Originally Posted by ihugtrees
My only options are to take her back (which I'm supposed to do this afternoon) or get her declawed.
No, no, no! These are NOT your only options. I will say though, that I can really understand feeling totally over whelmed with life and how a crazy pet can make things more stressful. But these are all issues that can be worked out, relatively inexpensively I might add. If you invest the money you'd put toward having her declawed into enriching her environment and doing a bit of cat proofing, you'll have a lovely pet that doesn't make you crazy, I promise.
It sounds like you're already aware of the risks of declawing, otherwise you wouldn't be concerned about it, so I won't really "go there". Suffice to say, it's bad for the cat, and, like you said, will definitely create more issues later on (arthritis, not using the litter box, etc).
My FIRST thought when I read your post was to keep an eye on craigslist for a cat cage.
It gives you a safe place to put her when she can't be supervised and until you can figure things out. It will REALLY reduce your stress level if you can feel comfortable knowing she's not destroying things, bugging you, or endangering herself. It's large enough for a litter box, some hammocks, and a few toys. It's also big enough that she can spend a fair amount of time in there (like over night, when baby naps, etc). It's NOT a permanent solution, but it's a lot more roomy than a dog crate. Cats really don't do well in dog crates like dogs do. Dogs like tight spaces much more than cats. It sounds like you'd benefit from a cat cage, so I'd use one of these if you can find one.
I also second the recommendation to start clipping her nails short. If possible, use a dremel on her so you can round the nails a bit so they're not as sharp. They won't catch as much. I have one of these
, and I LOVE it. The dremel isn't super powerful, but it you do the brunt of the work with the actual nippers, it's plenty powerful to round out the nails. I also find it works MUCH better on the cats than the dogs, so I think it would be perfect for your needs. I bought mine at Walmart.Soft Claws
and Soft Paws
might also be REALLY good for her. They're blunt vinyl caps that you glue to your cats nails so they can't be used as weapons. They last roughly 4-6 weeks. If you don't feel comfortable doing them yourself, some groomers will trim your cats nails and apply them for you. However, it's probably worth it to learn how to apply them yourself to save some money. They're not hard to put on at all.
Most importantly, however, I would REALLY focus on giving her the appropriate outlets to scratch, play, and explore. She sounds like a cat that really needs a lot of stimulation. Have you tried a sisal
scratching post? Most cats that like to scratch really love these.
I had a Siamese who sounds much like your cat, and she would go crazy if she didn't have access to her "a-door-able"
toy. HOURS and HOURS of entertainment. She actually used to grab it, run down the stairs, let go of it, and chase it back up the stairs. She would literally be panting when she was down.
I think though, that if you trim her nails and try the nail caps, you'll feel less anxious about her behaviors because they won't be as destructive. And if she has plenty of appropriate things to keep her busy, she might leave your papers and carpets alone.
I also have a link to a good cat forum, but unfortunately I'm not allowed to post it. Feel free to PM me and I'll share it with you. The members there are really helpful and will probably have lots more ideas about training and conditioning her so that you can eliminate a lot of these behaviors.