Wednesday, January 16, 2013

To Declaw or Not To Declaw?

Yes, I'm going to write a whole cat post. I'm that person:
I justify it by having a dog too... But yes, I love my cat. Many times I wonder why. 
Linus is so cute. He's now 5. When I got him I was dating V. V convinced me not to declaw the cat. That it was cruel. He sent me pictures of mangled paws, and my googling revealed that it wasn't necessary at all! I decided he was right and I left his claws alone and enjoyed my little kitten.
Oh he's so cute! Right around 1 he started scratching. A lot. He started ripping in to my leather chair and the side of my love seat I'd just gotten:
I'd yell at him. I'd swat him when I'd catch him scratching. I'd spray him with a water bottle. But it wasn't that bad... 

I asked at the vet and they suggested some hundreds of dollar pheromone spray. No way. So I lived with it and bought lots of scratching posts...

He started really making some marks on my leather chair and read about tin foil deterring scratching. 
He rolled all over it and ate the foil...
I tried buying him stupid looking, distracting, toys:



Then he started peeing on the things he didn't scratch. Pretty soon I couldn't leave any bathroom doors open because he'd pee on the bath mat and unroll the toilet paper. I couldn't leave a blanket on the couch or he'd pee on it. I couldn't leave my bedroom door open or he'd pee on the bed if I didn't make it. While peeing he was still scratching. 

I tried everything I could find in the "behavioral" section of the pet store:
He was wearing a calming collar:
While living near the plug in:

While wearing his cat Thundershirt:
While walking near furniture sprayed with this:
and while I walked around on tin foil so he didn't pee on my white rug:
Not our best time. I will say that the shirt and the plug in did work... They stopped the peeing! The scratching didn't stop though. 

He scratched through the Thundershirt:
He destroyed my bedroom chair, which inspired this project:
He destroyed the leather chair:
 (and ottoman)
And, a week in to this new couch I see a couple of marks. 
I knew he wouldn't do well with this fabric so I thought about finally getting him declawed when I got the couch. Then I decided I'd lock him in my room during the night and in the guest room where he naps while I work. He hates being locked up. This is him on the way to the vet, but the night sounds something like this:


During the day he seems fine. But then as soon as I let him out he makes a beeline for the couch to scratch...

I finally got fed up and made the appointment to get him declawed. I felt selfish for waiting so long and worried that the horror stories are true! I go to a "walk in" vet, where everything but emergencies and surgeries are walk ins. Last Wednesday I took him in to get his blood work done. I always have Wednesdays and Saturdays off, and go in later on Mondays and Tuesdays. The plan was to bring him back on Monday to get declawed and pick him up on Wednesday so that I could be home with him all day (because he is 5 they wanted to keep him 2 nights to make sure he was doing ok).

So I took him in and they grabbed him and his carrier to draw blood and told me I could hang out in the living room. A couple of min. later he was back by my side and they were asking when I'd like to schedule him. I asked if Monday was too soon and they said "you can leave him here now. If his blood work checks out we'll do the procedure in the morning and you can pick him up Friday or Saturday. I reluctantly agreed. I hadn't said my "just in case you die" goodbyes, but it might be good for all of us to just get it over with. So I gave him a wave and was on my way.

His blood work came back good and it was a go. Of course I decided then to look up mangled paws and other declaw horror stories. I was scared to death and the house was so quiet and laid back without him! I could leave doors open and cups on the counter without fear of him peeing or throwing things to the floor. But, I seriously missed the guy.

I'm not sure what I expected when I picked him up. But, I expected bloody paws, gloppy glue on them or stitches, a limping cat, crying, etc. I got none of it!
This is him about 30 min. after getting home. Not the paws, or the cat I was expecting!
They sent him home with 4 days worth of pain meds to give orally. That definitely left him stoned and out of it. Now he's off the meds, seemingly pain free, very mellow, and we are all SO happy! 
I'm kicking myself for not doing it years sooner, when recovery would've been even easier (and the procedure would've been cheaper) and I hadn't had to go through 2 couches and chairs. So... If you land on this page while having an internal debate about declawing like I did... I say go for it. I did everything I could to try to train him and curb the behavior and the only other step would've been throwing up my hands and surrendering my house to my cat or giving him away (NEITHER were an option). It's one of the hardest and best decisions I've made and we're all happier for it!

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