Introduction: this is a repost of a Paw Project-Utah newsletter. The objective is to spread the word about Paw Project-Utah and the excellent work they do while also providing updating information about Mollie a declawed cat and general information on caring for declawed cats. Good reasons to repost the newsletter.
By Kirsten Doub, DVM
Recently, Dr. Doub had the pleasure to be part of a team of people who collaborated their efforts to help a declawed cat get help, due to pain resulting from declaw surgery. This cat is named Mollie. She is an 8-year-old Siamese/Himalayan, who continuously shakes her paws to show how badly she wishes to get rid of the pain she feels. Mollie isn’t jumping like she used to and hasn’t covered her ‘stuff’ in her litter box for a good year. Mollie’s guardian, Tina, posted her story on the website Pictures-of-Cats.org (PoC) and caught their attention. Michael Broad, the creator of Pictures of Cats, explained that their website makes a donation every month to a cat charity. PoC stepped in to assist Mollie’s guardian financially for the x-rays to be done by a veterinarian in Mollie’s home town, who would then work with with Dr Doub in helping Mollie. The x-ray was performed by Dr. Serena Heig at Canyon Lake Veterinary Hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota, where Mollie lives. Dr. Doub has been able to review the x-ray, and determined that there are no fragments in Mollie’s paws. This is fantastic news; however, this does not mean that Mollie’s issues are not related to the declaw surgery. Following are the general guidelines for all declawed cats, and what Dr. Doub recommends for Mollie:
- For starters, yearly x-rays, lab work, and a good Physical Examination (PE) including close examination of paw pads, to check for calluses and pain sensitivity. The x-rays should be done as needed, yearly, or biyearly. This is very important for your cat’s wellbeing, as the x-rays will identify any new nail or bone re-growth.Yearly lab work is a good idea for all cats. Some say declawed cats are more likely to get cystitis or diabetes….the jury is still out. We are subscribing to the cystitis, and looking at it in my study right now. The bottom line is that any stressed cat can develop cystitis.
- Visual examination of gait at each visit. Make sure your DVM watches your cat walk, as this is very important. If it is determined that your cat walks more on his/her wrists (plantigrade stance), then laser treatment on the carpi of plantigrade is recommended. Most declawed cats will start doing this at about age five, as the arthritis starts in their wrists to compensate for abnormal forces.
- All declawed cats would benefit from a joint supplement like dasuquin or cosequin, daily. Typically, it’s the contents of one capsule on the food, once a day. Both products can be purchased over the counter, and are available online. Dasuquin is better because it goes beyond the traditional glucosamine/chondroitin sulphate, by containing avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU), which makes it a better joint health supplement.
- Also recommended is Omega 3 Fish Oil, also daily. Typically, 250mg for a 10lb cat. Please take your time when purchasing any of these products online, and choose one that comes from a reliable company and is in the format that will work for you and your cat.
- Gabapentin can also be helpful; it’s a prescription pain medication. Very good for neuropathic pain analgesia. Also called Neurontin in human med. It is deemed relatively safe due to it’s wide dosing range and the fact that it is renally excreted. Thus, for well hydrated, healthy patients, lab work does not typically need to be run before initiating this pain medication. Gabapentin has shown great promise in human medicine for phantom nerve pain in amputees as well as an adjunctive pain medication in inflammatory processes such as spinal and extremity pain including osteoarthritis. It is recently gaining great momentum in vet medicine. I prescribe gabapentin now just as much as NSAIDS like metacam and rimadyl, due to its wide use in a plethora of painful animal conditions. Neurontin is the generic however some liquid formulations of the generic contain xylitol and should not be used in companion animals such as dogs and cats due to the risk of hypoglycemia. Veterinary gabapentin is safe for companion animals. Gabapentin should also never be started and stopped quickly without veterinary supervision. This medication is also an anticonvulsant and abrupt changing of dose even in non-epileptic animals can produce seizures and other neurologic systems. Talk to vet and see if your cat could benefit from this medication.
- Weight! Keep the cat in it’s ideal weight range. Overweight is not good because it will make the already stressed P2 bones (the bones left in thepaw, carrying all the weight now) even more likely to punch through the uncushioned paw pads. If you are not sure how much your cat should ideally weigh, ask your vet.
- Minimize stress in the environment. Declawed cats are PTSD cats and ANY stressor will make them act out. Declawed cats may be stressed by the mere presence of other creatures. I highly recommend, extensively reading, the article written by a DVM titled, ‘Indoor Pet Initiative’ on the website http://pawprojectutah.us8.list-manage.com/track/click?u=ee2d453714f3b85e58c17026b&id=dfc6a3da3a&e=7761b4b918. Click on ‘For Cat Owners’ once you get there. I urge you to read about what stresses a cat. Inappropriate elimination can be due to paw pain or stress. The best thing to do when this happens, is to set the cat up in a bathroom, alone, with a nice soft litter box, food and water, and let him/her relax there for a few days. The goal is to see if the cat starts using the litter box again.
- Shredded paper litter may be helpful for your cat when it comes to using the litter box.
Progress takes time, so be patient grasshopper.
Kirsten Doub, DVM