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I have 3 adult cats that were declawed. I just adopted 2 feral kittens found while raking. I feel badly that declawing is considered almost abuse now but I want to be fair to my 3 older (10+) cats. What should I do?

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As I'm sure you've read/heard, declawing is increasingly seen as inhumane. Many vets no longer agree to perform it because of the large set of problems that it can cause, including:

  • bone and joint pain at quite young ages
  • inability to properly exercise due to an inability to jump and climb in many scenarios
  • increased risk of obesity due to the combination of the above
  • inability to perform self-expressive and soothing behaviors such as sharpening claws, stretching on a vertical surface, and kneading
  • inability to practice self-defense in case it is needed (such as if a cat got out of the house and became lost). In addition to safety concerns, this can lead to emotional issues like chronic fear.
  • emotional and behavioral problems due to trauma from all of the above

These are all real, proven concerns, and chances are that your older cats have suffered from at least one or two of these. You should certainly not subject your new kittens to such things.

I understand your concern for your older cats. Since they are not able to defend themselves, you need to be prepared to protect them from rambunctious kittens that still have claws. You have a few options in this regard:

Trimming Claws

Many people with indoor cats prefer to regularly (every few weeks) trim their claws. It can be an easy way to make the claws do less damage on human skin, furniture, and other pets. With trimmed claws, what would otherwise be a serious scratch might not even leave a mark. It really does help. You can google or ask another question if you want tips on training your kittens to allow you to trim their claws.

Separating Adults from Kittens

This will likely depend on how your home is arranged, but you may be able to provide a space for your adult cats that your kittens are kept out of when you are not around to supervise. This might include putting the kittens upstairs while the adults stay downstairs or closing the kittens in a large room when you are not home. Make sure that both groups of cats have access to all needed items: water, litterbox, food, toys, etc.

If you do this for a time and find that the kittens do not seem to be harassing the adults, then it is likely fine to stop separating them.

Rehoming the Kittens

I know that you just found and adopted these kittens recently, but there is no shame in finding them a new home if that would be best for your older cats. You might call around and find an animal shelter that would let you foster them until a permanent home is found, or maybe your vet knows someone who is looking for new cats.

I hope this helped, good luck!

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