another boy asked in PetsCats · 1 decade ago

declawing cats / dealing with spooked cats?

my question is basically has two parts. About six months ago, my partner and I adopted a male cat from a shelter here in the local community. Mr. T. is 2 1/2 years old, and his motor skills are handicapped - aka - the portion of his brain is underdeveloped, and he is unable to walk normally, can't jump on furniture taller than 2 feet, and often times runs into walls. We love him very much, but lately he's been acting very jumpy. Anything and everything seems to spook him these days.

When Mr. T. gets spooked his claws come - he has not been declawed. Twice now, once with me and once with my partner, he has scratched us hard enough to send us to the hospital. Thankfully he hasn't caused any harm to our kids yet.

Question 1: What causes cats to get spooked? Nothing in our daily lives has changed since we picked him up, and it's been only the last 2 weeks that he's been acting "crazy," and we have never abused him. He continues to crave attention from us.

Question 2: Is declawing the next option? We've tried all other alternatives: soft paws, scratching rugs, scratching posts (he doesn't scratch at the furniture thank goodness!), but his scratching is causing serious harm to others.

Again, he's 2 1/2 years old, so it might be too late to have him declawed. Are there any other solutions? We don't want to send him back to the home where we picked him up, but unless we can stop the bleeding, we might not have any other choice. Help!

Update:

Thanks for all of your supportive and detailed suggestions. My partner and I talked, and yes we've agreed that declawing is not the best answer. We'll continue to monitor his behavior and hope for the best.

Because ours is not a busy house-hold, he gets plenty of down time all to himself during the day. Because he yearns for attention and petting, he'll continue to get those. Because he does well with the Soft Paws, we'll continue to use those. Because he loves the kids, he'll continue run after them. Because we've never changed his diet (even from when we brought him home initially), we'll stick to it.

The suggestion of joing a CH group is an excellent suggestion. I never considered something like that. We'll be able to learn what we can about providing the best care he needs.

Thanks for all the advice!

13 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Having this cat declawed would send him totally over the edge, he'd be in pain physically and mentally and at his age,with his problems, totally confused, and 99% certain to start biting you.A cat bite is far worse than a scratch, a bite can even break a person's finger.He'd be 99% certain to start messing in the house too. Because of the pain in their stumps many cats can't dig in the litter at first and the memory of that first agonizing pain stays with them forever so they continue messing on carpets and soft furnishings.You can't risk either the biting or the messing as you have kids around.Besides that, declawing a cat is very cruel,it's actually amputating the toe ends and claws and not many vets will do this operation any more.

    Something must have spooked him about 2 weeks ago, as you said he started acting crazy then. It could even have been something outside and as you say he is handicapped, it would affect him more than a normal cat.So it may hopefully be that he only needs time to get over whatever trauma is was, then he will settle down again.

    When he goes a bit crazy, talk to him a lot, just quietly,using his name, try to be very calm around him.

    You have taken a lot on with taking him in and it would traumatise him even more taking him back to the shelter, but better that than declawing him as once that's happened, he would have no chance of another home.Shelters are already full of declawed cats with behavioural problems which started after the operation and most are condemned to die because they are unrehomeable.

    I hope he settles down again soon.

    Source(s): retired vet nurse
  • Babz
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    If Mr T has problems with walking and jumping already then declawing him will probably have him off his paws altogether, declawed cats do not have the same balance as clawed cats so his is your first problem.

    secondly he's already a "special needs" cat with his brain condition, declawing would more than likely permanently traumatise him or may even lead to him becoming completely aggressive and uncontrollable, he will quite likely bite you instead of scratching you and this is far worse and more serious.

    Keep a close eye on him and the children, make sure you supervise them when they're together and try and keep the house calm, no shouting or squirting him with water

    Try and think back to what has spooked him and see if it's something you can put right, is there something in the garden blowing in the wind or making a strange noise or a visiting cat or dog

    Finally if it comes down to a choice between returning him to the shelter or declawing him then please return him and let him have a chance of a life with someone else who doesn't have children, please don't cripple this already disabled cat

    This is what could happen to his paws http://clawsforever.ning.com/group/advicebureau/fo...

    Source(s): 35 years of cats
  • 1 decade ago

    Your cat has obviously been very spooked by something and being special needs he is still very traumatised a fortnight later. Did anyone come into your house who would hurt or frighten him ? Or did anything happen outside, like a loud bang ?

    Give him time to settle down again.Declawing him would be very cruel,believe me you'd end up with much worse problems. OK a scratch isn't nice but as someone else already said, a bite is much worse ! I'd suggest a check up at the vets but the journey might freak him out even more.

    I think I'd give him time, don't pick him up or let the kids play with him, give him some space and see how he goes.

    I do agree that although it would be awful to take him back to the shelter, better that than declawing him as at least with claws he has chance of another home.

    Source(s): cat psychology
  • 4 years ago

    AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH. I sympathise with your predicament, and I'm probaby going to end up with a beast of a cat myself for saying this but..... No to declawing. There are many other options, so don't give in to it! A quick squirt of water will teach many a cat what's acceptable and what's not. Also, unless you live in a busy area, maybe let the cat outside if you can? (if he's castrated). It might help work off some of his energy and distract him a little! I'm a veterinary nurse and I've been in surgery with a lot of cats. They are MASTERS at hiding pain - they only show it if they're in AGONY, it's a natural survival strategy. it's not just that tho, I'm morally against any surgical procedure that isn't necessary for the cat's health. Which i recognise may so in this case... I can't speak for America, but in England there are plenty of cat charities that would NEVER destroy a healthy cat, there must be in America too! Also call a vet for advice, they're all familiar with this problem! And it wouldn't hurt to get kitty checked in case there's a medical reason he's started lashing out. It's probaby behavioural tho. Really hope you get this sorted, it sounds like a right bummer. Chalice

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  • 1 decade ago

    The spooking could be from his brain, it could be degenerating and losing even more function over time.

    Unmfortunately, declawing has been shown to cause this type of thing to ge worse - the cat will be aware that his defence is gone, and will resort to biting, and will act out in other ways, ie defecating and urinating all over the place, etc. Believe me, it causes far more problems than you can think of. It is a very high risk (most shlters I have contacted reported this fact, not just a few single owners).

    Clip his claws.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    No, declawing really isn't an option, with his already unstable temperament he could become a biting fury once the pain and confusion of the amputation of ten toes kicks in. He will also be even less able to balance for walking, jumping and using his litter tray.

    He's obviously highly strung and you're going to need to be calm around him and make sure he has plenty to do to fill his time, toys, scratching posts, grass etc. If you know what causes him to scratch you then avoid it, some cats don't like being stroked or tickled in certain areas of their bodies, some cats like it for a short while but then get tired of petting.

    One of my cats is fine unless someone puts their face too close to him then he lashes out, it might be a reaction to someone frightening him in the past or he might just think we're all ugly, but we have to respect it and we've learned to keep our faces away.

    Please just persist a while longer with kindness and keep an extra close eye on him with the kids.

    Source(s): Aunty to many cats
  • 1 decade ago

    Cats often get spooked for...well pretty much any reason. They're anxious creatures to begin with (hyper alert).

    declawing...unfortunately...is something i could not ever reccomend. it is the equivalent of cutting all of your finger tips off to the first knuckle. It does bad things to the cat psychiatrically.

    They do sell this stuff that I have tried for my cat which works really well...as far as calming him. It's called Feliway Comfort Zone ...and it comes as both a room spray and a room diffuser (like a glade plug-in). I have had excellent results with my cat. The spray is feline facial pheremones which calm the cat naturally. It has worked wonders for mine.

    I'll include a link below.

  • MBL
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Do not declaw him! He will only resort to biting. plus, u know how much it hurts to have a fingernail fall off, I mean the whole thing and boy it hurts. A declawed cat would be in danger if it escaped. Claws are their way of defending themselves and climbing trees. Buy him a catnip mouse to scratch and claw. Don't declaw him.

  • From your description of his poor motor skills, it sounds like Mr. T. has Cerebellar Hypoplasia. If he is a CH cat, then declawing him would leave him even more physically handicapped. He needs those claws to help him balance, provide stability whilst grooming and prevent himself from slipping off high places. If something unknown, has caused him to be on the offensive, he may resort to biting instead. It's much better to try and figure out what might have spooked him, and remove or alleviate the source of his distress. If Softpaws haven't worked, have you tried trimming his claws to minimise their potential for accidental injury? This article has helpful advice on how to do that.

    http://www.catscratching.com/htmls/article.htm

    It's impossible to know for sure what might have spooked him, but it could be cats or wildlife outside. Did you have any new (or loud) visitors at your home recently? As someone has already suggested, a Feliway diffuser may prove helpful as they emit an aroma that cats find very soothing. A lot of cat owners also have great success using Bach Flower Essences to treat emotional problems in cats. This article explains which ones to use and how to administer them.

    http://www.rainbowcrystal.com/bach/floweran.html

    If Mr. T. is a CH cat, you might find it helpful to join one of the on-line clubs for owners of such cats. Perhaps someone else has experienced similar behaviour and can offer advice on this situation.

    http://www.chkittyclub.com/pages/chcare.html

    http://www.petpeoplesplace.com/resources/articles/...

    Hope this helps.

  • 1 decade ago

    Hi there,

    It sounds like your cat may have what is called, "Cerebellar Hyposplasia", which causes this spastic behavior. which can result in slipping, trying to catch hold with their claws and then attempting to haul themselves back up again. You might want to join support group for cats with CH at: http://www.chkittyclub.com/pages/home.html

    It is very important for a CH cat to keep their claws, as they are essential for them to pick themselves up, and a way for them to be able to feel more secure. Without their claws they will be further disabled, and miserable. so this is really not an option at all for your cat. I suggest you contact the group for more ideas what would be best for your cat, you and your partner to prevent him from scratching you. In fact, without his claws he may develop worse coping methods, using his teeth or just getting so frustrated and insecure that he will become a very hard to handle cat.

    I also suggest that you consult with your veterinarian about this behavior as it may have something to do with his condition. This is, after all, a neurological condition, which may contain other features that may cause him to "spook". He also may not be really spooking, but feeling insecure about his balance, and fearful that he is going to fall. Whenever a cat's behavior changes radically and is a departure from his regular behavior, it is time for a vet to be consulted. Of course, if he is getting spooked for whatever reason that more than likely is connected with his neurological condition, his claws would come out as he is losing his balance and feeling of safety.

    From what I have read about this condition, actually, the suggestions are not to use soft paws on these cats, because they need their claws to right themselves, and to be able to get around feeling more secure.

    I think you will find your answers at that website for CH cats and support that is far more helpful, from people who are living with these kitties.

    Thank you so much for adopting Mr. T. Many of these cats with CH are euthanized unnecessarily. They can be wonderful pets, but support is always a great idea to learn little tricks and strategies to make everyone's life easier and safer.

    Hope this helps,

    Troublesniffer

    Owned by cats for over 40 years

    Member: Cat Writer's Association

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