Many years ago I rescued two little ragamuffin kittens who I fell instantly and totally in love with.
When they had reached an appropriate age, I made appointments with a local veterinarian to have them spayed and front-declawed. It was what I knew to have done to cats, as my parents had these procedures done to all of our kitties growing up. It never occurred to me to not declaw my girls, and my vet at the time never said a word to me about the surgery or what it entailed.
Soon afterwards, when I started school to become a veterinary technician, I learned the awful truth regarding the declaw procedure. I think I apologized to my girls every day for the rest of their long lives for having inflicted that needless pain, fear, and suffering on them without question.
During the 20+ years I worked as a vet tech in local small animal hospitals, I reluctantly assisted in hundreds of declaws. As much as I hated the procedure, it was part of my job description to assist surgeries, and I never did find a way to get out of it. Most were front-paw declaws, but many involved declawing all four paws. The worst were the four-paw declaws paired with a spay, all done during the same surgery.
When scheduling these declaw surgeries, I never once heard a vet actually explain to a client just what is involved with the surgery. One vet calmed a worried client’s fears by telling her that the toes involved “aren’t weight-bearing” so the surgery was really no big affair, that Fluffy would be up and running around in no time.
At no time did I ever hear the declaw surgery described as the amputations that they are- that the bones are severed at those first knuckles, essentially cutting off the first sections of each toe. I never once heard a vet describe the pain or fear involved, both of which are abundant. There was no mention of the fact that after the brutal surgery, the cats- mostly kittens, were kept overnight in cages in complete darkness, with no overnight staff at the facility.
Too many times we would return to the hospital the following morning to find a freshly declawed kitten had gotten one or more of the tightly-bound bandages off those feet and had bled out all over the inside of the cold metal cage, only to have the attending veterinarian wrestle the painful kitten to a table to re-bandage those raw, open toes. Most did not sedate the kittens for re-bandages. I’ll never forget the plaintive cries.
The worst case I saw was a couple who brought their kitten in to be four-paw declawed and spayed, all at the same time. Some vets won’t do all those surgeries at once, but the vet I was working with at the time had no qualms about it. I believe he was not fond of cats in general.
The afternoon following the surgery, the kitten was sent home. She was obviously still in pain and did not want to dig in that gravelly litter box with those freshly amputated toes. When she urinated in a spot outside the litter box, the couple brought her back to have the vet address her unacceptable behavior. The kitten was a terrified mess- I was quite sure the husband had hit/beat the kitten for her transgressions as he didn’t seem to like her much from the start and was very angry about this new behavior.
The veterinarian never addressed the pain that kitten was experiencing as a factor in the inappropriate urination, but absurdly recommended we test her for a urinary tract infection. When the tests came through as negative for infection, which we all knew it would, the couple just wanted us to euthanize her.
The vet never mentioned the real reason for the kitten’s behavior, which was the horrible pain in her toes from that declaw surgery. He drew up the euthanasia solution and euthanized that sweet declawed kitten in a matter of minutes.
I cried for that kitten for weeks afterwards. I felt the pain, fear, and suffering every kitten and cat endured because of those declaw surgeries for the whole of my career.
I strongly encourage everyone considering declawing their cats/kittens to research the surgery itself as well as behavioral changes that may occur as a direct result of the declaw. Too many cats/kittens are being subjected to unnecessary pain and fear and for some, euthanasia. Do the research and explore the many other options available if you find yourselves considering this surgery.
I also highly recommend researching veterinarians when choosing one for your cat/kitten. Not all vets are fond of cats- many outright dislike them, but consider them part of the veterinary package when working in a small animal venue. Try to find a cats-only vet clinic, as you’re more likely to find a vet who genuinely loves your cat and will always do what’s best for her.
From a supporter.
Please sign my petitions to help end this inhumane and cruel procedure. http://citythekitty.org/my-petitions/