Many, many thanks to our friend Barry for this saga. Unlike most pet parents and veterinarians, he was astute enough to truly see and understand what declawing has done to his adopted kitty, Spark. I asked him to share his experience to all of our readers, and we are proud to present it here.
I have had pets my whole life. Most often that has been cats or dogs, but growing up on a farm I learned respect for all life. I take the responsibility of pets very seriously. I educate myself on their health issues, I limit their intake of medications and vaccines, I only use flea medication as a last resort, I have a cat enclosure that allows them to go outside, and I feed cats a species-specific homemade raw diet approved by a veterinarian. Needless to say, I love animals and respect them as self-directed sentient beings.
One of my two current cats is a beautiful, very fit 18-pound male named Spark. Of all of the pets I have had, he is probably the most affectionate. He’s by my side wherever I go in the house. He is also declawed. He was already declawed when I adopted him. It has been an interesting experience that saddens me greatly. In fact, there’s not a day that goes by when I watch him walk that I don’t think about the cruelty of declawing cats. To be honest, I was completely ignorant of what declawing really is until I adopted him. I certainly am ignorant no more.
I understand a little about muscular-skeletal dysfunction, and I see so much of it Spark. (Essentially it’s an imbalance in our muscles and skeleton, usually created through injury.) It is obvious to me that declawing changes the neurological balance or the firing sequence of muscles in the front legs, similar to Morton’s Toe in humans. In humans, that dynamic can lead to a forward head, distended upset stomach, terrible migraines, back muscle problems, spinal problems, constipation and the like. This all starts with gait problems, and the effects are often misdiagnosed or treated symptomatically rather than holistically.
I have had Spark for ten years now. And, while he is still active, he experiences regular pain, and his tolerance threshold for being petted or touched on certain parts of his body is now very low. And, while I don’t know if he experiences headaches, he does have a very forward, dropped head when he walks, and that has put incredible pressure on his spine and back muscles. He regularly has an upset stomach and refuses food. Now he suffers from severe constipation. He has what would almost be classified as a Dowager’s hump in his front shoulders, and his spine looks like a roller coaster. His front and hind legs are off limits to touch because of his pain.
Understanding movement disorders and how muscular-skeletal problems manifest themselves with these types of symptoms, I am completely confident that literally all his symptoms are because he was declawed. And that declawing has caused deterioration of the muscular-skeletal system, and put pressure on his internal organs and nerves. For example, I know with complete confidence that his constipation is caused by a hypertonic or overly tight pelvic floor caused by skeletal imbalance.
As someone who has degrees in the sciences, I am quite confident of these statements because I am able to ameliorate all of them to some degree with myofascial release and mild acupressure techniques. Sometimes touching one area causes problems in other areas, but ultimately he is able to experience some relief for some period of time. As an example, through light touch or very light manipulation, I am able to relieve the constipation to the point where he becomes regular again. But, that may cause stomach upset. Oftentimes it’s a series of touches over a period of days that can offer some relief when his pain becomes too intense.
It breaks my heart to see him in pain and suffering. All of that is because of our cumulative ignorance in allowing such an inhumane treatment to be legal. There is no humane way to declaw a cat. If we are going to allow pets in our homes, we need to accept them as they are. The suffering that declawing causes could never justify the procedure.
- To find out what you can do to help relieve a declawed cat’s pain and stress, please see “Relief for Declawed Cats.”
- To learn more about the science of declawing, download our free ebook, “Cat Lover’s Anti-Declawing Handbook.”
- To help us end declawing in the United States, please visit and support the Paw Project.