Promising New Research May Show Way To Help Declawed Cats

Declawed cats. The very idea is offensive and revolting to many pet owners, veterinarians, and animal rights activists, and rightly so. Declawing is an unnecessary amputation of the last bone of each toe, which causes ongoing problems for these cats. Those problems include arthritis, club-foot, chronic pain, and more. Those of us with declawed cats (whether we adopted them that way or had it done), who wish we could do something to help them, may be interested in this new research.

Personally, I know I’m interested. All four of our cats are declawed because we didn’t know what it actually was when we had it done. Once we learned the truth, it was too late. If there may soon be a standardized way to help them with pain and the problems the unnatural gaits that the missing bone causes, then I’m all ears.

Despite studies showing the opposite, people still report a higher rate of litter box problems with declawed cats

Many people whose cats are declawed report problems with litter box behavior. One (very strong) possible reason for the litter box problems declawed cats experience is the pain in their paws. Eventually, it’s just too painful to step and dig into cat litter – even the finest of fine-grained litters.

Dr. Ron Gaskin, a vet in Shakopee, Minnesota, may have a way to help that. He gave 18 declawed cats who were having litter box problems a two-week course of buprenorphine, which is a painkiller. Of those cats, more than 80 percent started using their boxes normally again.

There may also be a surgery that can help declawed cats

But that’s not all. What Dr. Gaskin has noticed is that declawed cats develop hyperflexion in their declawed paws, causing club-footedness and additional pain and problems. The chronic pain that declawed cats suffer gets worse over time, and raises cortisol levels, which in turn raises the risk of diabetes. So, besides the chronic pain, there are other health issues that may be linked to declawing, even if it’s not obvious at first.

There’s a surgery that Dr. Gaskin performed on 14 cats that he calls a “declaw salvage surgery.” It’s essentially a flexor tendonectomy that helps to correct the club-footedness declawing causes.

Obviously, neither of these options creates a free pass to have your cats declawed. There’s nothing out there right now that can replace the missing bones in their toes so they can walk completely normally again. In my personal opinion, though, anything that can help declawed cats live more normal, less pain-filled lives, it’s worth noticing.

Trimming Cats’ Claws: How to Do it And Why you Should

Many of us might not think about trimming our cats’ claws. This is especially true for those whose cats are well trained not to scratch up the furniture or the drapes. However, trimming cats’ claws is an important part of keeping them well groomed and healthy. Here’s why.

Trimming cats’ claws: Protection for them and you

Admittedly, we don’t trim our cats’ claws nearly as much as we should. I’ve watched Chase play on the carpet, and sometimes, his back claws get stuck. Gizmo’s claws sometimes get stuck in blankets, and they click on the hard floors when she walks. All four of our cats have claws that get pretty sharp. With Chase and Gizmo, there’s the possibility that they could injure themselves when their claws haven’t been trimmed. This is one reason why trimming cats’ claws is so important.

Another reason why trimming cats’ claws is necessary has to do with protecting yourself. As Vetstreet points out, if you’ve got a cat that loves kneading on you, those claws are going to hurt. Kneading is one of the ways our cats show they love us and are comfortable with us, so dulling their claws by trimming them can help to make that experience much more of an enjoyable bonding experience for both of you.

Trimming cats’ claws is also a fantastic alternative to declawing. This is especially true if you’re training your cat to only scratch approved surfaces. Scratching is natural to cats, and they will do it, so it’s important that they know what they can and can’t scratch around your house. While you’re training them, though, they may still scratch your furniture, and nicely trimmed claws will help reduce the damage.

Some ways to help you trim your cats’ claws

Despite knowing why trimming cats’ claws is a good idea, it can still be a frightening prospect. A lot of cats don’t like us to play with their paws, let alone each one of their toes. Start slow, and with treats at hand. Gently touch each of your cat’s paws, and give her treats, to give her a positive association with your touch.

Don’t rush it. Make sure she’s comfortable with you handling her paws before you start clipping her claws. Because you only want to take the tip off, if you’ve got a struggling cat, you could cut too much off of her claws and hurt her, or you could end up doing worse. There has to be a certain level of trust and comfort before you try trimming cats’ claws.

If you can’t get all of her claws at once, don’t worry. Trim as many as she’ll allow, and then give her treats. Repeat the process later, until you’ve trimmed all of her claws. If this is just too much for you, and you don’t feel you can safely do this, then you can call your vet or a groomer and have them do it for you.

The bottom line is that trimming cats’ claws doesn’t just protect you and your house, it protects your cats, too. This is an important part of caring for your cat that you shouldn’t neglect.

Why Declawing Cats is Cruel and Unnecessary