In January of 2000 it was time to get my baby boy, Frenchie, neutered and vaccinated. Up to this point, I had never really thought much about declawing cats. I just knew that it was something that I would not do to my pets.
I had acquired my first cat, Jasmine, about a year and a half before, when I was still living at home with my grandmother. She was not thrilled that I had brought home a kitten, and wanted me to declaw to protect her furniture. Without giving it much thought I refused, because I just didn't like the idea. Thank God, she respected my opinion and it was the end of the story.
But then it became time for Frenchie to visit the vet. He was about nine months old and we were afraid he was going to start spraying soon. I had moved away to college, so I needed to find a new vet. I called Four Spring Vet Clinic on recomendation from a co-worker. I made the appointment for Frenchie, and when asked if I wanted him declawed, I said no.
I took him in at 8 in the morning for his surgery, and was to be back to pick him up at four. One of the reasons why I chose this vet was because they did not keep the pets overnight. Frenchie and I hadn't been away from each other one night since I got him when he was eight weeks old.
When I went to pick him up I discovered he had been declawed. They did not even realize they had made the mistake, it was when I saw him that it was discovered. The vet 'had it in her head he was supposed to have been declawed.' It was not written on his chart wrong, or anything else. She just didn't double check before she mutilated him.
When I saw him in the cage with his paws covered in white gauze, I collapsed right onto the vet's floor. I picked him up out of their cage and held him on the floor with me and just cried to him how sorry I was that they did that to him. I don't really remember a lot from being in the vet's after that. Obviously, she felt bad about her mistake, but I don't think she understood why I was so upset. All eight of their cats were declawed. She tried to tell me it wasn't that bad, her cats still climbed trees and brought home mice.
Well, I don't give a damn what her cats can do without their paws. Having Frenchie mutilated without my permission made me feel as completely violated and helpless as I am sure every declawed cat feels. Frenchie is still the same loving cat he was before, but no one can tell me that declawing didn't change him, or that he does not remember the surgery, or having claws before it. He is not a biter, as many declawed cats are. I attribute that to my love and patience with him. But we used to fall asleep with each other while I massaged his paws every night. He no longer sleeps in bed with me and will no longer tolerate having any of his paws touched (only the front were declawed). When he tries to use their scratching posts, he just slides down them to the floor without be able to scratch or stretch. Often when his paws hit the ground he will look around with a quizzical look on his face. And a hundred other little things every day that are different and that have fundamentally changed our lives.
I am now very against declawing and dedicated to educating as many people as possible about the horrors of this procedure. Unfortunately, the choice was not ours to make for Frenchie and myself. However, many other pet owners are not making informed decisions. Some people get angry with me when I challenge them about declawing their cats. Other pet owners have broken down and cried when I told them what declawing entailed and they realized what they had put their beloved companions through, swearing to never declaw again. We now have five cats in our family, and they are my precious babies. I cherish them everday, EXACTLY THE WAY THEY ARE!! If they want to scratch my furniture, they can.
If my apartment were on fire, am I going to grab my cats or my loveseat? But honestly, we have not had problems training our cats to use their posts, and we clip them a couple times a month to avoid being scratched ourselves. Also, people compliment me all the time when they meet my babies on how well-behaved and loving they are, even to strangers. Frenchie and my little girl Angel has turned several supposed cat-haters to mush with little more than a twitch of their tails. It really makes me wonder when I meet or hear about cats that are declawed and the personality and behavioral problems they have. It took me months before I didn't cry every day about what happened to Frenchie, and I am crying again right now. The vet's mistake devastated our lives, but now I am dedicated to fighting the mutilation of cats. Maybe something had to happen to change me from a passive bystander to an activist. When this first happened, I was afraid that Frenchie would blame me for what happened to him, and it would turn him into a scared and mean cat. But he is a great companion, and we have risen above this together. Right now,(as he sits on my desk waiting for me to finish typing and keeping busy knocking pens off) I know he doesn't blame me. I know he is proud of me for trying to stop other cats from going through the same thing.