Walk Through a Declaw Surgery with a Kitten

Walk through a declaw surgery with a kitten.

When I was 8 weeks old, my human mom took me to a strange place. There were lots of cleaning smells, and I could also smell dogs and cats; some of them were scared, I think. My mom called it the vet's office. The doctor was very nice; she scratched me and played with me a little bit. She poked me a couple of times too, but that wasn't too bad. Then I got to go home. I was a little tired, but by that afternoon, I was running and playing and feeling normal.

The Morning of Surgery

So, when Mom took me to the vet's office when I turned 12 weeks old, I thought it would be another visit like that. I was scared when Mom left, and the vet put me in a cage. She gave me a soft bed and a litter box, but I was still nervous, and I trembled.

Soon, someone came and got me out of the cage. They used a loud machine to take the hair off my front leg, and then they washed my leg with some strong-smelling cleaner. I was really upset about that because the noise was scary, they held on to me very tightly, and the cleaner smell burned my nose. Then they poked my leg, and I don't remember anything for a while.

Surgery Time

I must have gone to sleep because the next thing I remember, I was back in the cage. I felt really groggy and out of it. I couldn't seem to control my tongue, and I couldn't stand up. After a few minutes, I realized that my front paws hurt really badly. I started to cry and thrash around, and a human came and comforted me. She poked me with something, too, and after a while, my paws hurt less, but they still hurt, and it wasn't long before they hurt just as badly again. I cried and thrashed around, and I guess I must have bashed my paw into the cage because it started bleeding. I decided to try and climb the front of the cage to get away from the pain, and that's when I realized that my claws weren't working. In fact, that's where the blood was coming from; my claws were gone, and that's why my paws were hurting so much.

While this kitty was under anesthesia, all 10 front toes were declawed, meaning that the toes were amputated at the first joint. Declaw surgery is not similar to trimming your fingernails; it is an amputation surgery. In fact, it's 10 amputation surgeries.

Post-Surgery

There wasn't anybody around anymore; I guess the humans had gone home. That was a truly miserable night for me. I cried and cried, and I couldn't sleep at all. My toes hurt worse and worse as the night went on. There was nothing I could do, and I could hardly stand it.

When the humans came back in the morning, they got me out of the cage and cleaned me up. They wrapped the paw that was bleeding in a bandage, and that hurt so much. They gave me another shot, and I started to feel a little better, but the pain never went all the way away.

I stayed at the vet clinic for a couple of days, and my paws started feeling better, but they still ached a bit all of the time. They were nice to me at the vet clinic, always talking to me when they went past my cage and petting me when they had time. They took the bandage off my paw and made sure my litter box was always clean. But the stuff inside the litter box wasn't my regular litter, and I didn't like it. The box always smelled bad.

Home Again

My mom came to pick me up, and I was so happy to see her. She took me home, and I thought everything would be all right. But the same paper stuff was in my litter box at home, and it made me want to stay away from it. When I did try to go into the box and paw around, my feet hurt a lot. I decided that the litter box was making my paws hurt worse, so I went beside it on the carpet instead.

I jumped up onto the couch where I used to snuggle with my mom. I tried to walk along the sofa arm like I always did before, but my balance wasn't the same as it used to be, and I fell. Now I don't get on the couch to snuggle anymore because I'm afraid of falling.

After about a week of being home, my mom took me back to the vet's office because I was having a problem with one of my toes. It was hurting even worse than the others, and it had gotten swollen. The vet said it was infected, and I had to go on antibiotics. The medicine tasted awful, and I was really mad at my mom for the whole week I had to take it. Then I got diarrhea and had to go back to see the doctor again. She said that antibiotics give cats diarrhea sometimes and gave my mom another medication to fix it. That one tasted awful, too, and I was mad at my mom for another week.

Declaw surgeries carry a high rate of post-surgical complications such as opening of the incision sites (because cats must bear their body weight on them), infection, and pain. Lesser-known consequences include life-long litter box aversions.

Aftermath

I'm a year old now, and I'm doing a little bit better. I still limp sometimes when my toes get to hurting. When the weather changes, I notice it the most. I also still have a litter box problem. The litter in my box is back to normal, but I guess the habits I developed when there was paper in there are kind of hard to break. I'm also a little scared of the box still because of how much my paws hurt when I tried to use it right after my surgery. It makes me sad because my mom gets mad at me for using the floor instead of the box.

I also can't balance like I should be able to, and jumping down from things always gives me a jolt of pain in my toes. I just do a lot less of that kind of active stuff than I would if I had my claws.

Cats are digitigrade, meaning they walk and balance on their toes, unlike humans, who are plantigrade, walking and balancing on the soles of their feet. Declawing cats severely affects their balance and makes falling injuries a bigger risk.

I can't mark my territory with my claws like I should be able to, so that stressed me out when Mom brought home a new kitten. I developed even more of a problem with urinating around the house then because it was the only way I had to mark my territory and feel better about the new cat.

I love my mom, and I know she would never hurt me on purpose, but I really wish I still had my claws and no pain.