I wanted to write about something that I know is a sensitive subject, hence the cartoon.
Chocolate was fully declawed by whoever owned him before me. When I adopted him at 9 months old, I had no idea of the ramifications of this declawing.
Growing up we front declawed our cats. As far as I know neither had potty problems, although the second cat pooped upstairs the last two years of her life. I don't know why. I assumed it was because of the new dog. She was used to dogs but maybe this new one was too much for her.
Chocolate used to bite me and chew on things. He chewed on lampshades, stone cats, exercise equipment, and wood furniture. He bit me numerous times over the years.
I finally stopped him from biting by using the same procedures I used in eliminating behavior problems in the toddlers I used to care for. I guess cats are like toddlers!
In the last ten years of his life he had arthritis in his hips. He peed and pooped outside his box. The pee was just outside the box or on the edge, so I think he couldn't squat enough to make it in the box due to the arthritis.
I tried everything including changing the litter, boxes, locations, etc. I finally gave up and put puppy pads under the box.
Then I put another box in the second bedroom. This was a bad idea. Chocolate sometimes peed past the puppy pads and the urine soaked through the carpet.
I put another box outside the balcony this past spring. He started to pee there so I thought he was trying to mark his territory due to the stray cats out there. There had always been strays but I think being on steroids due to digestive disorders caused his testosterone level to increase, requiring him to protect his property. He peed outside the box there too.
Added to the pee I couldn't smell it. My nose is so plugged all the time due to a second cleft palate surgery that I can't smell many things, including cat pee.
So who knows where he peed.
Now I have to replace my carpeting. I decided to go with laminate so I don't have to deal with cat pee anymore in case a future cat has this problem. Besides Chocolate puked a lot too, possibly due to digestive disorders.
Needless to say, when I realized all this, I sobbed. I wondered how long Chocolate suffered from this pain. Did he hate that he missed the box? Did he hate that he pooped all over and couldn't control it?
Did his paws hurt all his life because of the declawing? Did it hurt to walk, sit, lay, jump?
I wanted to write about this but I didn't want to lay a guilt trip on people who declawed their cats. I think people don't know or don't think about it. I know I never did until I had to deal with Chocolate's problems and learned about declawing and what it does to a cat.
I guess having Chocolate in my life made such a difference. I became an animal advocate because of him. My only paid writing was about him. I experienced God's love through him because I realized God loved me more that I loved Chocolate.
Part of the grief I feel is because of his suffering. But it wasn't all bad. Over the years we learned to trust each other. He stopped attacking me and I stopped being afraid of being attacked. We had a mutual understanding of each other. And I miss that. I miss that comfortableness that we had with each other. That bond that I thought would never break.
So I write this in honor of Chocolate. I don't want any cat to have to go through what he went through. If his death could save a life, maybe he wouldn't have to die in vain.