So, your cat is declawed: maybe it was done prior to adoption; or a landlord or family member may have insisted on declawing, your veterinarian may have talked you into it, or you just didn’t know at the time how physically and psychologically damaging declawing is. But at this point the damage is done, and it is irreversible. Now what?
Fortunately, there are things you can do for a declawed cat to help relieve pain and improve quality of life.
1. If you think your cat may be experiencing declaw pain, it is not enough to simply give the cat a painkiller. There is a detailed protocol available for this unique type of pain (see Chronic Pain of Declawing for more information, including the most common signs of declaw pain). At the very least, a therapeutic trial with gabapentin, an anti-seizure medication, is called for. It is a safe, inexpensive drug that could provide major relief; and if it is at least partially effective, that would be a good rationale for going through the whole formal protocol.
2. The meridian therapy EFT can be very helpful in relieving pain as well as psychological effects (such as anger, frustration, sadness, depression, guilt). Click here to read an amazing article on using EFT for declawed cats.
3. Energy work is extremely important. Reiki is excellent for this. Also, I’ve heard of a few healers that have experimented with energetically “rebuilding” cats’ paws. (Sorry, I don’t know of anybody in particular who does this, but many energy healers may be willing to try.)
4. Flower essences are wonderful for overall healing, alleviating both physical and psychological pain, and helping with behavioral issues that may arise from declawing. Spirit Essences has a special “Declaw Remedy” designed specifically for this purpose.
5. Homeopathy may be helpful. For example, the homeopathic remedy Hypericum is specific to pain in fingers and toes. A high potency may be needed; please consult an experienced homeopathic veterinarian for guidance on the correct remedy, dosage, and timing.
6. Massaging and stretching the toes and paws to minimize tendon contraction; this may also prevent the arthritis that commonly develops over time.
7. Flexor tendonectomy salvage surgery is an option for painful cats, cats with bone fragments (a common problem that occurs due to poor surgical technique), or those who develop behavioral problems as a result of declawing. Your veterinarian can read this reference: Cooper MA, Laverty PH, Soiderer EE. Bilateral flexor tendon contracture following onychectomy in 2 cats. Can Vet J. 2005 March; 46(3): 244–246. Dr. Ron Gaskin of Main Street Veterinary Service is currently performing this surgery with 100% postive results. See this powerpoint presentation about this surgery.
Sadly, nothing can reverse the physical damage of declawing, but at least we may be able to help declawed cats feel better and be happier despite it.