Cats Need Claws To Walk!

Cats Need Claws To Walk!

by Elisa Black-Taylor
(USA)

Cocoa:My declawed rescue

Cocoa:My declawed rescue

Cocoa:My declawed rescue Mister Tom has his claws

Cats need claws to walk in much the same context as birds need wings to fly.

I did the following video as a project when a reader of pictures-of-cats.org wrote in and requested video of a declawed cat walking. Preferable a side view. My daughter had ordered a harness so she could take Mister Tom out for a walk and I decided to give Cocoa the same pleasure.

Here's the video.

As it turned out, the outdoor world isn't a pleasure for a declawed cat. My poor rescued cat Cocoa is declawed on all four paws. See how he slinks with his belly close to the ground? What you can't see in the video is the warm earth, small rocks, and uncertainty a declawed cat faces.

Was Cocoa afraid his paws would slip without the balance of claws? Did the slight heat of the earth cause him pain? All I know is this was a very eye opening experience.

Mister Tom had confidence as he explored the "wilderness" around my home. He took each step with confidence and pride. He'll definitely be taking a lot of harness walks.

Cocoa has probably made his last journey outside unless I can find some nice soft grass for him to lay in. He kept laying down. Pay close attention to each paw as it touches the ground. Each step is a step into the unknown for a declawed cat. Will it burn? Will it hurt?

I can tell already he'll have arthritis in his old age. He moves a lot like my mother did in her senior years. Bad comparison, but mama had rheumatoid arthritis and I believe Cocoa will have medical issues caused by the declawing.

I've heard a lot of people say there's no difference in how a cat with claws and a declawed cat move. I say they're wrong. Not only is the difference in the body, it's in the attitude.

I'll be honest. Inside the house I forget Cocoa is declawed. He did have a sad declawed cat moment a few weeks ago when he went to jump onto the dining room bar and slid back down when he couldn't get a claw grip. Other than that, he moves the same as the others do. There's no difference in how he walks compared to my other rescues.

Which could be because I have either carpet or flooring that doesn't cause him to slip. I've learned people with hardwood floors have declawed cats whose feet literally go out from under them. NOT good for a cats confidence. Not to mention a cat is good at hiding pain.

I hope everyone will watch my video several times and compare my two cats. Remember it's not just the physical problems Cocoa encountered. It's the lack of confidence I'm sure he felt. After all, he had no way to defend himself in the "wilderness" behind my home.

And declawed cats ARE defenseless. Let's put an end to it before more cats have to suffer.

Elisa

Notes: I've had a lot of people ask me why all four paws are declawed. I have an answer, although I'm not sure if it's correct. When a cat wants to jump from it's owner's arms, sometimes it will kick and the back claws will come out and scratch. Removing the back claws prevents the owner from being scratched.

I'm not going to say what should happen to the person who declaws a cat because I don't like to use that kind of language.

The harness I purchased for Mister Tom is from Amazon and is called the Comfort Controlled Harness. Here's the link - click on the image to go to Amazon:

Get a medium. I got a large and ended up having to rig it and finally to sew it so it would be tighter. The cats don't mind the harness because it's very comfortable and gets great reviews by people who have bought one for their cat.

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Cats Need Claws To Walk!

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May 16, 2011
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Mister Tom was at the top of the list
by: Elisa

I told Andrea to only call me on him if no one wanted him and he was about to be euthanized. I was the only one to speak up for him. He has such a sad look on his face but he's very happy with us. And he and Cocoa are best friends now and lay together a lot. It's a 20 ft. lead so he has lots of room to wander and I'm out in the country with all the wild animals. I won't even go in the woods at night. We've heard something very big back there.


May 16, 2011
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Elisa is a cat's best friend
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

Elisa, I don't think you should worry about this at all. Maybe Cocoa didn't like the harness, but this is what you had to do to get video of a four paw declawed cat walking. I would keep trying, see if he gets used to the harness and being outside and gives you even better video. His altered gait could help other cats. It's not enough to just say that cats walk differently without their claws, because the vets will deny it. A definitive analysis of cat gait with the help of veterinarians and physical therapists must be done and you are helping with that effort.

I don't believe the changes in gait are so easy to spot. We have to be sure we're not just seeing what we want to see, or assume we will see, when looking at a declawed cat walk. I think I spotted some changes in weight bearing that had nothing to do with the harness, but I don't feel that that proves anything yet. There is a lot of work to be done. Anyone who says the difference in gait is obvious is just being mean and unfair. It's NOT obvious and my whole job is about gait so I notice how everyone walks, human and animal, all the time.

I've watched my friend's declawed cats walk and I'm not sure I have seen any differences. If there are differences (and I believe there are) they probably can be spotted only using a direct comparison with a cat with healthy toes and with the film slowed down for each cat's gait video. An antalgic gait proves nothing! There are lots of reasons a cat can have pain with walking. What we need is proof that declawing changes a cat's walk even if the cat is not in any pain, and that these changes lead to extraneous joint motions, which lead to premature joint wear and tear, ultimately causing arthritis and pain.

Also, I think leashes give a cat more freedom than an outdoor enclosure. You don't walk a cat like you walk a dog. You go where the cat wants to go. Mr. Tom doesn't even notice his harness-- he's just having the time of his life. But the harness is there to keep him safe. Let's not forget that without you, Mr. Tom probably wouldn't even be alive right now.


May 16, 2011
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Cocoa doesn't walk on the floor much
by: Cocoa

The cats actually have a game inside the house. They like to go from room to room without touching the floor. First they jump on the console TV, then the empty bookcase behind a chair, then onto the bar. The dining room bar is one step on the floor, then into the chair then onto that bar. So they don't take more than a few steps on the floor to get anywhere. I just realized seeing them walk outside is the first straight walking I've seen them do.


May 16, 2011
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Thank you, Elisa
by: Chris H.

Thank you for posting this, Elisa. I agree with you and Michael. I think MORE people need to post photos and videos!

I have to try and record our Ollie's gait and obviously misshapen wrists; he's a little front declawed cat we found outside. It's difficult to photograph him because he has black fur. He will venture into the back yard sometimes where the light is better, but he generally doesn't like to go outside.

He got shut out on the front veranda by accident one evening. He freaked out, jumping up and banging on the storm door and crying. He was limping when he came in; it looked like his wrist hurt.

Ollie will strike out or spaz at our other cats, even when they aren't doing anything to him. He howls when we put him in the carrier and drive to the vet's, but I would too if I was taken back to a place that chopped off the end of all my fingers! He will also suddenly shake his front paws like they hurt. I think he's definitely suffering negative effects of declawing that will probably get worse in the future, like Dr. Jean's x-rays and photos show (http://www.littlebigcat.com/health/physical-consequences-of-declawing/).

I noticed an older declawed cat that lives at a local vet's office has badly deformed wrists. His clinic doesn't declaw and he's taken in a variety of cats whose owners would have put them down.

Please keep speaking out for those who can't!


May 16, 2011
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Perspective
by: Michael

I think we should keep things in perspective. Elisa is showing us how two cats walk outside, one declawed and the other not. She has the courage to make her own comments and assessment and welcomes the input of others. This is helpful and positive stuff.

I don't think anyone has the right under these circumstances to make negative comments about the author.

Also for me Elisa is saying that Cocoa walks reasonably normally indoors on carpet but in an apprehensive way outdoors on dirt and grass etc. Elisa comments on this. This is good and she makes sensible comments. I don't see a contradiction in her comments or that she is saying that "all the rescue cats move in a pre-arthritic way?"as Petra asks.

I only see good in this. It is informative and educational and Elisa is a dedicated cat person. She cares for cats better than almost anyone. These cats are safe.

The issue is really whether Cocoa is walking nervously and slinking close to the ground because he has no claws (and is perhaps in discomfort) or whether he is scared outdoors because he is used to being indoors all the time or whether the lack of claws makes him feel defenseless and therefore nervous or a combination of these factors.

For me, there can be no criticism of Elisa, only praise. She is contributing by rescuing cats and contributing by discussing declawing and contributing by taking the time and effort to write this article and make this video.

Michael Avatar


May 16, 2011
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Guess I'll just keep Cocoa in from now on.
by: Elisa

Sorry to have caused so much trouble. I cannot afford a cat run. I won't let my cats be killed by the coyotes, wolves, wild dogs and cars in my area. I thought I was doing a good thing letting him walk. SOmeone wanted a video of a declawed cat walking outdoors so that's why I did this. I have a site called Declawing Veterinarians Should Be Blacklisted with over 1000 members. I've saved 22 death row cats since November. I spend any money I have on my rescues. I've written over 150 articles in the past year on cats. All of this while holding down a full time job to support them.

I've heard several people say their declawed cats walk the same and those were indoor cats. I wanted to emphasize the cat may appear OK indoors but outdoors is a whole different story.

And yes I do need new glasses. Just can't afford them.

So once again I'm questioning whether I should stop my rescues since I can't afford a cat run!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


May 16, 2011
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I'm glad someone else spotted this
by: Petra

I must say I looked a bit askance at this too, on the one hand the author writes "I can tell already he'll have arthritis in his old age." then on the other she writes "Other than that, he moves the same as the others do. There's no difference in how he walks compared to my other rescues" Does that mean all the rescue cats move in a pre-arthritic way?
I'm a bit concerned that this is giving out a wrong message to pro-declawers by implying that declawed cats walk no differently to clawed cats.
I also think that the way the second cat behaved outdoors was largely due to the fact that he hated wearing the harness.


May 16, 2011
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Too right Lyn
by: OJ

Too right Lyn the walk of a declawed cat is completely different to the walk of a clawed cat even in the house.
Anyone reading that the walk is no different will now think it's fine to declaw indoor cats.
Poor traumatised Cocoa is terrified of the great outdoors it's obvious to see and with the great big truss shaped thing on him no wonder he's low belly.
For God's sake if anyone can't let cats be free then build a run,don't treat them like dogs.


May 16, 2011
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I do see a didderence
by: Elisa

I see a major difference in their strides walking outside. Inside not so much. Cocoa really doesn't walk around that much indoors. I have a few cat trees ordered and I'm curious to see how a declawed cat and a cat with claws play together on the tree.

Cocoa does lick his paws more than the others. Perhaps a sign of pain?


May 16, 2011
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Someone needs glasses
by: Lyn James

I was shocked to read that the author doesn't notice a difference between this 4 paw declawed cat walking to her other claw intact cats when indoors. The subject cat has had multiple amputations to all of his feet removing the digits designed for cats to walk on forcing him to shift his weight when he walks. If you can't see a difference in him walking with a permanently altered gait, please look again because the difference is there. Pro-declaw people are the ones that can't see a difference.


May 15, 2011
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There is just so much that is wrong about declawing a cat.
by: Vancat

Cats claws are like human toes. Having had out toes all our life and developed thru evolution, They are part of the balance assist that keeps us upright and in posture. Suddenly no claws means, unavoidably poor posture resulting in additional aches and pains in upper limbs and body (Spinal)
Adding to this, constantly having to walk on the parts of the feet and paws that are normally only used in stepping about, are having to be used full time in a manner that they werent designed for causes pain to those weaker areas.
There is just so much that is wrong about declawing a cat. As if someone took a human being, cut their feet off and made them walk about on their remaining ankle bones. a lot of weight baring down on a lesser area. Imagine that pain if you can and multiply it to an already basic design of the feline.
Designed for already low maintenance and all-terrain travel.


May 15, 2011
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There is just so much that is wrong about declawing a cat.
by: Vancat

Cats claws are like human toes. Having had out toes all our life and developed thru evolution, They are part of the balance assist that keeps us upright and in posture. Suddenly no claws means, unavoidably poor posture resulting in additional aches and pains in upper limbs and body (Spinal)
Adding to this, constantly having to walk on the parts of the feet and paws that are normally only used in stepping about, are having to be used full time in a manner that they werent designed for causes pain to those weaker areas.
There is just so much that is wrong about declawing a cat. As if someone took a human being, cut their feet off and made them walk about on their remaining ankle bones. a lot of weight baring down on a lesser area. Imagine that pain if you can and multiply it to an already basic design of the feline.
Designed for already low maintenance and all-terrain travel.


May 15, 2011
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beautiful kitty
by: Debbie

I agree cats should never be declawed, but I dont see anything weird about cocoa going outside, he may have never been on a leassh before. I have a cat who was declawed before I rescued him. and when I started taking him for walks in the yard he walked close to the ground also, but after a while of taking him out he now walks well on the leash. doesnt matter if hes walking on the wood deck or the grass or a dirt area. but cats do need to get used to leash walking, plus if this was a inside cat before maybe they were never outside, that also makes cats creep (what I call the low walking ) give cocoa time, a few minutes at a time and im betting in a few weeks cocoa will walk fine on the leash 🙂 but like I said I agree declawing a cat is not humane


May 15, 2011
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Lots of outside time for Mr. Tom
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

Ha, ha, ha. I saw this coming Elisa. Mr. Tom enjoys his outside time so much he is going to want more and more! It's absolutely blustery out there today, windy and almost wintry it's so cold and what do I hear from Monty in an almost constant refrain? "Meow, meow, Mom. Meow, meow, Mom. Take me outside, Mom! Meow, meooow!!" He sounds like he's in pain. Tried to convince him exploring the basement is just as fun, but he's not buying it.

It seems like Cocoa is bearing weight differently through his paws than Mr. Tom. There is a difference in his gait that goes beyond unfamiliar territory, I think. More work is needed to analyze cat gait, but these videos are a great resource! Thanks for posting these! It was fun to see Mr. Tom having such a great time out there.


May 15, 2011
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Indoor cats
by: Elisa

Mine are all indoor cats too. Tom is the only one who ever tried to sneak out every time the door was opened. And he and Cocoa have become buddies. I may get another harness so they can go on walks together. I've ordered a few cat trees and also a bunk bed box for the cats to sleep in and play on.

When I had outdoor cats I'd worry myself to death about their safety. Mine like to lay on top of the TV and look out the window or behind the kitchen sink. Some of the cats come in my room and sit on the air conditioner and look out. Which is fine as long as they don't wake me up meowing. Most of my cats are very quiet. Tom and Cocoa are the vocal ones and Gizzy is just a psychopath.

But perhaps the question isn't whether his self confidence is to blame, instead what took his self confidence. A cat with no claws and no defense is going to be more afraid outdoors. You'd think walking into my house for the first time would have done that with all the other cats and no way to fight. It didn't. He's always walked with confidence inside around the cats and dogs.


May 15, 2011
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@ Sarah
by: Elisa

Thanks Sarah. I'll try grass only next time. I want him to enjoy his life with me. Mr. Tom enjoyed his walk so much he was meowing on top of my air conditioner in the middle of the night wanting out. I had to put him out of my room and block the hole where he couldn't come back in there. He usually sleeps in the living room anyway.


May 15, 2011
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RE: Mr. Tom and Cocoa Go For Walks
by: jmuhj

If that was Cocoa's first time outside, it explains his looking apprehensively and listening warily. I don't know if it has anything to do with his lack of claws -- though I absolutely oppose declawing! -- but think it has more to do with his being in unfamiliar surroundings. If you read his body language, he is clearly very worried about something behind him. As for going outside, none of my beloved cats do, and they aren't missing a thing as they have many kinds of cat furniture (and general-use furniture), interactive and other toys, French doors and lots of windows to look out, each other, and of course, their humble servant.


May 15, 2011
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Declawed walkinh with leash.
by: sarah

to me it seems it is self confindence.I have a 4 paw declawed kitty that wears booties and sometimes not.he walks on the leash like mr.tom.so,I think he needs to get used to walking on just grass and gets his feet used to that before sand.


May 15, 2011
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Between teeth and claws
by: Elisa

Having neither to defend himself I don't know if he'll ever have any confidence. When I get the chip so my phone can make movies I'll try and get a better one of him.

Poor baby. He's such a gentle cat and didn't deserve any of this.


May 15, 2011
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Lack of confidence is one reason
by: Michael

I think one thing is clear. Cocoa lack confidence. I wonder if he is taken out again on the leash (great leash work by the way) whether he would gradually gain in confidence and if so whether we could then see how much of this manner of walking is due to lack of confidence and how much is down to his paws.



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