by Elisa Black-Taylor
Cocoa is toothless and declawed
Ginger was 10 and refused to eat
Misty has to struggle to keep weight on
Do declawed cats have food issues? By this, I mean do they take less pleasure from their food or refuse to eat more than the bare minimum necessary to sustain life?
I’ve rescued three declawed cats to date. Misty was our first rescue back in early 2011. She’s a ten year old girl who’d been adopted through the shelter system and then returned due to behavorial problems. Misty has been a challenge to keep weight on. I doubt if she’s ever weighed more than six pounds since her rescue.
She also showed no signs whatsoever of a personality until my daughter returned after a week long absence from visiting her grandmother. Misty practically told Laura off in cat talk. It was so funny to watch this otherwise quiet cat talking up a storm, chastising Laura for leaving her behind.
We have to be creative to get Misty to eat enough. She does seem to enjoy the Whiskas Purrfectly Fish we’ve had Sealy on. She also has Nutra-Stat as a calorie supplement as ordered by her vet. Between the wet food and the supplement, Misty is probably as happy food-wise as we can hope for.
She doesn’t play. She lays around napping. Toys don’t interest her. Neither does climbing. Probably because the few attempts she’s made at climbing resulted in a fall from not having her claws.
The same holds true with our Snowshoe mix Cocoa. He has one tooth and is declawed on all four paws. Cocoa refused to eat a bite on his own the first few weeks after his rescue. I’d mix high calorie/high priced wet food from the vet with water and feed it to him using a syringe. He eventually graduated to a tiny baby spoon, then finally began eating on his own. I remember being terrified of Cocoa dying those first few weeks because he lost several pounds. We’re thankful he was a 14 pound cat to begin with and only lost down to 11 pounds. Cocoa is around nine years old now.
Cocoa, like Misty, doesn’t play. He sits on the back of the couch or on the couch arm. As long as he’s near me, he appears content.
We lost Ginger last week. She was at the shelter for a little under a week when we rescued her. Her recorded weight at the shelter was around nine pounds. On the day of her rescue she weighed less than five. We worked so hard to save poor Ginger. She was listed as being turned in to the shelter by her owner because of the owner’s health. I believe Ginger’s health had just as much to do with her being surrendered. She wouldn’t eat. She wouldn’t drink. We gave her subQ fluids and syringe fed her. She died peacefully in my bed a little over a week after her rescue. It’s so hard to deal with her loss. Especially since we were able to save Misty and Cocoa. Ginger’s story can be found here at www.pictures-of-cats.org/i-adopted-your-grieving-cat.html.
I’m not sure the shelter experience was the cause of these three cats not having an appetite. Since Ginger’s death, I’ve spoken to several owners of declawed cats who are watching their cats die. That’s what happens to a cat when life isn’t fun anymore. A cat loses part of it’s essence when the toes are viscously cut off. That’s what happened to Ginger. She had no light in her eyes. There was nothing we could do to convince her life was worth living. Nothing for her to look forward to.
Declawed cats have magnified emotions. That much has been proven. They don’t handle stress or change very well. Which is what happens to a cat when the owner dumps it at a shelter. I can imagine a declawed cat wonders whether the shelter will bring more pain. The metal cage is familiar. The cat was in a similar environment when the declawing was committed. Yes, I mean committed. Because to cut off ten toe ends is a crime. It’s NOT a service for your cat. It’s a service for the cat OWNER.
We were fortunate in being able to provide a calm existence for Misty and Cocoa. I feel we’ve failed Ginger. Even though I keep telling myself her owner is the one who failed her. Not me. We tried to put food into her until such a time she’d be assured she was in a safe place in our home. Time just ran out for all of us.
Do any of you with declawed cats have a problem getting your cat to eat? If any cat in my household should have an eating problem, it should be Sealy with his injured ear. I’m pleased to announce Sealy is a feline garbage disposal. He’s either eating or wanting to eat every time we look at him. I believe he wants to see what treats he can get out of us. Sealy has his claws. It would probably be in his best interest if he couldn’t use them at this time, as he makes a habit of scraping his scabs off on a daily basis. Claws are what gives Sealy his “spunk” and we respect that.
We love Sealy and understand his claws are important to him. I only wish Misty, Cocoa and Ginger’s previous owners had left their appendages alone. Cats are born with claws for many reasons. We can see the physical ones. It’s the emotional problems that result from declawing that people refuse to believe. Declawing does change a way a cat sees life.
Unfortunately for many cats, declawing makes life not worth living.