Tuesday, August 09, 2005

No declawing

What an awful morning this has been.

I restricted Taylor's food and water last night. I woke up at the crack of dawn to drop her off for the declawing. This is after I went down to this vet in person to make sure that they would do the declawing on older cats a month ago. I'm not a declawing fan at all, hence the reason why I didn't do this when I got these cats about ten years ago.

Fifteen minutes after I get home from dropping her off, the vet calls me to tell me that she won't feel comfortable declawing Taylor since she is nine years old. She tells me that the oldest cat she has declawed is four years old and that cat had a very long recovery time due to his age. To make it worse, she then proceeds to tell me that some cats have chronic pain for the rest of their lives if they are declawed later in life. She said that if I am adamant, she will still do the surgery, but she would strongly recommend against it, and if I did want to do it, she would want to do pre-operative bloodwork in addition to the bloodwork that they already do, keep Taylor overnight while they are waiting for the results, keep Taylor another night to recover from the surgery, and then if she does Gabby and Moira (a big if), she'd want to put them on catheter IV drips while the surgery is going on since they are older so their blood pressure doesn't plummet. Oh, and yeah, the total cost of the declawing for all three cats would double to $1,200 from the original $600 that I was quoted a month ago.

All because I didn't do this when they were six months old because I was afraid of the pain it would cause them and didn't have the money to do it then. I got Gabby when I was a sophomore in college and Moira and Taylor after I first moved to Texas when I was 21. Who has that kind of money when you are a kid and just starting out?

Well, it was quite the scene on the phone with the vet. I had started crying on the way to the vet when Taylor started meowing, so it didn't take long for me to start crying after the vet was telling me about all the possible complications. P finally got on the phone and talked to her, and we decided to cancel the surgery. Even though these cats are making me a little crazy right now, I still love them to pieces and wouldn't want them to go through unnecessary pain, have trouble walking for the rest of their lives, and (this would be the worst) develop weird personality problems because they don't have their claws. All three of these cats are VERY nice and sweet...I don't want them to start being nasty or bitchy because they have pain when they walk.

After that, I got very angry, and just went down there, picked up Taylor (who was very glad to see me), canceled my appointment for Katie that I had made for later that day, and pulled all of my medical records. I had just recently switched to this vet after they told me that they would have no problem declawing cats as old as mine, and after this whole scene, I decided that they didn't deserve my business. We're going to find another vet in our town that will be happy to take care of five animals for the next ten years or so. We were with our last vet for nine years.

So, declawing is out. Next time I own cats, if I ever do again, I will get them declawed as kittens, and that's the end of it. Lesson learned.

Next alternative...and there aren't many...is Soft Paws, which are basically little vinyl caps that you put on your cats' claws and it will keep your furniture from being damaged...kind of like a leather sheath on the pointy end of scissors. It is much cheaper than declawing...a six month supply is $17.95, and it's painless, so I guess we're going to give that a try. P had said that he heard something about a surgery that could be done somewhere where the tendons to the claws are cut so the nails won't grow, but I can't imagine that we could have that done somewhere where the cats' age won't be a factor.

Anyway. Thanks to everyone for the supporting comments about declawing. I appreciate it. We're just going to investigate other options at this point and in the meantime, I'll continue to trim their claws and hopefully the Soft Paws will work so we can start replacing the furniture that the cats have ruined.


Blogger WhizGidget said...

Oh Erica... I'm so sorry. I was going to post that I supported you with the declawing idea as well because of the baby coming into the house...

{{{{hug}}}} I wish you luck with the alternatives....

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Crystal said...

Sorry to hear that they decided not to do the surgery. How awful of them to tell you first that they would, make you go through the heart ache of having to take your baby in, then have them refuse. I would be looking for a new vet too. I currently have two cats and have been doing the big debate about declawing. The foundation that I adopted them from frowns on it pretty hard (to the point where they may even revoke my adoption of them) so I have been looking into other options. I picked up a package of the soft paws for the older cat (Trudy, 2 yrs) but she doesn't like her claws being touched at all so I haven't figured out how to even get them on. I need to see if I can get someone to do it for me. But I'm not sure if she would leave them alone. Anyhoo, I hope they work for you. Keep us posted, I would really like to know if they work.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

I had my cat declawed when she was 6 months old, mostly because of her attitude. She has this habit of swatting at you when you get onto her for something......even across the face. We were ending up with scratches on our faces. I would recommend declawing when they are younger but not sure at that age.
I have heard that those Soft Paws are wonderful.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Suz said...

I had a friend who used SoftPaws and swore by them and one who they didn't work for. I don't have too many cat-people friends to offer more than that :)

I hope you find a good vet really soon. I'd be seriously miffed at the vet for not being a little more forthright to start with. It's not like she didn't have any information. Could you maybe check with your old vet for recommendations? If it helps I could email The Greatest Vet In The World Dr. Dori and ask who she would recommend from the DFW area (she's in Houston).

Good luck with the kitties! I know you are a good cat mom and you are just trying to do what's best for you and them, so lots of support from me :)

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Sorry you've had a bit of a nightmare with this.

All my cats have all their claws intact (declawing is illegal in the UK anyway), and all claw the furniture. The best solutions we've come up with are to have lumps of wood lying around the house. They won't use dedicated scratching posts, but they do like raw, untreated timber.

I've created part of the problem myself though - when they claw, I get cross with them, and throw them out of the house. So they've learned that whenever they want to be let out, all they have to do is claw the sofa! Water squirty things work on two of them, but BBC isn't bothered by that, you have to get close to him and blow on his face - he hates that!

Lakeland limited in the UK also sell sticky strips that you can attach to furniture to stop them scratching - personally I haven't tried it, but it seems like a good idea. They're called Sticky paws.
Good luck with sorting out the scratching.

6:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm sorry you had such a confusing time at the Vets. I've never heard that declawing an older cat could cause chronic pain. I wonder why that would be. I have a friend who uses Soft Paws, and thinks that they are great. I hope that they work well for you.


7:10 AM  
Blogger Heidi said...

I am so sorry that it was such an ordeal for you at the vet! I have two dogs and I know that even though some people say they are "just" animals they are a part of the family, babies in their own right! It had to be so hard for you just to take your cat to the vet for this to be done, and then all the fuss and complication besides, you poor thing!

9:19 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Extending on what the other Rachel said - try some good old fashioned double sided tap, it usually works fairly well. As does the can of pennies trick.

Other then that trying different types of scratching posts. (Ours prefer rope to carpet)

I'm not a huge fan of declawing (though I had to have one of my cats declawed because he had mental problems and was seriously hurting himself, so I do understand that there are other issues at times) and as an ex-vet tech I'm rather amazed you found a vet who even said they would do it at that age. Usually the cut off is around 3 or so for most practices (there just are so many more complications with older cats.)

Best of luck either finding a vet that works for you or finding an alternate solution!

9:25 PM  

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