Introduction from Admin: Kim wrote an extensive comment on one of the cat declawing pages on this website which I have converted to an article. You can read her comment below.
I would not want you to prejudge this lady who is clearly a very good and concerned cat caretaker-owner. She is at her wits’ end because her cat in my view was never properly socialized during that 2-7 week period in a cat’s early life. Therefore he switches to wild cat mode frequently. In short, he is not truly domesticated and his wild cat persona is much nearer the surface than is normal.
I believe that it can be trained out (possibly). I would like people to comment and help this woman. Please help her so that she does not have to declaw her cat. This is our challenge. To help this cat integrate.
Kim’s comment and plea for help..
Hi, I am about to get my second cat declawed. I am heartbroken about this and I wanted to know what you think about my decision.
My first cat I never considered declawing because I think it’s cruel. However, my second cat… I’m not sure what else to do. I adopted him from a shelter as a kitten. He has always been very aggressive.
I was hoping he would calm down with age but at this point he is five. And I’m exhausted and frightened and miserable. He’s generally loving and cuddly. But three to six times a week he viciously attacks me. The incidents usually last only about ten minutes but the scratches are deep and I’m covered in them.
I’ve talked to the vet multiple times about this behavior. I have a Feliway plugin diffuser in each room. The vet suggested composure pro which I was giving him. Then the vet suggested Prozac which I give him daily in food. He is played with daily with plenty of toys. He has a tall cat tower and multiple scratching posts, balls, mice, etc. But when he decides to attack… it’s like he freezes up and I see this look on his face and I know it’s coming.
I’ve tried spraying him with water as he approaches. Walking slowly to another room. Backing into another room and closing the door. But he’s so fast and determined. He’s gone for my face. He scratches deep. And then he calms down but it’s just… untenable. I don’t want to live like this. I asked the vet if she would recommend a behaviorist, and she said honestly she thought it would be a waste of money. That his wires in his brain are crossed.
I would pay anything to help him. I would. But nothing seems to help and the vet is out of suggestions. I’m tired of being on edge. I’m tired of my blood being everywhere. I’m tired of deep scratches on my arms, chest, back, thighs, calves, toes, hands. I’m prone to infection and also. It hurts!
I’ve asked a family friend with barn cats about taking him. They refused as they said they were afraid he would attack the other cats or the livestock. And seeing how he treated my roommates cat when I had one, I can’t disagree.
My mom and vet have suggested putting him down. I’m getting him declawed and hoping that with less weapons to deal with I can avoid serious injury better. I’ve read all you’ve wrote. But I still don’t know what to do. ?
Response from Michael: I have responded in a comment as you know. I think that we should all try to see if we can change your cat’s behavior to avoid declawing him. I don’t think Prozac is a good idea myself. I think that the only chance you have of changing his behavior is to train new behavior into him by clicker training and rewards.
There might be some sort of trigger-a visual trigger-which sets him off into aggressive/hunting mode. It might be possible to turn that trigger into a friendly form of behaviour rather than aggression towards you.
I wonder if you could think whether there are particular circumstances which might be triggering this aggressive behaviour e.g. visual signals. Also, I don’t think spraying water is a good idea either because it probably simply enhances the chances of him becoming aggressive. I understand why you do it. It is a last resort and a desperate measure but I think it might make things worse.
He is aggressive because he is unsocialized and that aggression is a form attacking a creature i.e. you who he sees as hostile. You are not hostile. You are friendly but he’s unsocialised to you despite living with you for a long time. It is not your fault. He was not socialised before he ended up at the shelter.
As mentioned and to reiterate, if there are particular circumstances under which he becomes aggressive towards you it may be possible for him to react to those circumstances through training in a more positive and friendly way. That is my current thinking and it may be overly optimistic. I don’t think, as your veterinarian said, that is brain has crossed wires.
He is simply behaving, temporarily, as a feral cat because he is in effect semi-feral. If you can make a video that would help.
**KIM…PLEASE READ THE COMMENTS AS WELL**