August 21, 2005

I don't even know what to call this post, so lemme just tell you what happened.

One of our cats is a little bit on the special side. This is a cat who has been an indoor kitty since she was five weeks old (she's now nine years). She has been known to get all four sets of claws stuck in the carpet and stand there and twitch, trying to get free. (And yes, it is hysterically funny to watch her try to get loose.) I have often heard her plaintive mew and come to free one claw from the top of the couch, after she's already jumped to the seat of the couch. She sits there, plaintive and twitching, not really knowing why all of her did not jump to the seat below when she did.

Now, in her defense, I will say she has the most curved and long kitty claws of any cat I've ever seen. But still.

Friday night, Miss Mishu comes walking out of the litter box and her paw makes this funny clunky sound on the hardwood floor. I'm thinking what you're probably thinking: gross. She's probably got some clay stuck in her paw and she's tracking it around.

We'd be wrong.

My next thought is, as I'm getting to glance at her paw before she yanks it away, is that "Oh, she has managed to forget how to retract her claws."

This was also wrong.

Now if you've not been around cats, you might not know this, but cats' claws grow from the inside out and the outer claw is periodically shed.

What I saw on her paw was something I had never even HEARD of:
some of her claws had stopped shedding.

Her claws were growing longer, curved around and were buried in her paw pads! Here's an example of how long her claws had gotten:
This claw is curved into nearly 3/4 of a circle This is a claw that we used some dog clippers and cut off her. Note: this is NOT the entire claw. If you're used to cats, you've seen shed claws that look similar -- Mishu still has more claw on her paw after this bit was cut off. And while this claw has been cleaned up, most of the small, sharp part of the claw was buried in her paw pad. If you look closely at the top of the claw, you'll see a faint line there -- that's one of the newer claws that grew in under the top layer of claw. There are at least 4-6 full-sized claws contained inside this one claw! (We dissected one out of curiosity and found 9 claws inside - only looked like 4 or 5 until we kept peeling more layers away.)

Essentially, she was clawing her own paw pads, just from the way her claws were growing. I have NEVER seen anything like this!

We got two claws cut off and pulled out of the paw pads before we realized what a mess her feet were in. One of the worst paws was nearly split in half -- yet she wasn't limping or acting like she was in any pain! It was at this point: 6:45 on a Friday night, that we realized we couldn't get all of these out outselves -- somehow, two miniature dachshunds milling about the floor, crying and loudly yipping because they couldn't see the surgery and what we were doing to one of their kitties did NOT make Mishu a very calm kitty.

After pulling two of these things out of one paw and realizing that the other front paw was even worse, we figured this was going to be a vet job. Luckily, our vet does have some Saturday hours and luckily, I've been through the rigamarole of a declawed cat before, so I knew the drill for dealing with these sore paws.

We picked up the litterbox, tossed it into the garage and took off for the pet store on the other side of town. Snagged a new litterbox and some of that newspaper pellet litter. And some anti-bacterial spray for her paws.

Walked into the vet's office first thing Saturday morning and announced, "We need an emergency declawing, but it's not what you think."

The receptionist was confused.

"Her claws have grown too long and not shed and now they've grown full circle back into her paw."

The receptionist looked at me as if I'd suddenly grown kitty claws and was insisting that the vet look at me.

The vet tech who first looked at her, though, had actually heard of this before. Seems as some cats get older they just stop shedding their claws as readily. With both of us to hold the cat and the vet tech to snip out the claws, we were finished in about 10 minutes.

They didn't even have to stitch any of the paw pads despite the rather gaping wound in a couple of them -- we're giving her antibiotics for a week and then she should be good as new.

Except we'll be trimming her claws about every two weeks from now on!

Posted by Red Monkey at August 21, 2005 11:27 AM | Blog | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Courtney said:

Yikes! I have a cat who is "special," too. I think my poor kitty was abused before she came to me.

I should keep an eye on her claws- she gets caught in the carpet a lot, too!

August 22, 2005 5:01 AM


Andy T. said:

Ohh - sorry to hear this! Hope she is better.

August 25, 2005 5:59 AM


Deb said:

What does Mishu mean? I just adopted out an abandoned cat whose name was Mishu. The lady likes the name and I am trying to find out what it means.... Thanks.

September 25, 2005 12:19 PM


Red Monkey said:

So far as I know, Mishu means "mouse" in Russian.

September 25, 2005 2:44 PM


Sandra said:

I have a kitty claw problem too. My kitty gets her claws stuck in everything, on carpet, on the couch, chair cushions, blankets, and MY CLOTHES, and can't untangle them and struggles and panics and starts clawing at me. I feel so bad for her, she's struggling so pitifully when she gets stuck.

I helped her un-stuck herself once, and I figured that would make her realize I'm here to help, but forever after that, she would get upset if I touch her paw, or try to bite me if I try to get her un-stuck again.

She won't scratch her claws. I have a sisal scratching post for her that she won't use. She knows it's there, and I've put her toys, her food, all sorts of things there. I scratch it myself to show her what I want her to do. She put one claw of one paw on it once, and she never used it again. She rubs her body against it sometimes, and all, so I know she knows it's there. But she won't use it!

I now WANT her to scratch up my couch, or my carpet, or ANYTHING, to keep her from getting her claws stuck, but she just won't.

January 20, 2006 8:46 PM
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