While there are other reasons for a cat not using the box like they should (be it behavioral or health), the most common cause of this is declawing cats. Regardless of what you have read, heard, or what your vet may have told you – Declawing a cat is abuse.
If you are the owner of a cat who is declawed and has box issues, it is no coincidence. This is a very common concern faced by a lot of cat owners and most don't understand why their cat will not use the litter box properly.
So why is my declawed cat going to the bathroom outside of the litter box?
Imagine you were taken to a doctor and they told you that they had to remove your toe nails and the tips of every toe bone you’ve got. Once they have been removed, you then have to walk on hard stones on your tippy-toes to use the bathroom for the rest of your life. Sound painful? You don’t even know the half of it! When a cat gets its nails removed, it is not just the nail being removed but an actual tendon on the bone. Not only this, they are snipping a major nerve with every nail they remove. Did I mention cats walk on their tippy-toes? This can lead to life long nerve shocks when walking, specially walking on uneven or hard surfaces. This is why people are told to use caution when trimming the nails of their cats. You can actually cut into the nerve deep enough to cause severe bleeding and even cause permanent nerve damage to your cat.
The issue with litter is… IT HURTS!
When it comes to litter, most of what is on the market is sharp and hard. If your declawed cat has issues with the nerves in its paws (most do), it may just not cover its waste or it may go as far as to refuse the use of a box all together. Cats who have this issue tend to look for other objects to go to the bathroom on like towels, bags, clothing, and rugs. They look for things they can shift around in an attempt to cover their waste. Your cat is actually doing the right thing, just not the way you want them to. Never scold a declawed cat for doing this. They are likely in a lot of pain when going in the box. Can you blame them for not wanting to!? The cats who do not show signs of pain after this likely have lost the feeling of those nerves. This can happen right away or years down the road. Most people don’t even realize this has happened because the cat can’t say ” I don’t feel my toes!”.
The sad truth of this is quite depressing.
What makes this more upsetting is there are people out there who will adopt a cat, declaw them, and then when the cat shows signs of peeing and/or pooing outside the box, they get rid of them. The cat is then sent off to a shelter and likely to be euthanized or bounced around from home to home never gaining a true meaningful bond with a human being. How cruel does this sound to you? If you have adopted a cat who had been declawed prior to them being in your care and you are faced with this problem, don’t give up on them. You can look for alternative litter to use such as paper, sand, or pellets. It may take some time but you must understand that this cat has been mutilated.
What declawing can do to a cat:
– Cause life long nerve damage in the paws
– Cause depression/anxiety
– Cause anger issues and outbursts
– Cause urination and defecating outside the box
– Cause a loss of trust a cat has with humans/owner
Read the facts on cat nails so you are not another person who contributes to this inhumane act on our feline friends.
The good news?
More and more vets in America are stopping this practice and in the UK it has been completely outlawed. There are still doctors, unfortunately, who do declaw cats and people who want this to be done. I am hoping by shedding some light on how painful it can be physically and emotionally for a cat to go through this, people will stop all together.
Be honest with yourself before you adopt!
If you can’t handle occasional scratches on yourself or your furniture you do not need to adopt a cat. Cats are proven to be smarter than the average dog so not being able to train them is a BS excuse. My cat is trained to only scratch what is his and he even sits, gives paw, and walks on a leash. It took me no time to train him these things. Cats are 100% trainable to at the very least not scratch what you don’t want them to. Provide them the things they enjoy to file their nails on and this will not be an issue. You have to start a cat young on this training while they are still in the phase of “learning to hunt”. This is something most cat owners don’t even know about because their vet likely never mentioned it. You CAN train an older cat but it will take time, patience, and a lot of trust.