetest of temperaments. When I found him, I was living at home and was told by my mom that he would need to be declawed to stay. Had she known the mutilation that would occur and continue to occur, she would have never made the request (nor would I have followed it).
The low-cost surgery was performed by a retired vet who was recommended by the Animal Welfare League.
After about two years, I noticed strange, convoluted forms growing through Arthur’s little pads (what was left of them, anyway). I took him in to our regular vet who told us the forms were his nails growing back. Apparently, the first vet did not remove all the “bits” and the cells were regrowing. Our vet performed the second painful surgery, hopeful that it would be the last.
Arthur is now five and a few more of his pads have the deformed growths. The vet did not think a third surgery was wise, as there is not enough of the little pads left to be cut into.
So, Arthur walks around on grotesquely curled, mangled claws which protrude from his mutilated pads. He is so sweet that he never complains.
I know he is in constant pain, because he sits with one or the other paw held up. He walks on his “wrists” and rarely runs.
I try to help when I can, by kissing his little feet and helping him down from the bed or couch or perch.
I would do anything to reverse the mutilation I caused. I am heartbroken every day.
Please please please don’t declaw.
February 29, 2000
Nothing would ever convince me to declaw a cat. Not even our couch, which I tell people is upolstered in Shredded Wheat. (What WAS I thinking when I got corduroy?) I just wish people who are thinking of declawing could see the cat coming up from the anaesthesia.
A vet I used 10 or so years ago let me back into the hospital to see one of my cats after surgery and that’s when I saw a declawed cat. He kept pulling the bandages off and licking the clotting gel off his paws and they kept bleeding. There was blood all over the cage and on the cat, who looked miserable. He couldn’t stand up and moved around the cage on his elbows.
They finally had to cauterize the wounds and put an e-collar on him. Vets here usually keep declaws for 2 days after surgery, sometimes longer. They have to be sure they’re healed enough so they won’t bleed after the cat is home.
I hate e-collars. I tell them not to use them and if they do, I take them off the cat and hand them to the receptionist when I pick the cat up. We keep post-surgical cats on the couch with us when they get home, which is usually when they’re “up” enough from the anaesthesia. I can care for them post-op and they’re much calmer with human contact at home and aren’t disoriented and scared like they’d be in the vet’s cage.
However, e-collars do have a purpose. They help to keep bugs off the plants we put outside in the summer.
Best, Eileen NO DATE
My story is not about my cat. I was at an animal adoption agency wanting to adopt a cat when I noticed an adult cat with only three legs. When I asked the handler that worked there what had happened, she said it was due to a botched declawing procedure. The cat apparently had been in so much pain after the operation, that it began to chew at its own leg. The cat had chewed so much of his leg off, and there was no other choice but to amputate. The cat that I adopted does have a scratching problem, but after reading the previous stories, I will not have this done to my cat. If you are serious about owning a cat then take the time to research about the subject. It is precisely that effort that has changed my mind.
Ramona & Baxter The Cat
February 18, 2000
I had gotten Razzerz as a kitten back in 1986 and he was such a healthy spunky little kitten. One bad habit he had was scratching the furniture though. Back then I didn’t have a computer and I’m not sure if all the information available now on the net was even there. All I had was was a standard cat care book to base my decision of declawing on. It seemed the thing to do, but I really wasn’t convinced. So, I observed some declawed cats of a couple of friends. They acted just fine. I made the decision to have it done. That was such a big mistake and nearly cost my Razzerz his life.
The vet was all too willing to declaw along with his neutering. He did tell me what I would have to do after I bring him home, but offered no alternatives or explanations as to what it all really entailed.
I chose the bathroom as his recuperation room and cleaned it to the hilt. I then laid freshly washed sheets down on the floor to prevent any chance of infections. I picked him up at 5:00 in the afternoon and took him right home. I spent some time with him in the bathroom and made sure he was comfortable. At 7:00 that evening I went in to check on him and for some reason, call it telepathy, I just knew something was wrong. He was just laying there, looking rather comfortable, but something just didn’t seem right. My vet was closed so I was able to get another vet in my area to agree to stay open until I got there.
This vet wasn’t too happy when he saw how well Razzerz looked, but stuck with my story that something was wrong. He ate his words when the thermometer read 105. He told me that his paws were probably infected and that given the time frame that I had him, he must have had it at the original vets and was sent home that way. I didn’t have him home long enough for him to run up that kind of fever. He advised me to take him back to the vet that did the declawing, who would assuredly provide care for free.
The vet did just that. As it turns out, the tissue on his paw pads was dying. I don’t recall the name for it, but he had to have portions of his pads removed to prevent this condition from spreading. My cat was finally cured, after a month of treatment. I had him looked at by yet another vet who agreed that he was over this condition. He also said that the cause was probably due to the failure of the vet to use sterile equipment. I
I did try to press charges, but at the time, cats in my state were considered vermin. But in my attempt I did learn that not only was this vet a “farm vet”, but he hated cats as well.
Razzerz remained as sweet as ever and even continued scratching as though nothing ever happened. The only reminder of the horrible thing I had done was that occasionally he would put his paw down the wrong way and get a shooting pain.
If I had all the information available to me now on the net and in books I never would have had it done. And I certainly never will have it done or condone it. There are plenty of alternatives. I hope anyone reading this will look at the picture of his paws and think twice about what they are doing.
Pistachio does not belong to me, but rather, a young woman who adopted him from the vet I work for. I am very, very much against the procedure and always try to let people know that declawing is unnecessary, at best. I am not allowed to say much else. I have heard many stories about declawed cats having an aversion to correctly using litterboxes. The reason is this: declawed cats feel uncomfortable and often painful when digging through litter. Their little maimed toes just don’t feel right. So they go outside of the box, in and on places that don’t require painful digging.
While I pretty much believed that this was true, I never witnessed the phenomena firsthand. Until Pistachio. When Pistachio was adopted from us, my colleague was discussing the appropriate time to neuter. Ms. Jones said, “I am going to declaw.” So my colleague went on, because most people do and most people who adopt from us do too. This is one of the main reasons I hate doing adoptions. So a few months later, I saw that Ms. Jones had made an appointment for a 4 PAW DECLAW, which is so much more disgusting than just a front paw. It seems to show such a complete lack of compassion and consideration for the cat, as the owner wants not ever to feel even one claw on their cat….all must go, no matter what the cat goes through.
When I called to confirm the appointment, I left a sort of different message…I said, “And if you would like to make a change of the 4 PAW DECLAW, please give us a call at…”
When she came in, I played dumb, and asked if it was just a front paw. (You take what you can get.) She said no, a 4 paw. I couldn’t help it…I cringed. At that point, she did what no one else has ever done. She “told me off” about the fact that it was a “personal decision” and that if I had a problem with it, I should keep it to myself.
Pistachio needed extra painkiller after surgery. He went home.
Very shortly after that, (maybe a couple of weeks to a month) Ms. Jones brought Pistachio in for urinalysis. You see, Pistachio has been urinating just about everywhere except the litter box. He’s done it on the couch, on rugs, everywhere. Of course, there is nothing physically wrong with him. His urinalysis is fine. The doctor advises Ms. Jones of things to do to change the behavior. A week later, nothing has worked. So the doctor prescribes Amiltryptyline, which is a drug that is used to treat anxiety. She labels the problem “anxiety” and there is no mention of possible causes. But to me, the cause is clear. Ms. Jones is at her wits-end and totally dismayed by the problem because the drug has not really helped. What’s next, euthanasia? For I have seen more than one person who has made the decision to euthanize their innappropriately-urinating cat because they refuse to live with a cat who urinates everywhere. This poor cat has been through so much at the hands of an owner who made “a personal decision” that actually did not concern her own person in the least. .
This happened not long ago at the hospital I work at. We very rarely do declaws. Maybe four a year. Most people we can talk out of doing it. Frankly, I’d prefer to refuse to do it. Whatever. Anyway-these people insisted on having their cat declawed while he was anesthetised for castration. We did the surgical technique rather than just doing it with clippers. That way you don’t have to break the bone, you go in between the bones. Also used Iso gas anesthetic and pain medication instead of just injectable. Despite all these precautions, he woke up and just started yowling and hissing and then escalated into what I can only call screaming. He started doing backflips in his cage, urinating involuntarily, banging his head and his poor bruised, bloody feet. By then the bandages were off and there was blood everywhere. I wondered what could be wrong, then realized he was screaming in pain. We re-anesthetised, re-bandaged, checked his feet, gave more pain meds.. and when he woke back up he did it again. That time the doctor decided he’d had enough and just held him till he calmed down. It took him a good hour to be even remotely aware and even longer to stop crying. Every time I think about that poor cat and his mutilated feet, and that horrible noise he was making, it makes me physically ill. I thought that was an isolated incident, but some people tell me it’s not uncommon.
How tragic that this goes on every day and millions of cats suffer for it.
November 6, 1999
The wonderful cat that owns us is named Kidders. Kidders was a cat that was going to the pound if a home wasn’t found for her. She was 3 months old when she came to live with us. When she was of age I took her to be fixed and declawed. I didn’t know at the time what they do to “declaw” a cat. I would have never done it if I did. I had asked the vet if I should be giving her any thing for the pain. I was informed that cats don’t feel that much pain with this surgery. After bringing her home, Kidders would not put her front feet down. I called the office back several times and was finally told that I could give her baby aspirin and the amount for her weight. I told them if cats can’t feel that much pain then why is she walking on her hind legs. She walked on her hind legs for over 3 weeks. I will never have another cat declawed. I will use the money from having the cat declawed to buy post and other things for the cat to scratch on. I believe vets should have to tell people what is going to happen to their cat not just say “declaw.” Kidders doesn’t get along with other cats. She bites my daughter. I believe that she wouldn’t feel so intimidated if she still had her claws. Please think again and get all the information before you declaw your beautiful loving cat.
Tracy & Kidders
October 31, 1999
Mr. Twink’s story
This happened many years ago. It was a very difficult way to learn about declawing. I had rescued this tiny black kitten, from some children who though it would be fun to see the kitten go round and round in a preheated dryer. I took him from them and home. I fed this kitten for weeks with a doll baby bottle. I was young and hadn’t ever had a kitten before. We became very attached to each other.
About a year later I had a 16 pd neutered black cat and a problem. I had to drive back to the Midwest and would be gone 10 days. I decided to board Mr. Twinks at the vets, thinking he’d be safe there.
Boy was I wrong. As soon as I got to town I went to get him, didn’t even stop to unload the bags. After waiting for 45 minutes, I was beginning to get angry. Why the wait, just bring me my cat. More waiting another 15-20 minutes. At last they brought him to me wrapped in a blanket. I was shocked he hardly looked like the healthy cat I’d left. He had obviously lost weight and was listless to the point, that when they gave him to me,(after I paid the bill) he just barely raised his head and a tiny meow came out. They said he’d caught a cold, he’d be OK. Gave me antibiotics, which they charged me for. I took this now 9 LB cat home. I set him down on the sofa and he didn’t try to get up. I got water and his favorite food and sat beside him. He wouldn’t eat then I saw that his paws looked strange. I took a good long look and saw they looked mangled, and then I saw the stitches. I still had no idea what was wrong with my cat. I called the vet several times and got a run around. So I took Twinks to my Mom and got to the vets at 5 minutes of closing. They didn’t want to let me in the door I force the issue. A very large male like over 6ft and more than 200 lb., their animal handler, told me they had declawed Twinks because they couldn’t handle the cat. He had clawed someone in the office. After a lot of investigation, I found out that he had clawed a tech, while they were mangling his paws.
It took nine months for Twinks to heal and many trips to a different vet. Who told me what had been done to Twinks. The worst part is it made Twinks a very mean cat who would bite and draw blood even on me, if I had to do anything he didn’t want done.
All I had tried to do was see he was safe. I gave no permission to declaw him and keep him drugged. Please be careful if you must leave your cats and please don’t declaw, I doubt you’ll like the results and I know your cat will not.
October 28, 1999
This story isn’t about my cat, it’s about a cat who belonged to neighbors of mine at a previous apartment. They had adopted a kitten they’d found in a cardboard box on the steps of an elementary school (the wife was a school teacher), a beautiful little brown and grey spotted tabby. He was a very young kitten, and a flying ball of fluff. I met him several times, as he often darted out of his apartment when the door was opened. I asked about him a lot because he looked a lot like my cat at the time, a spotted tabby tomcat named Tatsu.
He was adventurous and rambunctious as little kittens tend to be, but this family didn’t seem to know much about kittens. The husband in particular wasn’t always as gentle as he should have been with a small kitten, or as wary of the kitten’s hyperactive behavior. The kitten scratched them a few times, probably in play, as kittens are wont to do. They complained that the kitten was mean, and used his claws too much when they tried to play with him. When he was old enough, they had him declawed both front and back. They thought that would solve their problems.
Well soon they started complaining that the kitten would bite them when they tried to play with him. When I asked what they’d done to try to curb his behavior, they said they yelled at him. I asked about toys, and they said he didn’t have any.
A few months later, the wife found out she was pregnant. When she said that they were awfully sorry they’d have to get rid of the cat (because he was biting them so much and didn’t want this “mean and dangerous cat” around their baby) I gave them the number of a rescue group from whom I’d adopted two cats. Last I heard, they’d surrendered the cat, who was now classified as a special needs animal.
Now I have two cats who are declawed, both by previous owners. These two cats are my most fearful when it comes to interacting with other cats. Any of the other cats can bully them or push them out of the way. In both cases, the cats will panic and bite in a confrontation with either humans or cats. The other cats, who still have their claws, are not as prone to panic and play with each other. The declawed cats, Shoken and Basia, do not play with other cats, and get nervous when others approach. Basia is basically living in isolation because she is terrified of other cats.
I can’t help but believe that both of these cats would be more confidant and playful if they hadn’t been senselessly mutilated for the convenience of their owners. I also believe that the kitten who belonged to my neighbors would have been a happy and loving animal if his people had taken the time to train him and educate themselves rather than taking the simple but brutal steps they did. He bit them for the same reason that Basia bites me, he felt defenseless and he had no effective means of intermediate warnings of distress.
I would never have a cat declawed unless it was a medical necessity for the health of the cat. I’d rather live with a healthy happy animal than a scared and scarred one.
October 15, 1999
One of our cats was declawed when we got her. Horrible, we thought, but it was already done and didn’t seem to bother her at all. She didn’t really get along with the others all that well, but claws weren’t that much of an issue as they just hissed at each other, so she finally settled in. All our cats are indoor only, occasionally outdoors in a special pen and carefully supervised.
So, what’s the problem, you might ask. Well, last week we took her in for a checkup and mentioned to the vet that she’d been walking funny. Just a weird little hop and then shaking her feet. He examined her feet and told us she had adhesions from her declaw surgery. Since we’ve had her for four years, this surgery was fairly old and healed. I had never heard of adhesions from declawing, but the vet said it is fairly common in older declawed cats. He said it’s making her feel like electric shocks on her toes, and it really hurts.
Now we have this poor baby scheduled for more surgery on her feet, to free the adhesions. If I could just give her claws back with this surgery, it might be worth the pain she’ll have to go through (again). But it will only restore, hopefully, her comfort in walking. It is going to be as traumatic as the original surgery, with bandages and pain meds, as well as the risk of infection and bleeding. The vet says it needs to be done now before she is any older and it gets any worse. She is eight years old.
This sweet little girl has never hurt anyone and the whole thing makes me sick, but she is slowly but surely losing her ability to walk.
Anyone who wants to copy this letter to convince someone not to declaw, please feel free. I wouldn’t want to see this happen to another cat.
October 11, 1999
I took two healthy 9-yr old cats in for declaw surgery last week. Today, I have one living cat and am beside myself with heartbreak.
I did not do this out of cruelty, because I hate cats, or because I am a lazy owner. I clipped my cats claws, provided scratching posts, and still faced the specter of stuffing coming out of new furniture and shredded carpet at my feet. I would hear my cats scratching elsewhere in the house and race to the site with a water bottle, but this was less an effective training device than a too-late exercise in frustration.
When I decided to declaw, it was after talking to many other friends with happily declawed cats who could still climb and defend themselves, and who faced none of these problems as owners. It was after reading a vet’s brochure recommending front declaw surgery for any cat spending over 50% of their time indoors. It was with full confidence that I was opting for a very minor procedure. At no time was I dissuaded from this view when I called to arrange it, neither did I think to ask any questions that would have shed a different light.
A small question crossed my mind when I was told it would require a two-night stay, but instead of translating into a full warning bell, I felt that this hospital was being especially caring and conscientious and that they would be practically recovered when they came home. After all, a spay is a much more serious surgery than a “declaw,” right?
I received the call Thursday morning saying both cats were “fine” and could come home Friday.
My cats came home Friday, at which point I was given the post-op care instructions and ONLY THEN discovered that what had actually been performed was a removal of the first digit of every one of their toes. I only need to think about this happening to my own feet, to understand the seriousness and painfulness of this surgery. My heart ached to know this is what they went through, but now it was too late. Still I comforted myself with knowing that according to my friends all their cats breezed through it.
While one cat was alert and of normal temperament, my other cat did nothing but lie stretched out on her side in the middle of the floor. She would get up, find a new spot, and flop back down the same way. I found it very disturbing, especially compared to my other cat’s fairly normal appearance. I was worried enough to take her to the emergency clinic that evening, where they found she had a slightly lowered temperature and recommended a full blood count. They also felt she would be OK through the night and I could take her back to my normal vet in the morning, which I did.
Saturday morning, within 2 hours of taking her to the vet and leaving her there, being told she was “dehydrated,” leaving her there believing she’d be OK, she was dead.
I have no idea what happened. Ruling out kidney and liver failure, the vet offered the hypothesis that my cat had a “weak heart” or a blood clot caused an embolism. I did not approve the final indignity of an autopsy and will never know. What I do know is that my sweet & loving cat’s last days were filled with confusion, pain, and a trauma which resulted in her death, from a decision I made lightly based on misinformation.
Had I read all that I now know, prior to making this decision, this never would have happened and I would not be crying over my lost family member. I hope that other people who find this site are getting the same message. “Declawing” is such a deceptive euphamism, that I practically believed I was having my cats manicured. Ethical vets should be phrasing it for what it is…”digital amputation.” People then could think about how it would feel to go through the same experience – losing all 10 toes at the first knuckle – themselves. The fact that a cat is amazing in it’s ability to adapt and accept the fate we have the power to deal it, and still love us(!), should shame us all the more, not justify the continuation of a cruelty. No more declawing for my cats, ever.
May 18, 1999
When I decided to have my cat Precious spayed and declawed my vet said it would be best to do both procedures in one operation. When I went to pick up my cat from the surgery I was horrified to find out that she had ripped all of her stitches out the night before and had not been found until I came to pick her up which was at 10 a.m. and the vet’s office opened at 8 a.m. . I was told that she would be taken back into surgery to see if the vet could repair the damage she had done. I later found out from another vet that if my cat had been found at 8 a.m. the damage would have been minimal. This just goes to show you how negligent the people who actually take care of your animal after surgery can be. Once I was able to bring precious home I had to keep her on tranquilizers for a couple of days to make sure she wouldn’t tear out her stitches again. When my cat started walking again she would limp terribly. I took her back to the vet and was told that she would get over it in a week. When a week went by and she was still limping I took her back again and was told that she may have to have her toes totally amputated because of damage done during the surgery. Well, needless to say that the veterinarian who performed my cat’s operation didn’t know what he was doing and I am no longer a client of his and I tell everyone I can not to go there. My poor cat can no longer be picked up without meowing because of the pain , she can hardly walk and she hibernates in my closet which she never did before having this surgery. Precious is no longer playful and happy. She is definitely not the same cat that she was before this surgery. I hope people rethink having their cat declawed and do a check on the vet who will be performing the surgery.
Kelly, March 12, 1999