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Cat Care – Caring For Cats After Declawing

Cindy asks…

Risks of declawing a cat?

My parents got a bunch of new furniture after our cat scratched up all other furniture.

I walk into the kitchen and my parents tell me that they are declawing my cat and when I tried to protest they just talked over me telling me “I wouldn’t understand” and that “They are tired of having scratched up furniture”

The thing is that he is MY cat, and I was the one who took care of him when he was little (he was a stray) and I’m still the one who takes care of him.

They refused to listen to me and are telling me that he is to stay in the garage for two days until the appointment to declaw him.

What are the risks of declawing a cat?

If it helps, my cat is about 1 and a half years old.
My parents also refuse to do the plastic nail tips. They say that their nails grow too fast and that they don’t constantly want to be replacing the tips when they fall off.

Cat Coach answers:

If you’re thinking about having your cat declawed, there are many things you should know before you make your decision. The surgery is basically an American trend, and is considered inhumane and is illegal in many countries (England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Portugal, Belgium, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Yugoslavia and Japan). If that doesn’t impact your opinion about declawing, maybe this website will help you decide: http://community-2.webtv.net/stopdeclaw/declawpics/

I believe that people who have their cats declawed are uneducated and lazy. It is not very difficult to train your cat to use a scratching post. The surgery is not simply a trimming of the claws, it’s an amputation of the distal phalanx, including bones, ligaments, and tendons! To remove the claw, the bone, nerve, joint capsule, collateral ligaments, and the extensor and flexor tendons must all be amputated. If you were to make a comparison, it would be like having the last joint of each of our fingers chopped off. So of course it is a painful surgery, with a painful recovery. There are often many complications in the healing process, including infection often from litter box use, resulting in a life-long aversion to the litter box. Other declawed cats that can no longer mark with their claws, will mark with urine instead, resulting in inappropriate elimination problems.

Many cats who have been declawed are traumatized and become withdrawn, nervous, fearful and/or aggressive. Cats who went through the painful surgery are more prone to resort to biting when they feel threatened. Since cats have emotional feelings (just like we do) they can resent you if you decided to get them declawed. All of these things can cause depression and ultimately lead to an overweight cat.

If a cat who has been declawed accidentally escapes, he/she would be in great danger. A cat needs it’s claws to defend itself, as well as to escape by climbing. The constant state of stress, caused by a feeling of defenselessness may make some declawed cats more prone to disease. Also they cannot stretch their back and shoulder muscles like they do naturally when they dig their claws into a scratching post.

One popular alternative is Soft Paws. They are lightweight vinyl nail caps that you glue on the cat’s front claws. They’re great for households with small children and are extremely useful for people who are away from home all day and can’t exercise the watchfulness necessary to train a cat to use a scratching post. Soft Paws are easy to apply and last about four to six weeks. They come in clear or colors–which are really fun.

If your cat is scratching your furniture or rugs, here is some advice on training them to use a scratching post:
Most common types of damage are scratched furniture, ripped carpets and shredded wallpaper. You want to eliminate the problem before it occurs. Buy or build a stable, tall scratching-post, right from the start. Here are some tips to do it right:
• The post should be at least two feet high, covered with sisal-rope
• Get more than one, especially when you have a multi-cat household
• Place the post close to the furniture or other areas which are most at risk
• Introduce a new scratching-post with some catnip sprinkled on its surface. Cats love that and it’s more attractive to them
• If your cat starts scratching the “wrong” object, say “NO” and gently carry your cat to the desired post. Demonstrate how to use it by scratching the post with your own nails. If the cat doesn‘t catch on after trying this repeatedly for a few days, gently pick up his paws rub them along the post.
• Never force your cat. When it starts scratching the post by itself, make sure you use verbal praise with a rewarding treat and affection. The cat needs to know that using the scratching post results in positive things such as affection, playing and treats.
• When you have a kitten, start early with the “pawing at post” technique
• Invest in what’s called a “cat tree” which acts also as a leisure area for your cat. Different textures and heights make it more interesting, you perhaps want to build it yourself
• Try some repellent like pepper-dust or some commercial products on your furniture to keep your cat off these areas
• Be persistent and don’t give up too soon

Use cat claw trimmers and only take off a tiny bit at the end of the nail. They often come with instructions. Never use trimmers that are made for humans or dogs, because you are more likely to hurt her that way. Do it once a week. Here’s a website in case you need it:

http://www.catscratching.com/htmls/article.htm

Richard asks…

Bathing after a declaw?

Our vet called us knowing that we take in cats who are homeless and find them homes. Well she called and someone had gotten this poor kitten declawed on all four paws and then decided they didnt wannapick her up or pay!!! I said of course. I stay home so I could care for the poor thing. Well anywho, today I was taking a nice bath while I had some time to myself. The kitten jumped into the water and started swimming around…weird I know lol. At first I was thinkign oh how cute and playin with him. Then I thought WAIT he was just declawd a week ago so I got him out of the water and toweled him off. I tried to call our vet but they closed early today. Does anyone know if it is ok to be in water this soon after declawing? Not a lot of vets in Indiana declaw so the others I have called said they do not know. I hope someone can answer this.
BTW I am asking because I have never had a cat declawed and I cant find anyone who could answer this. Thanks :)

Cat Coach answers:

Generally you’re supposed to wait 7-10 days after a surgical procedure before you give your pet a bath, so the kitten should be OK.

Joseph asks…

Declawing 1 year old cat?

I am asking, trying to help out a friends cat… she just bought furniture and this cat really would like to shred it to pieces… the only option is to declaw her ( I know, I know.. I have a cat that is NOT declawed and I do not approve of it- BUT if it is an only option…) My question is- can you declaw an “older” cat- she is only about a year old. Are there any special things you have to consider for her after care?

Cat Coach answers:

Hi there,

Take a moment to think about your statement that there are no alternatives to declawing.It is just not correct. It is not the only option. If you really disapprove of the practice which is banned in 25 countries ( wonder why?) you would spend more time convincing your friend that there are options to declawing, since folks who live in those other countries have found them. You might also ask your friend if she has ever cut one of her nails too deeply and to remember how painful it was. This is just a fraction of the pain which a cat must endure post surgery and in some cases, permanently.

To name a few:
1. Learn to clip nails and do it every two weeks for front, and 4 weeks for hind claws.
2. Offer the cat really attractive cat posts and trees to claw on. They must be high enough for a cat to fully stretch out otherwise cats won’t use them. They use them to stretch their muscles .. Especially after naps. Carpeted ones are generally useless if that is the only material that is used. Sisal posts and sisal covered trees are magnets to cats. The cardboard scratchers are fabulous as well and very cheap.
3. Put scratching posts in every room of the house. Make sure that their texture does not in any way resemble the furniture.
4. Buy slip covers for treasured furniture and remove it for company.. And if the cat is still attracted, confine the cat in another room when the covers are off. You can get plastic corner shields for furniture.. Cat Fancy magazine advertises this product.
5. Try soft paws.
6.The backs of carpet samples are very attractive to cats to scratch on. The material used on the backing is magnetic, and they are very inexpensive.
7.If all of these options fail, rehome the cat if the furniture is more important.
Here are two excellent resource links to share with your friend..

Http://www.clickertraining.com/node/217

http://www.pet-dog-cat-supply-store.com/shop/cat-scratch-posts.php

Declawing at any age is an abomination, in my opinion.Veterinarians who suggest this procedure are doing so to enjoy the huge fees which declaw surgery brings into their practice. Thankfully there are a few veterinarians in the USA who refuse to do it.

Hope this helps and good luck to you in changing your friend’s mind.

Troublesniffer
Owned by cats for over 40 years
A passionate anti-declaw advocate.

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