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Need help quick--should I declaw my cat or give her back to the shelter?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I know how horrible that title sounds, so please hear me out! I've always been against cat declawing AND giving your pet up for stupid reasons. However, I feel like this cat may be an exception to the rule. I've had many cats in my lifetime, my husband has had many cats in his lifetime, and out of them all, she is the sweetest AND the most neurotic! I adopted her a few months ago, and she claws everything. Jackets hanging up, curtains--she pulls laundry out of the basket and plays with it with her claws, which means she's put holes & pulls in dozens of items of clothing. She pulls papers off the table and bats them around, claws tearing up the paper. It's nearly impossible to cat proof AND baby proof! She also meows at my door all night (I can't sleep with her in the room with me), so I put her in the second bedroom at night. She is DESTROYING the carpet and door. It is berber carpet, so she has pulled the threads out, and actually lifted the carpet to the point that the studs on the floor are showing for several inches. Every night she is in there, she does more damage. She has also scratched up the door very badly. I am in a rental and she is destroying it--something I cannot afford.

She has also used my bed as a litter box several times, but I have read that this was a solvable issue that usually had a cause (such as a medical cause.) She gets on the counters and table, too, and eats food off my plate if I don't watch it carefully, but these are things I'm willing to work with her on.

So I've talked to the shelter and they are willing to take her back (no kill) but I am so hesitant because I love her. She is the sweetest, most affectionate and cuddly cat I've EVER met. She LOVES my daughter, and my daughter loves her. In the morning, she crawls to the cat and the cat runs to her and the cat gets in her lap and my daughter (11 months) pulls on her ears and lays her head on her and pulls her tail and tries to eat her face. So I hate to do this, and I don't want to.

My only options are to take her back (which I'm supposed to do this afternoon) or get her declawed. However, I know that declawing is painful and can create more problems, so would it be more humane to send her back to the shelter? I fear that her little idiosyncrasies will get her sent back to the shelter the next time she is adopted, too.

Please be kind! I am a stressed out mama who just moved 3000 miles away from my family and friends, and I am on my own right now, as my husband is off on a ship with the Navy...AND I'm getting NO sleep because of my human baby...so I'm just at the end of my rope with this situation. I think if I was in a different situation I'd be sooo much more patient and could work this out but right now I feel like the cat is making me crazy.
post #2 of 16
Have you tried softpaws?

How often do you clip her nails?
post #3 of 16
First, I would research any othet options. Talk to vets, other cat owners, ect. If you cannot find any options that work then I would talk to the shelter in depth about what the will do. If the shelter is willing to work hard to find kitty a home that will work with issues and keep her then she would be best there. If the shelter is just going to put her up for general adoption then your probably right-the next home will most likely abandon her too. In that cast I would consider declaw because it sounds like the only option left. I feel very strongly against declawing but just like anything else it may be the kinder option.
post #4 of 16
You can actually cut a cat's nails very short without cutting the quick. Might have to wrap her up like a burrito to get it done, but it's worth a shot.

Also look into the soft paws!
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ihugtrees View Post
My only options are to take her back (which I'm supposed to do this afternoon) or get her declawed. However, I know that declawing is painful and can create more problems, so would it be more humane to send her back to the shelter? I fear that her little idiosyncrasies will get her sent back to the shelter the next time she is adopted, too.
Those aren't your only options. I would never return a cat because it scratches-it's a cat! I would clip it's nails and use softpaws if you have to. But scratching is part of caring for any pet (trust me, even iguanas!) and declawing is nothing short of inhumane. There are never exceptions. I don't want to sound mean saying it, but research declawing and you will see that you will likely end up with worse behavioral issues and a traumatized and mutilated cat.

I would *never* declaw. And I've had at least 40 cats in my lifetime. Nothing some cat nail clippers can't fix. Even the vet will do it for you to show you how short you can do it (shorter than you think-I was really surprised!).
post #6 of 16
Have the vet show you exactly how much you can cut off her nails and get some soft pawas as well.

Another option instead of letting her tear up the room put her in a dog crate if you have to at night. Better than the alternative by far.
post #7 of 16
I use toe nail clippers rather than those animal clippers, doesn't make a scary noise and IMO a lot faster.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharlla View Post
I use toe nail clippers rather than those animal clippers, doesn't make a scary noise and IMO a lot faster.


I always use human nail clippers for my cat. I can tell better what I am doing and have better control.
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ihugtrees View Post
.

Please be kind! I am a stressed out mama who just moved 3000 miles away from my family and friends, and I am on my own right now, as my husband is off on a ship with the Navy...AND I'm getting NO sleep because of my human baby...so I'm just at the end of my rope with this situation. I think if I was in a different situation I'd be sooo much more patient and could work this out but right now I feel like the cat is making me crazy.
If you have to bring your cat back to the shelter, I would say it's because of this. It sounds like you are overwhelmed and maybe this isn't the right time for you to have any cat right now, let alone one with 'issues'. Your daughter is so young, I don't think it will do her any real harm! You could get a cat later, when she's older and you aren't so stressed out.

Don't get her declawed. That can cause all sorts of other issues, including more litter box issues! If you want to keep her- I like soft paws, but for my scratch-happy cat they come off pretty often but they are easy to put on.

Good Luck!
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ihugtrees View Post
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.
post #11 of 16
When I was a little girl, my mother had all of our kitties declawed. They had some urinary issues, mostly later in life. But it beat death in a high-kill shelter, which is where my stepdad was going to take them if we didn't have them declawed.

You've got a no-kill shelter, though. How did she do there? I know my crazy kitty was aggressive in an environment with many other cats and fewer places to hide. I think you have to decide what's best for your kitty and, of course, realize that the toileting issues may be made worse by de-clawing.
post #12 of 16
What everyone else said and, maybe, one of those Feliway plug-in diffusers? In case some of the behaviour is stress related. You could also talk to the vet about stress, she may benefit from some short term medication if there is a large stress component.
post #13 of 16
Do you have outlets for her scratching? First thing I would look into is a good scratching post, one of those cardboard scratchers, and various other things she could use. To me it sounds like she might be bored! I wouldn't suggest this for you since you have enough on your plate, but adopting two cats together can help avoid things like this. Of course there can still be problems, but the cats tend to play with each other instead of your stuff.

One option you might want to look into is contacting a local cat rescue (not shelter) who runs through foster homes. If you're willing to keep the cat in your home for a while, they may be able to find a new family for your cat without having her sit in a shelter inbetween. They'd also make sure that the new family would be aware of all her issues so she doesn't end up being returned again. It might be the nicest option for the cat if you can't keep her.
post #14 of 16
I'm having scratching issues, too. We just this morning took her to the vet to get her nails clipped because she would not let us mess with her paws. No way, no how, not getting near her feet. The vet used a dremel (I'm thinking it was one of those Pedi-Paws things, DH didn't know the name) to get her nails short, and then we're going to put Soft Paws on her. Already have them at home, just have had the nail issues so haven't been able to do it yet. The vet said to do 2 toes, let her go, a little while later grab her and do another 2 toes, etc. If you don't have another set of hands you can use, ask your vet or a groomer if they could help you out with the trimming and capping. I honestly don't think I'd be able to do it alone, I'd need a helper.
post #15 of 16
Hey there. Soooo sorry for all your struggles. It is tough having kitties and kids and moving and all that. Having fostered 80 cats, we can relate to the struggles of cats taking over. Ugg.

I would echo some other folks - that you do have other options if you are up for it. I think one that might work really well is just clipping her nails. We do this with our cats and you have to do it about every week or two, but they can't do too much damage with such dull nails.

We haven't tried the little tip things you put on them, but that might work too.

If you feel like there are no other options besides returning her or declawing, I would return her. Declawing is similar to removing the first joint of human fingers and can cause the cats ongoing pain for the rest of their lives. I don't think it is ever really a good option.

Best of luck! Smiles, Elizabeth
post #16 of 16

So I know I will get hate mail for this but...we adopted a cat that had been in the shelter for 5 months.  She was on her last day, having been surrendered by her previous owner.  We adopted her to save her...but quickly found out why she had been surrendered.  She clawed everything!  2 sofa's...2 bedspreads and basically a house full of carpet later were at our wits end.  Then my in-laws came over and left with holes in their clothes.  She had a scratching post...$300 dollars worth...nails trimmed by the vet...soft paws...we tried everything.  It was declawing or going back to the shelter...which she was well known at and that would be the end.  So we payed 200 dollars...spent a day at the vet.  It was the best thing we ever did.  She no longer claws anything...she's great with the kids because she can't scratch them.  She can sit in your lap and knead all day long with no problem.  She has a happy home...no more fear of the shelter...it saved her life.  She limped around for about a week after it was done...but the vet gave us pain meds and she really just slept.  I think she got better pain meds than some humans get with amputations.  So if it's a shelter or declawing...you know what my answer is.  (the only draw back being that she is now an inside cat for life...but that's ok with her).

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