The Truth About Declawing
(and litter box problems)
The scenario is this: We find a cat who has been left outside or dumped, looking haggard and ill, and we take her in. We realize she has no claws and could not forage for herself outside. We take a few cats off of death row at a shelter and find that they, too, have no claws, and that they were turned in for litter box problems. I talk to other rescuers who have taken declaws, and many of them are not using the litter box. Over 80% of the people I counseled about giving up cats in the summer of 2001 were having litter box problems. All of these cats had been declawed. (Be sure to read about FUS, a medical condition, if you are having litter box problems.)
Declawing not only is unnatural and leaves a cat defenseless (what if she sneaks out and disappears for a few days?), but it is painful. For some, this discomfort never goes away and using a litter box becomes painful. You’d have some discomfort, too if someone cut off the digits of each finger at the first joint. Many vets will not tell you any of this, even if you ask. Yet, there are other vets out there who completely refuse to declaw because they believe it is unnatural and cruel. To read more about the procedure follow this link. To see a vet’s point of view, read this.
So what can you do if your cat is already declawed and having litter box problems? Try using shredded newspaper for litter. Of course, you will probably have to do some retraining; for more information on that, click here.
What is the alternative to declawing? The most obvious answer is to train your cat to use a scratching post. For information on training your cat to use a scratching post, click here .
If you’ve already declawed your cat, don’t panic. We learn through our mistakes, and if vets don’t give us all the information, then declawing will continue to happen. Companion animal care is a lot like human medical care these days—we have to seek out the information on our own because one doctor cannot give all points of view on any one thing. What you can do now is spread the word to your friends about declawing, about this informational part of our website, and be patient with your cat if he does have any resulting problems from this procedure. As a final note, I’d like to recommend a great book about behavioral problems with cats. I will mention this book over and over again on this website because the book covers so much and it has gotten me through years of fostering cats with problems. Twisted Whiskers: Solving Your Cat’s Behavioral Problems by Pam Johnson, Feline Behavior Consultant is a book that anyone who has a companion cat should own.
Want more information on declawing? I’ve compiled some helpful links below:
by Victoria M. King