Ten years ago, back when I was a younger and a freshly graduated high school student- I felt it was time to begin caring for a furry being. My mom and I walked past a local pet supplies store that was hosting a pet adoption event. I had always dreamed of owning a black cat. I love the mystery behind them, and their history held within witchcraft always coming into mind around Halloween time. I never clung on to the idea of owning a KITTEN, and never fooled myself into thinking owning one would stay that way.
The pet adoption had a variety of dogs and cats, however they happened to have a litter of black kittens bouncing playfully at each other and being sassy with potential adopters. I held each one and thought of the possibilities, at that moment I couldn't turn back. I grabbed the name of the rescue and later convinced my mother to allow me to have one. Despite still living at home, it was decided that I was allowed to have one. I was planning on moving soon, but this was an animal that could go with me anywhere and much easier than a dog. The next day I made arrangements to pick up supplies and my new kitten from her rescue.
When we arrived, I chose a female kitten that came right up to me. She didn't resist my attention and allowed me to hold her for a while. We drove home cuddling away with each other and when we got home I let her explore her new kingdom in my room. It was decided that she would stay in my room mostly because we had dogs in the family and it was easier to keep track of her that way. Then we defused what the timeline would look for her spay and declaw. Back then declaws were more normal things to have done with your cat. So I found a cheap vet, scheduled everything together and away we went when the time was right. I picked my cat up 3 days later and played nurse for the next week. She recovered perfectly and once I moved enjoyed a full apartment all to herself.
A few years later I began to notice some oozing out of one of her toes. By this time in life, I had graduated vet tech school and was finishing up my externship at a local vet's office. I brought her in and had her examined and x-rayed. It was determined that she had a bad declaw. A feline declaw can be performed in a few different ways, however the one used in my own cat's declaw was an out of date practice called a guillotine onychectomy. It involves a sterile nail clipper detaching the digit by slicing up and down. It's also the least accurate surgical tool for this procedure. Many cats that have had this procedure have bits of their leftover nail that regions from the inaccurate tool used. My cat was no exception. We hobbled along with antibiotics for awhile, then when I was more stabile financially I was able to afford her to have the digit amputated altogether. This seemed to work great until a year later.
It started by me noticing some beautiful spiral patterns in our shaggy rug. When they kept reappearing and I looked into it further, I noticed she had been urinating in those spots and trying to cover it up. I thought to myself, it's got to be behavioral and put her on a variety of medications. Then I assumed she was upset about her box and switched things up. That didn't work. Different rugs, litter types, box types, box quantities and cleanliness all did not factor. We moved into our new house a few years later and still it persisted. After some research and evaluations I came to the conclusion that she has an early onset of arthritis due to the bad declaw. It make it perfect sense why it's easier for her to use the carpet and rugs instead.
These days we make it less convenient to utilize the carpets we actively use. We use tinfoil, babygates and plastic spike pads that keeps her from stepping in certain places that she frequents. I try to keep her active with kitty trees, but ones where she can minimize her distance jumping. She's rejected the pine litter, but will only accept the clay sand in her box. She has 2 separate large sized boxes to choose from. We monitor her for further issues but so far there have been none.
I don't get angry overs choice to declaw even with all we've been through together. I've worked at the humane society and personally saw trash cans full of dead cats which crushed my soul. I think two paw/front paw declawing a young adult cat as an absolute last resort is fine, if it keeps them with their original home and not dumped off at a shelter or outside. I don't think it should be an automatic surgical option however. I wished we had waited longer or that I could have proved that she would be fine with a scratching post. But all we can do is look forward and change how we think for the future. My next cat will not be declawed in Echo's honor.