Emotional Problems Of Declawed Cats

by Elisa Black-Taylor

Good morning readers. Today I’d like to talk to you about the emotional problems of declawed cats.

I chose this aspect of declawing to counter those who believe laser declawing doesn’t cause as much damage or pain to a cat. It sounds reasonable when you think about it. Lasers are used in many different types of advanced surgery these days. If you’ve discussed laser declawing with your vet, chances are he hasn’t mentioned the emotional damaged caused by declawing your cat. Remember, bottom line is the vet wants your money and declawing is a fast operation with almost guaranteed repeat business from complications.

Here are some statistics taken from World Small Animal Veterinary Association – 2001:

  • At least 33% developed at least one behavior problem.
  • 17.9% became biters
  • 15.4% would not use the litter box

Here’s an article – link broken Feb 2013. I’d highly recommend a cat owner reading before considering the procedure. Statistics stated in this article show that 70% of cats turned into pounds for behavioral/emotional problems are declawed. And 75% turned in for litter box issues are declawed.

As a rescuer, I can confirm the shelters are full of declawed cats who were turned in by their owners. What many may not know is the percentage euthanized by the shelter system because they had bitten a family member. Those animals are usually not put up for adoption as they are considered a risk to the public. No one wants to adopt a cat who’s a chronic biter.

The veterinary publication Vet Surg 1994 Jul-Aug;23(4):274-80) reported on a 1994 study by the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine that 50% of cats suffered complications immediately following surgery and 20% shortly after surgery.

When a declawed cat first uses the litter box after surgery and finds it a painful experience, that memory may stay with it for life. You can forget about good litter box habits for the rest of the cats life as the cat now associates the litter box with pain. Even after the paws have supposedly “healed” the cat remembers the pain.

Dr. Kimberly Harrison, DVM gets 3-12 calls a day about litter box problems in cats and after ruling out medical issues found that 90% of the cats with litter box aversion are declawed cats. By the way, she refuses to perform the surgery due to these statistics.

Emotional problems may also lead to such physical ailments as bladder problems, asthma and skin conditions.

These numbers are too high to justify an operation that is done solely for the benefit of the cat owner. Notice I used the word “owner” because a caregiver would never do this to a cat. There is a difference.

I can tell you of one emotional problem a declawed cat faces. My declawed cat Misty, who is now 10, has balance problems. This is common in declawed cats. Misty has lost a lot of her self esteem from falling off of things. Cats with claws can grab onto objects and catch themselves.

She also had a problem with a skin condition and hair loss shortly after her rescue. I guess the declawing, plus being turned into the shelter system twice had a negative impact on her already fragile psyche. It is for these reason’s she’s a permanent member of our rescue. The poor girl has endured enough stress in her long life.

I’d like to add we’ve had NO behavioral problems out of her. We treat her well and do our best to make her life as stress free as possible. I feel fortunate not to have liter box issues from our girl.

Many cats have a drastic personality change after declawing. A friendly, outgoing cat may hide and decide to live life on top of the fridge or other high place. This happens because the cat has lost the ability to protect itself from real or imagined threats.

A declawed cat may bite at a much lower stressful situation than a cat with claws as emotions are amplified.

Pam Johnson-Bennett, CABC, is a nationally known certified cat behavior consultant. I was reading through some of her articles and learned a few things I wasn’t aware of about declawing.

First of all, scratching is an emotional release for a cat. They do it when they’re happy or when they’re under stress.

Scratching also leaves a mark when done outdoors that tells another cat it’s entering territory already taken. It also leaves a scent which comes from the paw pads. Without this method of “marking” territory, a declawed cat may urinate as an alternative method of leaving it’s scent.

This is one of the main reasons declawed cats are turned into shelters. The cat doesn’t realize it’s doing anything wrong. It’s simply following instinct the best way it knows how since the way nature intended was taken away by a self serving owner.

Being declawed also takes away any chance for a cat to be safe in an outdoor setting unless in an enclosure to keep it safe.

A cat owner who reads this article and decides to go ahead with declawing mutilation should remember that a declawed cat will cause much more damage to the home in the form of urinating in inappropriate places such as on the sofa and on the carpet.

More importantly, it will cost the cat owner the personality of the cat they have grown to love and think they are doing this in the cat’s best interests. Your cat will never be the same again emotionally. You’ve ruined it physically, and the physical trauma will spill over into emotional trauma. The cat you supposedly love is gone forever. All you have left is future vet bills and a cat who is unable to cope with stress.

The studies have been done. These are not simply numbers we who are against declawing have made up in their heads. Declawing is wrong, it’s illegal in many countries. And it goes against the oath veterinarians take to care for our animals.

Don’t allow a money hungry vet to cause you, a cat lover, to make the worst mistake of your life. Because you are ultimately responsible and will pay for your decision. With tears for your mutilated cat, vet expenses, household damage, and guilt. I urge you to read the complete reference articles I’ve listed below. If those don’t convince you declawing is wrong, there are many more available online.




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Emotional Problems Of Declawed Cats

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Feb 05, 2012
I agree with you all so much NEW
by: Anonymous

I adopted a three year old female declawed cat named Mystro, who is obviously damaged from the surgery. She was a biter, but with patience and kindness, I’ve reduced that much. She is very unbalanced, and falls off things. Poor baby. I hate what was done to her, and vow to make her life as stress free and filled with love as possible. She is overweight now, and is on water and heart pills. Declawing is the most inhumane thing possible. Please, don’t get a cat if you intend to mutilate it. Thanks for this article.

Dec 01, 2011
A good’un
by: Hank

I accidentally posted this to the ghosts thread. It belongs here.

A good’un
by: Hank

What a great post, Elisa. I hope it saves many a cat. You asked me if I lived with cats. Oh yes! I adore cats.

I enjoyed our colloquy yesterday. You are a good sport.

Dec 01, 2011
You tell it exactly as it is !
by: Ruth

There is nothing anyone can add to your wonderful article Elisa as you tell it exactly as it is !
Laser declawing is equally as cruel and disabling as any other method and has as many complications.
I have heard many sad stories from people filled with guilt after their cat died or had physical and/or mental complications after declawing.
None of those people had been warned by their vet that declawing is major surgery, they assumed the cats claws were simply removed. Even that is unthinkable of course to those of us who know that cats need their claws, but maybe if those people had been told it was ten amputations they might have thought twice about having their cat declawed.
With Israel passing a ban we can only hope now that the USA and Canadian vets still declawing will join the rest of the civilised world’s vets very soon and stop breaking their oath to cause no animal to suffer.
I can hardly wait for that day.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Dec 01, 2011
a cat owners story
by: Elisa

I wish I could have found the link to a story I read a few months back of a lady who had her cat declawed without having all the facts. This lady lost her cat to complications a week after surgery. She said she would have to suffer the guilt for what she had done for the rest of her life and looking back on it she couldn’t believe she threw away her cats life over a sofa. She would gladly give up all of her furniture to have her cvat back. Only it was too late.

Dec 01, 2011
Supurb Post, Elisa
by: Grahame

Elisa, that was a superb post about declawing, and I hope that it does a world of good. I enjoy my cats’ claws. They are beautiful and the cats do beautiful things with them.

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