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We are looking to adopt a cat, and a cat we may have the opportunity to adopt is actually already declawed. I'm of course against declawing cats, but I'm willing to consider taking in a declawed cat that needs to be re-homed as the procedure has already been done, probably years ago, and of course cats need homes regardless of whatever their previous owners have done.

My concern is though I know that declawing can possibly lead to mobility issues, and my home has many stairs. All of them are carpeted. The person trying to re-home the cat says the cat is able to go up and down stairs just fine currently. I'm planning on meeting the cat in person to verify if this is true. But what I'm specifically wondering is if the declawing will make it much more likely the cat will lose mobility as it ages? Can declawed cats be okay with navigating stairs even in old age?

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  • I assume the surface of the stairs is important here. Carpet? Rough stone? Smoothed wood? ... Jul 3, 2022 at 3:52
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    The stairs are all carpeted.
    – Kai
    Jul 3, 2022 at 3:58
  • This should make it more easy for the cat :) Jul 3, 2022 at 4:03

2 Answers 2

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Given declawing is causing pain the the paws as well as leading to back pain due to the different way the paws meet the floor, it is safe to assume that it will lead to earlier onset and increased severity of mobility issues associated with old age since the musculoskeletal system is already compromised to begin with.

Carpeted stairs should provide enough grip for the cat to navigate them safely though, and even without carpet on the steps claws are generally not all that useful climbing them.

Going upwards would generally be more comfortable than downwards, as that doesn't involve as much stress to the front paws.

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I have had a lot of cats during my life. Two of them were declawed. It is difficult to relate this to one of them, because he had diabetic neuropathy in his back legs and had difficulty getting up some non-carpeted stairs that I had. He had no trouble getting down them or getting up on my bed, etc. (My guess is he would not have had trouble with the stairs had they been carpeted, because his weaker back legs slipped on them.)

The other declawed cat never had any such trouble, on those same (uncarpeted) stairs, nor the other house he lived in that was mostly carpeted. He lived to 18. Certainly he slowed down a bit, that is natural, but I never noticed any specific problem with stairs any more than anything else, and I'm someone who keeps an eye on things cause I know how cats can hide things. I just don't see that this will end up being a true problem unless the vet did a really bad botch job.

There are other things important to consider.

  • Animals don't have the same "feelings" about things like that as we people do, and we tend to judge such things on our own feelings. An older cat will slow down and lose some mobility anyway. (I would be more concerned about a young cat/kitten that might lose quality of life if they can't run around and "be a cat," but not so much an older one.)
  • Will the cat go outside at all, and if so, is it declawed both front and back? A front declaw will not affect as much its ability to get up a tree or defend itself. Both front and back will be a problem with that.
  • The cat needs a home, right? I know that isn't answering your actual question, but the cat is what it is regardless whose home it's in, so I see this as only one part of a bigger picture.
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  • To be clear, I'm not judging the animal for being declawed, just considering whether she's a fit for a home with many stairs. It's good to hear some experience with cats who did okay despite the declawing. It's hard to find a good answer to my question, because mostly you'll just find arguments against declawing (though understandably so.)
    – Kai
    Jul 7, 2022 at 18:38
  • As for "will the cat go outside," it will definitely be an indoor cat.
    – Kai
    Jul 7, 2022 at 18:44

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