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a declawed cat and the outdoors

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm German and thinking about adopting a cat found in an animal shelter in Mallorja. The cat is the sweetest thing imaginable, but she has been declawed. As that is illegal in Germany I couldn't find anyone here who could tell me what the consequences for the cat and us are.

As a lot of American cats are declawed I hope that someone in this forum can help me. Can such a cat go outdoors? Do they bite? How about using the litter box? Any other behavioural issues? Thank you, your help is very much appreciated.
post #2 of 23
Unfortunately they would have to be indoor cats as they can't defend themselves against other cats or dogs, and can't climb trees, but you could use a harness and leash, and take them for walks. They shouldn't bite any more than other cats (I don't think they're consciously aware of the lack of claws enough to change their strategy), but I would make sure that box litter is as soft as possible, certainly for a few months after surgery, though the cat you asked about already had the operation.
post #3 of 23
A cat who has claws has less of chance for survival outside as opposed to when it is inside.

Can you imagine the survival rate of a cat who does not have claws outside?

You could have her choose her window and whichever she chooses, you could set up a bird/feeder/house outside; this will keep her occupied.

She will not miss being outside. I have a declawed cat that was a stray, the first couple of months she wanted to go outside, now she does not want to go out after I trained her. She is actually afraid of the outside because she knows inside is soooo much more loving and safer and the food is good!

O, congratulations on your new kitty!
post #4 of 23
A declawed cat can go outside but only under supervision - like on a harness/leash or in a large cat enclosure. Otherwise it has no defense if needed.

Some declawed cats may resort to fear biting because of lack of claws. Some may decide they don't want to use the litter pan and will elminate other places. But if you use the scoopable (soft) kind of litter you may not have problems.

Its a 50/50 chance on behavior/social problems with a declawed cat.
post #5 of 23
I had my cat declawed; (rather my father did bc he said if we didnt, he would throw the cat out on the street). He was COMPLETELY declawed, as in front and back ( I know they usually dont declaw the back). He had no side effects, and kept using his litterbox normally.

The only thing funny he used to do is to still pretend he had claws and pretend to scratch the couch; which didnt do anything, but still looked funny. As for the biting, when someone did something he didnt like hed generally kick bat them with his paw frantically, which ended up tickling.. which caused the person to let go of him XD. So I think he functioned fine. He always gave a warning first with his paws, then bit you, he never went to biting first.
post #6 of 23
I had two front declawed cats (declawed by previous owner) who were also indoor/outdoor cats. I agree it generally isn't a good idea for declawed cats to live outside, as their ability for self-defense has been dimished, but they can climb trees! Ashten used to take a running start and jump up the tree, using his back claws. Ashten lived until about 15 or so until we had to put him down recently due to complications with hyperthyroidism. The other cat, Siam, is still with us and mostly stays in the garage (it has a cat door). We just got a new cat who has all his claws and will not be getting declawed.

Front declawed cats can survive outdoors, but it also depends on the area that you live. We were and are lucky to live in the country with very little traffic and no stray dogs or mean people. Any future cats I get when I move out will be indoor cats though.
post #7 of 23
My cats are all front declawed rescues. The only time they get to go outside is on a harness and leash. Raven and Nabu were living outdoors for 3-4 months before I adopted them (not something their original owner was happy about because they were declawed).

Also, declawed cats in particular need a soft sandy litter. They don't walk like a normal cat--because their toes have been removed they walk on their pads. So a rough textured litter can lead to problems. I buy my cats' litter based on texture more than scent and other features.
post #8 of 23
Yeah, you can let them out on harness and leash, like littleraven does with hers. It's more like letting the cat walk you than you walking the cat, though--cats just don't walk on a leash like a dog does!

My two still have their claws, thank goodness; but that's the only time they go out, too--the traffic and generally dangerous environment in the USA is not good for outdoor cats, even ones with claws.

Declawed cats often do bite, because they've lost their defenses. But if you're consistent, calm, and gentle around them, they usually don't feel the need to defend themselves like that.

As for litter, if she doesn't like to use her box, try different sorts of litter. You could have two boxes and try different sorts, and see which she picks. Hopefully she doesn't have pain in her paws, but sometimes these cats do. In that case, you could try a newspaper based litter--just anything with light pellets that are easy to dig through.
post #9 of 23
My Sassy is 4/pawed declawed, by previous owner, and I do not allow her outside on her on. (under supervision only) She has great litterbox habits and has never went outside the box. As far as biting, she will occassionally bite unexpected, when she has had enough, but I have learned to watch for signs. Other than that she is a great kitty and I love her just the same.
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your kind and encouraging posts. I've decided that I'll adopt her. As I have a small garden I will build an electrical fence on top of the existing fence so she can't get out and no other cats can come in. The only problem will be our front door as my son is only 8 years old and tends to leave it open when he just wants to fetch something. But I've found that it is easier to train kids than cats. As he loves cats as well hopefully we'll make it work.

Tomorrow we'll go and bring her and her friend, also from this Spanish shelter (though shelter is a misnomer, they just kill the cats there), home. A young girl from Stuttgart brings a lot of these cats to Germany, cares for them till they're healthy again and then finds new families for them. She is only 14 years old but already a wonderful mature person.

Thank you again! This is a wonderful community. I'm so happy I could cry! I'll keep you informed how it all turned out.
post #11 of 23
lots of good advice here. my friend has a (front) de-clawed cat (previous owner) and struggles finding the right litter.
post #12 of 23
Hey, just one note about fences--you have to make sure they are secure at the bottom as well as the top! For this I recommend chicken wire (don't know if they sell that in your area--it's a wire mesh with about 3 cm wide holes), buried at least 6 inches into the ground; cats are quite capable of digging under even that, but being declawed, this one won't have that trouble. In your case, the chicken wire is there just so that she won't push under the fence, and other cats can't dig their way in.

One question--Are she and her friend both neutered? This is important--electric fencing won't keep a cat out if they are smelling another cat and wanting to... er, make love!

It's great to hear of a girl only 14 doing such wonderful things--that makes me feel much better about the next generation! Honestly, teen-agers are really a good source for charity work of all sorts; they are young enough and idealistic enough to give them energy and motivation; and their schooling takes up only maybe 8 hours a day (depending on homework), giving them free time. At that age, I remember sorting clothes for a place that helped poor young mothers with their pregnancies and babies--I remember being rather enchanted at all the pretty little baby things!
post #13 of 23
I would not allow the cat to roam unsupervised outside - fence or no fence (and electric fence sounds dangerous to me). Just train to a harness/leash and sit outside with the cat for awhile.
post #14 of 23
My brother lets his two declawed cats roam. They have a bad habit of killing baby bunnies. Our next door neighbors cat also goes outside (declawed). He just killed a chipmunk. It definately doesn't hurt their hunting skills.

I'm with GoldenKitty. Clawed or not, you are taking risk letting your cat outside. It is not one I am willing to take.

PS: I was just talking to my friend on the phone who lives in another state and she was complaining about neighbor's cats coming in her yard. People do not appreciate it.
post #15 of 23
Originally Posted by Larke View Post
Unfortunately they would have to be indoor cats as they can't defend themselves against other cats or dogs, and can't climb trees, but you could use a harness and leash, and take them for walks.
Actually, of my parents' two previous cats, PurrPuss could climb trees with his back claws alone. And Smog was able to defend himself quite well with his teeth and rear claws alone.

That being said, I agree that a declawed cat should be mostly indoor, and only let out under human supervision.
post #16 of 23
I will second (third? eighth?) the advise that you not let the cat outside. I know it's very common in Europe and Britain for cats to be both indoor/outdoor cats, but it's still generally healthier even for a clawed cat to be indoor only. For a declawed cat, even moreso.

A cat can still climb if it's been declawed, if given the right surface. Our kitten climbs on non-fabric surfaces by simply hooking his paw at the first joint around an edge. On a fence, like a chain-link fence? Yeah, a determined cat could get out. More importantly, a cat could get IN. Or a dog, or any other animal that wants to get at your cat. Electricity is a good deterrent, but unless there's no trees around and you make it higher than any animal could jump, another animal could get at your cat.

I'd imagine it would be worse for your cat to get its paws into the fence, start climbing, and receive a shock (and therefore probably develop a dislike for the outdoors entirely), than to simply keep it as an indoor-only cat.

As for the litterbox and other issues, from people I've spoken with it seems that those sort of behavior changes happen shortly after the surgery. My wife's parents have always had their cats declawed, as her aunt is a vet who has no qualms about doing the surgery. She does a good job and the cats seem to act no differently afterwards. I've got a friend who has a cat who she had declawed and the cat became antisocial and didn't like the litterbox anymore, and those behaviors occurred within days of the surgery. I would imagine with your cat, it would be similar -- any behaviors that she has are going to stick; she's not going to suddenly dislike litterboxes or bite more, if she isn't already.
post #17 of 23
You have gotten a lot of great information so far. I agree with others that the cat should either stay indoors or go out on a harness and leash.

Originally Posted by Larke View Post
They shouldn't bite any more than other cats (I don't think they're consciously aware of the lack of claws enough to change their strategy)
I will have to disagree here. I have nine cats and only one is front declawed. He was that was when I adopted him and he is the only cat that bites. He is very bold and if you try to shoo him away he will swat at you and if you continue he will attempt to bite. I know he is only trying to defend himself but when it comes to fight or flight, fight always take precedence with him.

He also using biting as a play factor with the other cats. He will nip and bite at them before he swats or boxes with them.

I am not saying that every declawed cat bites but some do resort to that as means of defense.

Now my mother adopted a fully declawed cat and he is the biggest sweety that never bites at all.
post #18 of 23
Front declawed cats can still climb trees but they do not have a major defense which is to defend themselves with their front claws. I think it best to have your cat as inside only with supervision if you want to let him out.

As far as biting, my cat will give you a warning swat with his front paws first with a warning vocal (no mistake when he does this). If you don't back down he will bite, but it is a warning bite and does not break the skin just enough to let you know "leave me alone". If you still come after him he will bite harder and it's kinda like a cobra, a real strike.

The husband use to play with him too rough and he would do this and than say, "The cat bit me!" Well, I would tell him he sure gave you enough warning. This is one reason that the husband is now an X!
My cat dosen't bite at all now just nibbles for attention, usually my ankles when he is hungry, it doesn't hurt.

I only had potty problems when my cat was still sore from surgery but not after.

I guess all cats are individual but it also on how you treat your cat. Before the husband came in the house (I had my cat before I got married) he did not bite at all! All cats will defend themselves if needed and a declawed cat will defend himself the best way he can.

Note: My cat was declawed 13 years ago - before I knew better to not do this. Now, knowing better I would not have declawed him.
post #19 of 23
My cat is declawed in the front (because of her previous owner, not me). She is an indoor-only cat. The only litter I've used for her so far is a mix of regular clumping clay litter and crystals and she's used it fine so far. I'm a firm believer in keeping declawed cats inside only!

My SO's family had several declawed cats while he was growing up and they were all indoor-outdoor cats. They had no problem climbing trees and killing birds and mice, and all lived to be about 20 years old. They really are the exception though I think, I don't recommend that route at all.
post #20 of 23
I think an enclosure would be fine. We had a front declawed cat when I was a child... he was indoor, but he escaped once or twice and held his own in cat fights. And he was a great climber.

And he was normal in every other way. No special litter, no biting or behavioral issues.
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
I took her and another kitty home last week and she is the sweetest and prettiest cat I've ever known. She so cuddly and she loves me and my son. She's always following me around, "talking" to me and purring when she's stroked. I'm so happy with my new family members. The other cat was very shy at the beginning (she had some very bad experiences) but now she just loves sitting on my lap. You could see she was yearning for someone to love her.

Yesterday I ordered the fence as they're both unhappy with staying indoors. They will sit on front of my French windows and meow unhappily for a long time. In my experience, once a cat has knows what it's like to be outdoors, you just can't keep it indoors. They were both abandoned and had to fence for themselves.

The electrical fence is rather like a Purrfect fence only with the added benefit that the currant will keep other cats out. The voltage is very low, just to make it uncomfortable to touch but not painful. I need this in order to keep other cats out so that my kitties are safe. And I will always be around when they're outside.

So thank you all again for encouraging me to take her. You just made my life so much richer.
post #22 of 23

I also have a declawed cat who tries to go outside all the time.  I think it really depends on whether your neighborhood is safe for a cat and doesn't have another clawed cat.  If you let your cat  go out supervision is usually  required because if your cat gets hurt it will try to mark it's territory by peeing everywhere!bigeyes.gif 

post #23 of 23

My dad had a cat that was de-clawed that went outside unsupervised and did just fine, he lived a long life. He caught birds, mice, moles etc. The other cats in the neighborhood learned to leave him alone because when he swatted at something it was more like a heavy weight boxer looking for his knock out. He also had no problems jumping up onto their 6ft fence and he seemed to find a way onto the neighbors roof. He was one of my favorite cats that I have encountered, he weighed about 18lbs and looked like a miniature black panther right down to the shorter ears and really long tail. That being said I think it has a lot to do with how young he was declawed and the age at which he was allowed to go outside. My dads cat obviously had learned how to cope without his claws.

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