Delaney was surrendered to the rescue in February 2013, at 6 years of age. We were told by her owners that she had no behavior or medical issues. Unfortunately, shortly after being surrendered, she started avoiding the litterbox and peeing elsewhere. We had a full medical work up done by our vet and it was suspected that she had a urinary tract infection. For a few weeks after treatment, she seemed better and was using the box again. Happily, a lovely couple with a quiet home saw Delaney on Petfinder, met her, and adopted her.
The adoptive family loved Delaney so much and when she started going outside the litterbox, they contacted us right away to find out what they should do. Despite numerous vet visits, litters, medications, litterboxes, pheromones, calming collars, nothing seemed to resolve the problem. Eventually, they realized that they could not manage her litterbox issues and felt it was in Delaney's best interest to return her to the rescue.
We suspected that Delaney's problem was two-fold. She had a low threshold for stress (a problem we have seen before in our declawed rescue cats) and paw pain or sensitivity. She was started on Prozac and we continued with the calming collar, pheromone diffuser, and other things to help her cope with stress. Unfortunately managing her stress was not enough and the litterbox avoidance continued (going on soft surfaces).
Delaney was declawed as a kitten (per her vet records from when she was surrendered) and we suspected that her litterbox avoidance was related to her paw pain/sensitivity. We tried many things to make the litterbox more comfortable for her and continued to search for other options to help this little girl. When we heard about a vet that specialized in helping declawed cats, we decided to bring Delaney to see him. Dr.Ron Gaskin of Main Street Veterinary Services did a thorough physical exam of Delaney and he found that three of her paw pads were callused and inflamed. He used a special x-ray machine, that he designed, to take magnified x-rays of Delaney's paws. These x-rays provided a much closer view of the bones and tendons of her paw and confirmed what Dr.Gaskin had suspected from the physical exam. Her deep digital flexor tendons, under three of her toes were very contracted and inflamed (two on her front left paw and one on the front right paw) which corresponded to the most callused and inflamed paw pads. Without that last bone of her paw (which is removed during a declaw), she has been unable to stretch and flex these tendons which has allowed them to contract and cause her pain. The x-rays also confirmed that there were no bone fragments left behind during the declaw, which are frequently found to be causing pain and are the result of a botched declaw. Delaney's paw pain was the result of a standard declaw surgery, done "correctly".
In order to confirm that her litterbox avoidance was related to her paw pain, Delaney was started on twice daily pain medication. While on the pain medication Delaney would use the litterbox 100% of the time. If we tried to wean her off, she would start avoiding the box again. After many months of success on the pain medication, Delaney started to avoid the box once in awhile, despite being on the medication. We brought her back to Dr. Gaskin and her paws were x-rayed again. The x-ray revealed that more of her tendons were contracted and inflamed. Due to the progression of contraction and her increasing pain, Dr.Gaskin felt that Delaney was now a candidate for declaw salvage surgery. Needing to do something to relieve her pain, we elected to move forward with the surgery. Although, the salvage surgery could never undo the damage that the declaw had done, it would hopefully make using the litterbox bearable for her. The surgery would release the tendons in her feet, freeing them, but also taking away her ability to flex the toes that were not already contracted.
Fall 2014, Delaney came home from surgery with her little paws all shaved and having some postoperative pain...but within a few days she was doing wonderfully. Within one month of surgery, she was taken completely off of all pain medicine. She is using the litterbox 100% of the time. Before surgery, she would wait to go potty and then have a flood in the litterbox (or elsewhere). Now, she is going regular sized pees, multiple times a day. AND She is doing something she has NEVER done before. Delaney is covering her business in the litterbox. In the almost two years with us, she has never done this. She is playing with her toys and seems happy. Delaney has not had ANY accidents since her surgery. Her forever home will have to understand that damage done by declawing can never fully be undone and she may have some bumps along the road. However, we believe in this pretty girl and hope someone will be willing to give her the understanding forever home that she deserves! We are so excited and hopeful for Delaney.
Adoption Fees: All of our cats are spayed/neutered, micro-chipped, vaccinated (as age appropriate), tested for Feline Leukemia/FIV, given flea/tick & heartworm preventative, & fecal tested (dewormed if needed) before being adopted out. Delaney's adoption fee is $100 including tax; adoptive homes are given all vet records at the adoption.
If you are interested in adopting, please complete an adoption application here: http://members.petfinder.org/~MN324/adoptionapp.html