How Can I Help Prevent Future Pain for My Declawed Cat ?

Iggy, an adopted, previously declawed cat
Iggy, a Declawed Cat. Photo Credit: © Mel

"I read your article on About.com regarding the cruel practice of declawing cats, and I totally agree with you.

The problem comes in because I just adopted a beautiful cat (Iggy) who, sadly, has already been declawed. He doesn't show any obvious signs of pain, and his gait appears to be fine, but I know that this could change down the line as he gets older (he is probably 2-3 years old, but I can't be sure).

Do you know of any way I can help prevent pain in Iggy's future? Perhaps a stretching exercise or toy? Is there any way to make him more comfortable that you know of? He is a lap cat and enjoys being held."

There is hope

Thank you for adopting this declawed cat, and for your concern about possible future pain and/or crippling because of his declawing.

The best to encourage stretching exercise for Iggy would be to provide him with one or more scratching posts , a nice tall vertical one and another horizontal or slanted one. Although he no longer has claws for gripping the substrate (the scratching surface,) cats' toes are very strong, and he will use them to grab and hold on. (Carpeting might be preferable to sisal for tender toes.)

For general exercise, I recommend a wand type feather toy. The universal favorite seems to be da Bird, which mimics the action of a real bird in flight. The jumping, chasing actions cats use to "catch" this bird will help keep Iggy's muscles supple and toned

Since Iggy enjoys being held, use this time to periodically inspect his feet to make sure his toes are pain-free, and that there is no sign of re-growth of the claws. Although fairly rare, claws can grow back as the result of a poor job of declawing.

Also, if he displays any sign of tenderness when you are handling his feet, it probably would be best to use one of the softer litters, since litter box avoidance is a potential problem with declawed cats.

Feline Pine makes a new scoopable litter, which is very soft in texture, or one of the paper-pellet litters might work.

Although I loathe the practice of declawing, properly managed, Iggy should live a long, pain-free life, and I laud you for helping out this kitty.