The #1 behavioral reason for surrendering cats is soiling inside of the house, followed by aggression toward other pets and people, as well as biting. Declawed cats frequently display all of these behavioral problems, and it is not surprising that the percentage of declawed cats surrendered for peeing in the house far exceeds the percentage of clawed cats surrendered for the same reason.
What's Going On?
So, let's get to the bottom of this problem. Declawed cats are more sensitive to hard litters than cats with intact paws. As a result, they experience varying degrees of discomfort, from chronic ongoing phantom pain to intermittent discomfort. If a cat associates pain with the litter box, he is going to find someplace else to go, preferably someplace soft. Once his smell is in the new location, he will go back to that location as a pain-free alternative to the litter box.
Change the Litter
I did some research online this morning to find out what litters work best for declawed cats with behavioral issues. Both litters are good alternatives to clay, based on vet recommendations and on forum discussions among owners of declawed cats.
• Cat Attract™ by Precious Cat Litters contains a pheromone that attracts cats to the box.
• Just for Cats Natural Cat Care™ Litter by Nature's Miracle is a clumping corn cob granule that absorbs 4 times as much as clay litter. Available at Petco.
For more reading on this subject, check these useful links:
Inappropriate Urination: Causes and Cures by Meow Cat Rescue
Litterbox Secrets by Jackson Galaxy (18 Nov 2010)_LittleBigCat blog (the most comprehensive & sensible advice I've ever seen on the subject of litter box problems)
Litter Box Solutions by Precious Cat Litter (more sensible advice)
Making the Switch
The bottom line is that declawed cats are more prone to the same kinds of behavioral issues that the declawing was supposed to eliminate. A peed-on sofa is not an improvement over a clawed sofa, and a cat who resorts to biting because her sore paws make her more sensitive to being handled is not going to make her a better pet for kids.
For the record, declawing is now illegal in many countries including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Brazil, Australia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, and the Netherlands.
Look into the catbox for answers! (hehe) Cat Daddy, a.k.a. Jackson Galaxy, recommends a gradual change with no more than a 1/2 cup of new litter added to the catbox every day to allow your cat time to adjust to the new scent & feel of the litter. If Fluffy starts peeing in the house again, replace some of the new mixture with clay litter & wait for a couple of days to give your cat a chance to acclimate & return to the box. Then, start adding a 1/2 cup of new litter each day until the clay litter is replaced entirely. The whole process can take a few weeks depending on how quickly your cat adapts to the feel of the new litter.
Litter box problems and biting are common issues for declawed cats, and both can be resolved with patience and a simple change of cat litter. Remember, your cat loves you unconditionally. If behavioral issues come up, your cat is trying to tell you something in the only way that he knows how.
Here's to getting along with our furry friends!