April 23, 2011

Claws

I went to the animal shelter yesterday to drop off some more donation clothes (they have one of those fundraising dumpsters), and while I was there I went in "just to look" at the cats, "just for fun." My household is a three-cat household with two cats, and so the cat vacuum needs to be filled---but we thought it would be nice to have some two-cat time first, so I haven't been actively looking. On the other hand, it's so tempting---like browsing baby name books when you're not actively trying but you've entered the "it would be fine if it happened" time.

So I went in to look, and I found a great cat. Exactly the cat I was looking for. We'd like to STAGGER our cats a bit more this time, so that we don't have three elderly cats at the same time with all their expenses and problems and stresses and sad dyings, and we have a 2-year-old cat and a 1-year-old cat so we'd like the new cat to be at least 5 years old, and this cat was 7 years old. Which is also pleasing since older cats can be harder to find homes for.

Also, this isn't at all necessary, but I do ENJOY getting different fur colors each time, so it's not crucial but a BONUS would be a new kind of fur, and this cat was patches of orange fur and white fur, which we've never had.

A lot of times, when I look at the cat and then the little descriptions on the cages, the cat sounds perfect until I get to the part where it says the cat doesn't get along with other cats, or doesn't do well with small children---and there are a lot of cats like that at a shelter, because that's one of the big reasons WHY a cat gets brought to a shelter. But THIS cat's description said he's easy-going and gets along great with young children, other cats, and even dogs.

AND, a clincher: it said "He'll want to sleep on your bed, so be prepared!" I LOVE a cat on the bed at night. And this cat is a nice big solid cat.

Furthermore, the cat was working the pity vote: lots of cats seem like they don't mind being at the shelter, but this cat looked, as I described him to my mother, "like he just wants to GO HOME," and my mother agreed completely. (Did I mention she was with me? She was with me, and so was Henry.) He didn't come to the cage door to pick at it or bonk his head against it like some of the other cats do; he had his head toward the far corner and he looked like he'd lost hope. And yet when I put my hand at the cage bars, he came right over and rubbed his jaw/cheek on my fingers.

I think that cat would be here at our house right now, except for one thing: the description said his front paws were declawed and so he should be an indoors-only cat. And we have two indoor/outdoor cats, and they have a cat door so they can come and go freely, and we have children going in and out all the time so we wouldn't be able to reasonably expect to be able to contain a cat that WANTED to go out.

So. I went home, without the cat. But I'm feeling sad about the cat. I KNOW I will like other cats just as well, and that if we don't get THIS cat there will be ANOTHER cat later. And in fact when we get that hypothetical future cat, Hypothetical Future Me will be saying, "Boy, I'm glad we didn't get that OTHER cat, because then imagine: we wouldn't have THIS cat!" But right now I still find my mind turning the problem over and over, trying to find a way we could take the cat. Could we TRY to keep him indoors while letting the other two out? No. Could we keep the other two cats exclusively indoors as well? No. CLAW REATTACHMENT SURGERY? No.

IS there any way this could work? I was thinking I might go to the shelter on Sunday (I take Henry and one of the big kids on an outing on Sunday, and the animal shelter is a popular destination), and if the cat is still there I could talk to one of the people who works there about it. I also thought about calling the vet to ask HER. Because the shelter leans very hard toward keeping cats indoors, and what I thought I remembered was that a front-declawed cat COULD go outside, especially if they have a cat door they can run to, because in a pinch they can climb trees with their back claws and just use their front paws for balance? Like, that you wouldn't declaw an indoor/outdoor cat---but that if the cat were ALREADY declawed, as in this situation, all was not lost on the outdoors thing as long as the back paws still had claws.

37 comments:

vanessa steck said...

omg get the cat. like right now. go back to the shelter and snap that baby up, and then post pictures.
i dont even LIKE cats, but this one seems like HE NEEDS YOU and you are breaking my heart here.
I dont know about the clawing issue. I'm all for keeping cats mostly inside since they are such a giant threat to birds. BUT the cat door sounds like a great idea! and if he's never been outside I bet he won't be too interested, and you can make him a special place with special catnip and scrathing poles so he doesnt even miss the outside, and OMG GO GET HIM.

janet said...

Good morning!
I don't know how well they work but there are pet doors that are locked and unlock in the presence of a properly collared pet. Would that help any?

I think I've heard that cats travel a goodly distance from their house, so I'm not sure about the run-for-home hypothesis.

There are cats that have no interest in going outside. Our cats (4!) are indoors only. But I take them for walks on a leash. One of the cats likes to look out the screen door or go out on an enclosed porch, but hates being outside. The other cats actively beg for walks.

Perhaps you know someone who would love a declawed cat? I know people who don't take clawed cats, perhaps if you tell your story to people, you know, just telling a story, not actively asking if they'd like a cat, you'll find someone who would be interested?

d e v a n said...

Hmmm, I have heard that about front only declawed cats too, but I'm not totally sure. It seems as if they need their front claws for protection. The vet would probably be a great place to call and see what they say.

We have 2 cats, one who gets to go outside and one who doesn't (his hair is VERY long and gets matted easily). And the one who doesn't get to go out gets pissed, but we don't have a cat door that leads outside (we have one into the garage from outside) so as long as no one leaves doors open, he stays in.

I do the same thing with cat colors. I like to get a different color each time, just for variety. We currently have an orange tabby and a Maine Coon.

Nik-Nak said...

We had a front declawed kitty in the house for a year. She had a spraying issue, even after she d been fixed where she just sprayed the entire house constantly. We put her outside on the farm. And she thrived happily for years. Get the cat! They can make it outside with no claws. Especially since it ll just be going in and out.

Amanda said...

My in-laws have a fifteen year old indoor/outdoor cat with no claws, front or back. I'm not sure how unusual he is, but he never had a problem climbing trees or catching rodents. They live on a farm with dogs and have several other cats with claws, which he never had a problem getting along with.

I'd go ahead and check with the vet/shelter about your concerns, no front claws may not be a deal-breaker when the cat seems so perfect otherwise.

Alexa said...

If he's always been an indoor cat he may not want to go outside. My two are indoors and have been their whole life, and they will to an open door and peek outside and sometimes step on the pooch. But they really don't want to go out there...it's too scary.

Marie Green said...

For the 2nd day in a row, I've typed LONG comments and then been told by blogger that "there was a problem" and my comment is GONE. GAH.

So this comment is a TEST.

Marie Green said...

So... did I exceed some unknown character limit? Why did blogger eat my longer comments but not that one?

Anyway, we had a front-declawed cat growing up that was indoor/outdoor. She lived to be in her 20's! She could climb trees, kill things and leave them as gifts for us on the front step, and even fight neighborhood cats (we'd hear them yowling, but she never came home injured... I think cat fights are mostly noise/vocalizations?) I also had a front-declawed cat in college that was indoor/outdoor and was fine. (I don't declaw as a general rule, but one of these cats came to us declawed and the other had an actual medical reason for declawing.)

So get the cat! Either s/he has been out before and will cope fine, or s/he'll learn to cope fine, or (at age 7) maybe decide that being INSIDE is where's it's AT.

Lis said...

My aunt had a front declawed cat who went outside and run outside and caught snakes, so I'm guessing the declawing didn't slow him down too much.

I vote get the cat. He'll be so happy to be home, he'll probably not want to go outside.

Sarah said...

Agg. Just left a long comment, the story of how we got Fonz (same sad pitiful animal curled up forlornly in a cage, seeming like a prisoner waiting out its sentence) but then Blogger couldn't process my request.
Anyways, the moral of the comment was, get the cat! You'll figure out the door thing.

Marie Green said...

Sarah- blogger did that to me, TWICE!

Mrs. Irritation said...

Go get the cat. NOW! Then send pictures.

SheLikesToTravel said...

I agree with the others. Consider getting the cat... and ignore that comment that because this cat doesn't have claws you can't let him outside.

house-of-boys said...

Our kitty is front declawed and he spends a large amount of time outside. He brings home mice, climbs trees, and occasionally scuffles with other neighbhorhood cats.

So I guess I am another "get the cat" voter. :)

Anonymous said...

We had two declawed cats, but they were inside only as we lived in an apartment. I don't think it would have been a problem for them either way.
I just wanted to point out that this Sunday is Easter so I'm not sure many shelters will be open.
-Liz

Kristen said...

I'm with the others. Bring that cat home. It's meant to be.

Julie said...

I had a cat who was declawed in front (I didn't do it!), and he was not only an indoor/outdoor cat, but incredibly fierce. He once took down a rabbit with only back claws. He once stored a dead frozen squirrel (that we assume he killed) in a snowbank. He taught our younger, stupider cat how to unzip what she killed. So, it might depend on the personality of the cat, but while all four sets of claws are better, back claws can go the distance.

Amy Ruth Webb said...

Hi! I think you should go for it. We have a cat that came to us front declawed. He had terrible litter habits which we put up with until we had a kid and couldn't use the basement as a playroom as we had intended because the cat hid poops down there like landmines. Well, try as we might, we couldn't find anyone to take him. We even considered giving him up to a no-kill shelter, but they are always full and there was no way we were sending him to the pound. So, as a last ditch effort, we put him outside. He has been a full time outside cat for over a year and he loves it! He was over twenty pounds and never wanted to move and now he runs around and is about half his original size. He even (successfully) hunts!

Nikki said...

I vote get the cat too! I've also seen plenty of front declawed cats that have thrived/hunted/done just fine outside. I agree, he'll be fine or just stay inside

alice said...

Julie, that cat sounds utterly Bad-Ass. How cool!

I hadn't heard of front-declawed cats doing well outside, so this is a useful discussion (a front-declawed cat adopted us, and since our cats have become indoor only now that we live in a bigger house, it hasn't been an issue, but I sometimes feel bad that they're so limited.)

I think that the vet's a great route to go - your description of the cat makes him sound perfect, which means that you already adore him, and the vet's a good mostly-objective source of information on the practicality of it all. Good luck!

Bea said...

Go back and get the cat! Today! Orange-and-white cats are my very favourite, especially big ones. Like everyone else, I have a story of a front-declawed cat who lived a long and happy life with full access to the outdoors - my parents' cat was a rescue, so he came to us with no front claws, and it was absolutely no problem. There are risks with any cat being outdoors, so if you've already made the choice to assume those risks (outweighed by the benefits of the joy so many cats clearly take in being outdoors) I don't think those missing front claws should tip the balance.

ToyLady said...

I don't know anything about the declawing issue; I just wanted to weigh in on the three different colored cats. Years ago, my sister had three cats, and then she moved and dumped them on my parents. My father couldn't (more like wouldn't) remember their names, so the parents just called them "Black" "Orange" and "Grey." I think it might have been very confusing if they hadn't actually been those three different colors. . . :)

Sarah said...

I had a cat growing up, named Pumpkin, who was all of 6 pounds and declawed in front. Not only was she an indoor/outdoor cat but she could jump our solid wood 6-foot fence (using her back claws halfway up for that extra boost) and she was an excellent hunter. We were the constant recipients of all manner of small animals, including birds.

Cats adapt, and this cat may be one of those that doesn't wander very far from home (I have one of these now who has all her claws intact). Perhaps he is just waiting for someone to give him a chance to show what a great outdoor cat he can be! :)

St said...

I had a front-declawed cat who became an outdoor-only cat and she lived to be 17, pretty good for an outdoor cat in general. She fought her share of critters and delivered her many kills to our front porch.

Missy said...

My childhood cat was declawed and indoor outdoor cat. He was able to climb trees, catch birds, squirrels, and FISH, all of which he would proudly leave by our front door. (Which was kind of eww. Especially that squirrel...) He lived to a ripe old age and ruled the neighborhood. Go get your cat!

kate said...

Awww. I feel so INVESTED in the cat's future. I hope you go get it.

When I adopted my current dog, I almost adopted an older German Shepherd but decided he was too big. I don't regret the dog that I have now, but still think about that German Shepherd, five years later, and hope he's doing okay.

Ginny said...

We had a declawed cat (don't remember if it was front-only or all four) who followed my sister home one day... we tried to keep him inside because of the claws, but he kept crying to go out. He did fine... he occasionally got into fights in the neighborhood, but he seems to have generally come out on top.

My cats now are 11 years old and have been kept indoors all their lives. They like to sniff under the door, but the couple of times they've gotten a chance to actually step outside, they FREAK OUT and run back in after about two steps.

Since your cat (like how I'm already calling him yours?) is older, my guess is either he's learned to hold his own outside, or he's so accustomed to being inside that he wouldn't want to go out. I'd recommend being careful to keep him in for the first few weeks, while he gets used to your house, and then giving him freedom and seeing what he does with it.

Bethtastic said...

I"m hoping the reason you have responded to so many commenters "GET THE CAT!" statements is because you're down at the shelter This Very Minute. Picking up that cat.

My childhood cat was indoor-outdoor, front de-clawed. He was a crazy good huter and tree-climber.

Cats adapt.

Get the cat. He's already yours in your heart. :)

lifeofadoctorswife said...

Like others I feel very invested in this cat. Because, thanks to your description, I am FULLY in love with him. He sounds amazing.

Wish I could comment definitively on the claw situation. But all my life my family has ONLY had fully clawed cats (even the one who lives exclusively indoors has all his claws).

I am allergic to cats but love them deeply and I truly hope you get this kitty, if only so you will share photos of him that I can oooh and aaaah over.

Lillowen said...

We have a portly orange and white kitty that basically adopted us, and I wouldn't trade him for anything. I can't speak to the indoor/outdoor issue (both of our cats are exclusively indoor) but I can say with some certainty that sturdy orange cats are awesome. Orange cats are widely considered to be the friendliest -- I'm not sure if there's any actual SCIENCE behind that, but every orange cat I've ever known has been lovable and affectionate, almost aggressively so but not in an off-putting way.

Clarabella said...

I don't have any insight/advice on the claw issue, but I just wanted to say I LOVE how the internet is saying "GET THE CAT!"

Swistle said...

Oh, Liz! I hadn't even realized tomorrow was Easter! Or rather, I HAD realized, but I was thinking in closed categories: "Tomorrow is Easter, we will have an Egg Hunt!" AND "Tomorrow is Sunday, we will go shopping!"

Lauren said...

I grew up with an indoor/outdoor cat with no front claws and she did fine. But she started going outside as a kitten (with no claws) so she learned it early. If this new kitty has been indoors only for 7 years it might be tougher.

But the important question is what's best for the cat? Maybe living with you and dealing with the outdoors is better than possibly never getting adopted as many 7 yr old cats don't. Good luck!

Christina said...

GO GET HIM!!!!!!!!!!! I've never heard of a declawed cat HAVING to be an indoor cat. I think it's recommended, but hello - you live in suburbia not like the outbacks of Uganda or something. Get him!! And give us pics!!!

Alicia said...

When I read your first sentence, I thought you were dropping off ANIMAL CLOTHES. And then I thought, "But she seemed so NORMAL," before realizing what you meant.

My mom had my three cats declawed when she inherited them when I married my (allergic) husband, but she always allowed them to go outside, which bothered me. One was attacked by a neighborhood dog and hurt badly... not bad enough to go to the vet, but bad enough that he limped around and didn't eat very well for a week or so. And then another was KILLED by another dog. So. Rest comfortably in that nice, happy story that maybe it was for the best that you didn't get the cat. Not that you should NOT have gotten the cat... Just trying to be "positive." Or something. In a really backassward way.

Anne said...

Get the cat! I have two declawed cats who are indoor/outdoor and they do just FINE. One even keeps manages to catch a bird or mouse nearly every day...without his front claws.

Nicole said...

Go get the cat.