My Declawed Cat

de-clawed cat

Meet Susannah. She was my first cat. And I had her declawed.

I didn’t even know I liked cats until I had Susannah. I got her when I was 20. I didn’t know anything about cats really. My friend and I each adopted a cat at the same time. Her family had always owned cats. We adopted them from the same shelter. We took them to the vet, got them both spayed, vaccinated, de-wormed and declawed. I didn’t even question it. I was told that is what you do to prevent them from scratching furniture. I knew others who declawed their cats as well, so I thought it was completely normal and what one does.

I look back and think how naive I was. I loved her so much, just as much as I love my cats now. I just didn’t think to question the issue of declawing.

The biggest disappointment of myself is that the shelter we adopted her from was an anti-declawing shelter. Normal adoptions through their shelter require you to sign a contract stating you would not declaw. This should have been a huge red flag. Why would a shelter take such a stand about de-clawing? Sadly I didn’t question it. While volunteering at the shelter I met a woman who was also a volunteer and fostering cats through the shelter.

We adopted directly through her and she said she didn’t mind if we declawed or not. I think I only had her home for a couple days before the vet appointment for the spay/declaw. I don’t even remember taking a look at her paws or the design or the claws. I just automatically declawed her.

de-clawed cat

I remember picking her up at the Vet and they asked me if I wanted to buy additional pain medication for her. I was stunned by the question. It didn’t even occur to me she would need pain medication. And that if she did need pain medication why would that be optional? Of course I opted for the meds and had to deliver them orally to her for a few days. She came home with a bandage on one paw and not the other. I don’t even remember the reasoning why. But one paw was defiantly more bloody and sore than the other.

That was the point I realized that this was a bigger deal than I realized. Her paws were bloody for a couple days. But she seemed to be adjusting and healing quickly. At least I thought so. I know now that cats are very good at hiding their pain and the truth is I have no idea how much pain and discomfort she was in.

She went on to live a ‘normal’ life so to speak. This is what I hear most often in support of declawing.

My cat is declawed and lived a long, normal healthy life.

And its true, that some cats seem to recover, adapt and live what we perceive to be a ‘normal’ life. But because your cat has survived this painful, dangerous and inhumane surgery, does not mean it was worth the risk. The reality is many cats are not so lucky.

Scratching is a biological instinct in cats and  it serves many purposes including:

  • marks territory
  • climbing and jumping
  • form of exercise
  • way to express emotions: excitement or release frustration
  • defense and protection against other cats

This post is not to judge or shame anyone. I too declawed my cat that I loved very much. Simply because I was told it was acceptable.

Since then I’ve learned a lot about declawing.

I now live in a country where declawing is illegal and considered inhumane. I have to admit that before getting a cat in my new country I was a bit nervous about the clawing of furniture. As I never lived with a cat that wasn’t declawed I had no idea what to expect. I also have a vintage emerald green velvet sofa that I adore.

But I decided I wanted to live with a cat in my home and that was more important than my sofa. I’m happy to report my cats do not scratch my sofa or anything else in my home. It’s just not an issue. They have a variety of scratching posts of their own which they love to use. This DIY scratching vase I made is their favorite.

So what can you do?

Please do not declaw your cat and help inform those around you not to declaw. If you have declawed a cat in the past. Don’t be ashamed, its part of learning and growing. Once we know better we can do better.

If you haven’t seen the film Paw Project I highly recommend it. It was heartbreaking to learn that vets not only declaw domestic cats but also big cats such lions and tigers used for commercial purposes.

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23 Comments

  1. April 9, 2016 / 6:57 pm

    Fabulous and super brave post. They say “when we know better, we do better” Like you, back in the day I always thought that declawing a cat wasn’t a bad thing. I have never had a declawed cat, but back when I was young I always thought if I had one, I would do it. When I rescued my Angel Bobo he had his claws and thankfully I didn’t declaw him and Cody has his too.

    You were brave to write this and it is a wonderful post! (((hugs))) catchatwithcarenandcody

    • April 9, 2016 / 7:16 pm

      Thank you for your comment. When we know better we must do better, very true. For me its also the same for food. I fed Susannah only cheap dry food. I just never questioned it.

    • June 4, 2016 / 7:23 pm

      It is a good thing that you came to understand the horrors of declawing a cat… and that you are now promoting Not to do such a thing. However I got to say Not knowing does not let you or anyone off the hook..Why ?….Because we all have a compass of what is a right or wrong thing to do….We know things by instinct….like we all know is not good to hit somebody smaller than you, just like we know it is not right to cut a bird’s wings….etc…..I am pretty sure you cat has forgiven you….but I know you will never forget that you did something against nature.

  2. April 9, 2016 / 7:08 pm

    THANK YOU for this post.

    * Like so many other people, you just didn’t know.
    * Like so many other cats, it seems like your kitty did OK in the long run.She was fortunate.

    What makes your post important is that you aren’t being mean to anyone who also opted to declaw (after all, a VETERINARIAN recommended the procedure!) But years later, you’ve learned more about the potential harm that this bizarre amputation can cause to a cat mentally, physically and socially, and I thank you for sharing this information in a kind and supportive way.

    Yes, watch the Paw Project documentary. Nature gave cats claws for reasons, some of which are too subtle for humans to immediately appreciate. Once we have a better understanding of why cats have claws and how important claws are for cats from a social point of view, we can better learn to accept cat behavior more completely.

    • April 9, 2016 / 7:15 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. It’s true my Veterinarian never mentioned any risks or alternatives to declawing.

  3. Alexis
    April 9, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    I adopted a cat years ago from a friend who’d declawed her cat. She hadn’t been advised that her cat would be in extreme pain and they had to take her on a road trip while she was in pain in the car. Luckily only her fronts were done and the healed well. When she adopted a young cat later, that cat wasn’t declawed. She always felt terribly guilty of not finding out what declawing really was.

    I adopted her cat as her step daughter was very allergic to her by less so the younger cat. I can’t say my adoptee lived a really long life as she died at 13 years old from complications from an enlarged heart and grand mal seizures. My furry kid seemed to be okay but so many cat like moves wew limited but she was our bal only moth huntress and exterminator.

  4. April 9, 2016 / 8:48 pm

    We’re so proud of you for this post, Jenna ! Like many people, you “just didn’t know”. We’re sorry for your kitty though, despite she lived a “normal” life. It’s so, SO important to inform future cat owners about declawing, and so, SO important to spread the word and make declawing stop. The most important is that you learned since then, and now it’s your turn to educate people to say NO to declawing. Purrs

  5. April 9, 2016 / 9:38 pm

    We had a very similar situation when our family first had cats. Declawing was a standard thing that people did. I was so shocked to learn that they actually remove the whole first knuckle! Needless to say I’m never going to declaw another cat.

  6. April 9, 2016 / 10:24 pm

    What’s important that you went on and learned why declawing is not a good option…and are sharing your experience and knowledge with others.

  7. pilch92
    April 10, 2016 / 12:00 am

    I admire your honesty and I am glad you realize the error of your ways. I adopted a cat once that had been declawed and lost a front leg because of complications.

  8. April 11, 2016 / 1:29 am

    Pawsum posty. So many are afraid to admit it in this day and age. And they shouldn’t be shamed fur past mistakes, so long as they have learned from them. Appaws appaws to you.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi

    • April 11, 2016 / 9:40 pm

      Thank you :-) I think its important to be honest about mistakes we have made and what we have learned from them.

  9. April 11, 2016 / 5:29 pm

    When I was growing up, we never declawed our cats. Of course we never vetted them unless something drastic happened either and they lived mostly outdoors so it wasn’t even an issue. But when I moved out and took some kittens with me I knew they would be indoors all the time then, so I had them declawed. Like you, I didn’t know it was a bad thing, I thought it was something everyone did for indoor only cats and I was hoping to be able to have a kitty sit on me and knead and not stick claws into me. As well as the furniture thing. My cats seemed to be fine with it, like you said, they are experts at hiding pain. In those early years of adulthood I added several cats to my home, some because it had been more important to declaw than to neuter.. And all of them lost their claws too, only one had bloody paws after the surgery, none were bandaged except him and none were offered pain meds. I shudder to think of this now. My current cats all have their claws and do you know how I keep from getting scratched by kneading paws? I trim claws. What a novel idea.. I’d like to claim young and stupid, and I probably was, but around here there was no one, not a single person or organization, saying declawing was bad. There really was no way for me to know. I’m so glad we know better now!

  10. April 12, 2016 / 4:08 pm

    I worked for a vet when I first had cats, and I’m so glad I did – because I had to assist in declawing procedures and I had to care for the cats recovering from them. It’s a a true surgical procedure similar to removing the first joint of a human’s fingers. Ouch!
    My favorite vet always worked to talk people out of it, and to help them find alternatives. She very rarely did the surgical procedure – only when she felt it was the last resort to keep a loving family form giving up their cats. And still she hated it.
    I’m glad I had that experience so that I know why not to do it. I’m glad you posted about this!

    • April 15, 2016 / 8:58 pm

      Its encouraging to hear about vets that try to educate their clients about the truth of declawing. I believe that’s the reason declawing so acceptable. My vet never mentioned any possible consequences or disadvantages of declawing. We just trust that vets have pets interests in mind.

  11. April 20, 2016 / 4:16 am

    Thanks for such an honest post about your experience with declawing. My husband, before I met him, declawed his two kittens, and he now feels terrible about it. One of the cats (who is now almost seven years old) is quite skittish and I’m pretty sure she has pain in her feet – she’ll sit with one paw held up off the ground, and sometimes her front legs will shake a little bit. It’s quite heartbreaking! But I’m so glad you shared your REAL experience, and I hope that other people can relate to what you wrote, and learn from your experience so that their own cats can live happy, healthy lives. Best, marci <3

    • April 20, 2016 / 7:22 pm

      Thank you for your comments! I think its important to share our past mistakes and what we’ve learned.

  12. April 30, 2016 / 3:11 am

    What a great post and thank you for sharing your story. It’s important for people to know that it’s all about declaw awareness! So many people just don’t know what it is, so it is so good when people spread the word!

  13. May 1, 2016 / 11:07 pm

    Oh good. I’m glad you saw the error of your ways. I was about to give you grief over it. :) I’ve never declawed a cat (and I’ve had many, many cats), nor have I ever had destroyed furniture. It just never happened. Thanks for your heads-up to those who don’t know the consequences (and torture) of declawing a cat. Cheers.

  14. May 2, 2016 / 3:41 am

    Great post! I wish declawing was illegal in the US, too. Maybe someday…

  15. Molly Nicolson
    June 1, 2016 / 2:46 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I am so sad for your first kitty, and sad that you didn’t know in the beginning, but so glad you are now able to help with the cause. My vet luckily never suggested declawing and simply showed me how to trim my cats claws. A couple years later I stumbled on the Paw Project and couldn’t believe what declawing really was. Please keep spreading awareness <3

    • June 2, 2016 / 7:18 am

      You are very lucky you had a good vet that didn’t recommend declawing. Thanks for reading and commenting!