How Much Does It Cost to Declaw a Cat?
How much does it cost to declaw a cat? Is it worth the risks? Is it necessary? Are there good enough reasons to remove your cat’s claws?
There are a lot of questions surrounding this divisive and emotional topic. And in this article, we’ll try to answer all of these concerns, so you can move forward and make an informed decision.
As pet owners, we are often at the crossroad of choices. Can we give this food to our cat or not? Should we feed him raw or cooked food?
And again, there comes a time when we will be confronted with the hard question of whether we should declaw our cat or not.
If you have reached the point of finally considering this controversial procedure, it’s high time to address the elephant in the room and find answers to the question once and for all, “How much does it cost to declaw a cat?”
What is Cat Declawing?
To put it in simple words, declawing, otherwise known as onychectomy, is a major surgical procedure to remove a cat’s claws. In definition, it’s as easy as that, but in reality, it’s not.
Declawing puts a pet owner into a rollercoaster of emotions, a quandary, and a difficult situation. And it places him in a heated debate with his fellow cat owners who are against the procedure.
And if we are to look at it objectively, there are indeed a lot of reasons to ask one’s motive in going for this risky and controversial procedure.
Declawing is obviously not the same as regular nail trims. And it’s even not similar when a human removes her real nails, to give way for fake nails.
If we are going to look at the anatomy of a cat, the equivalent of declawing to us humans is amputation. And in this case, we are removing a cat’s sharp nails and the bones that hold them, which are his first line of defense.
Due to the sensitivity of this procedure and considering the lifelong effects to the cat, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Academy of Feline Medicine emphasize that cat parents should be educated about the procedure, the dangers, the lifetime effects, and the non-surgical alternatives.
Most, if not all, of the benefits of having your cat declawed, can be achieved through the alternatives. Many vets prefer not to perform the procedure at all, while most strongly recommend pet owners to try other options before settling for the surgical removal of their cat’s toes and claws. Declawing a cat should always be the last resort.
Reasons Why Some Cat Owners Want Their Cat’s Paws Declawed
While there are several reasons not to declaw cats, there are still promising, and well-substantiated motives to go with it.
And one of the major instances, where declawing becomes necessary is when a cat has a damaged claw or a claw with a tumor.
Another medical reason that could support declawing is when the cat owner’s health is at risk. If you are immunocompromised or are taking blood thinners, you should not be exposed to the bacteria in your cat’s claws. So, declawing can be one of your options to address this health concern.
There are also cases where a cat has several toes that never touch the ground, and then the claws grow because they were not trimmed regularly or they didn’t have regular contact on surfaces, scratch pads or posts.
When this happens, the claws will poke into a cat’s nail bed. And during this time, vets may recommend declawing in the best interest of the cat.
However, most of the reasons why some cat owners prefer to have their cats declawed have something to do with social issues.
It can be that their feline buddies can’t seem to get over their destructive behaviors, particularly in scratching up walls and furniture, and even people.
These are common issues that cat owners have to go through with their feline companions. And while these behaviors can be annoying, and dangerous, there are still tested and proven ways to address and redirect these natural feline tendencies.
After all, it’s not a cat’s fault to behave like a cat. As cat owners, we should be the ones to adjust to the situation and not the other way around.
How Much Does It Cost to Declaw a Cat?
Many factors contribute to the average cost of declawing a cat. While it can vary depending on your kitty’s unique situation, the typical cost could be anywhere around $200 to $600, and that’s just the procedural cost.
On top of that, you should also weigh in the average costs of the blood tests, pain killers, examination fee, anesthesia, overnight stay charge, and so on.
If we are going to include all the additional costs and even hidden costs if there is, the total amount that you would have to prepare in declawing your cat ranges from $600 to $1800 with one night stay in the clinic.
The procedural costs vary depending on your location, the local veterinarian’s prices, and the vet clinic itself.
Your cat’s age, weight, and overall condition will also influence the total cost. Declawing a younger healthy cat is cheaper compared to declawing older cats with an underlying medical condition and/or are overweight.
What is the Cat Declawing Cost Breakdown?
The abovementioned figures are just estimates of how much you’ll have to spend to have your cat declawed. Below is the cost breakdown for you to have a better understanding of the typical cost of this procedure:
Pre Anesthetic Health Assessments
Just like any major surgical procedure, your vet will have to run some blood tests to get a complete picture of your feline’s health.
Younger cats would most likely need a CBC and basic blood chemistry panel, which could go around $80-$120. Older cats would need a more extensive full-blood panel, which could cost anywhere around $175 to $250.
On top of the blood works, you also have to pay for the examination fee or your local vet’s consultation fee which costs around $50 to $65 depending on your location and the clinic itself.
Charge for Anesthesia
The cost of anesthesia would vary depending on many factors, including the type of declawing procedure, your cat’s weight, the duration of the procedure, as well as the type of anesthesia that will be used.
Many clinics and hospitals will already include the cost of anesthesia in their overall charge, but you can ask your vet about it during the initial consultation so you can get a better idea. The typical cost of injectable anesthesia usually ranges from $25 to $75.
Cost of the Chosen Declawing Procedure
There are three types of declawing procedures. With the help and recommendation of your doctor, you can choose between the two common conventional methods, which are the Rescoe clipper method, and the disarticulation using a scalpel or you can go with the laser surgery laser method.
Three Methods Used in Declawing Cats
1. Rescoe Clipper Method
This is the fastest, simplest, and cheapest of all three methods. In this procedure, the veterinarian uses a sterilized clipper to cut the cat’s toe bone tips. As a result, the cat loses part of the bones from which his claws grow.
The incisions from the procedure will be closed using a suture or surgical glue. The cost of this procedure alone is usually $100.
2. Scalpel Blade/Nail Trimmer Method
This next procedure is more complicated than the first one, and it’s also more expensive.
It involves the use of a guillotine-style nail trimmer or a scalpel blade to surgically remove the last bone of each toe and the claws attached to them.
This procedure takes more time, which also means greater risks and more downtime from the anesthesia.
Declawing your cat using this method would cost you around $175 to $325 just for the procedure.
3. Laser Procedure
Laser declawing involves the use of a laser beam to amputate the bone and the claws associated with them.
As expected with any laser procedure, this method is less painful than the other procedures, but it is the most expensive.
The cost could go anywhere from around $350 to $600, which is still a reasonable price considering the cost of the equipment ($20,000 to $40,000).
However, if you take away the price tag in the picture, what you will see is that it can give your cat an easier time to adjust after the procedure considering that it is less painful, and it has a lower risk for post-surgical bleeding.
When choosing this procedure, it’s also important to choose an experienced veterinarian; otherwise, there’s a higher chance that your cat’s tissues could be burned during the process.
Whatever procedure you end up choosing if you decide to go with declawing, be aware that it is recommended to only be done at the front paws of your cat.
Additional Costs for Overnight Stays
Since declawing is an elective procedure, you and your vet can choose the date and time of the procedure. Many vets prefer to do it early in the morning, so your cat can stay in the recovery until late in the afternoon, and you can bring him home on the same day.
In some cases, the procedure is scheduled in the afternoon, so, it’s necessary to keep your cat in the clinic overnight. Nonetheless, the length of stay in the clinic still depends on your cat’s response to the effects of anesthesia, as well as other complications that may arise.
Moreover, the length of stay of your cat in the clinic can also be influenced by the type of procedure performed. And when your cat is spayed or neutered at the same time, it will also lengthen his stay in the clinic.
Knowing the estimated number of days your cat will have to stay in the clinic is important as it can greatly affect the total cost of the procedure.
The cost of an overnight stay varies depending on the clinic, but usually, it starts at $100 per night.
Declawing is not just expensive, but it can also be an extremely painful experience for your cat. Hence, the role of his pain medication is very much important in providing him comfort throughout the process.
Pain management can be done using three forms of pain medications – oral, injectable, and medicated patch.
Sometimes, your vet may also order the use of three methods to better manage your cat’s pain.
The cost of pain medications will vary depending on the types of medicines used, and how long your cat will have to take these.
Majority of hospitals will already include these in your total bill under the procedural costs. Feel free to ask your veterinarian if the pain medications are already included in the cost of your estimate or not.
Just like any other surgical procedure, there’s always the risk of infection. As such, oral antibiotics play an important role in your cat’s recovery.
While your vet may already administer an intravenous antibiotic during the procedure, he will still most likely prescribe additional oral antibiotics to be given after the procedure.
The cost of your cat’s antibiotic therapy will depend on the type of antibiotics, the days needed to take them, as well as your cat’s size.
Alternatives to Declawing Procedures
As you can see, declawing a cat isn’t just painful and expensive, but depending on your motives, it can also be unnecessary.
It may be hard to adjust to the scratching behavior of your cat, but it can be managed and redirected, so he won’t end up damaging your walls and furniture.
Hence, before you schedule a declawing appointment with your veterinarian, it would help to seek first some non-surgical alternatives that could address the underlying reasons why you’d want your cat declawed in the first place.
Below are some alternatives that you can try at home:
- Trim your cat’s nails regularly to prevent them from being sharp and stop them from growing to the point that they coil towards your cat’s paws or beans. You can do this with a regular nail clipper or even a human nail clipper. With patience on your part, you can save a thousand bucks from skipping the procedure, and you can also spare your cat from the dangers of declawing, as well as its negative effects on his behavior. If you don’t want to trim your cat’s nails yourself, you can also go to your vet or a groomer. The typical cost of a regular nail trim is $10 to $30.
- Set a time every day to play with your cat even for just 15 minutes. This can exhaust his energy and redirect his attention to the toy, instead of your sofa. You can also do this before mealtime, so he will have more appetite to eat and drink.
- While trimming your cat’s nails regularly and playing with your cat can help, doing these won’t stop your cat’s scratching behavior. In fact, nothing can stop a cat’s scratching behavior because it’s part of its nature. What you can do instead as a responsible cat parent is to buy your cat his own cat posts, and scratch pads. A cat will always have the desire to scratch, so, giving him something to redirect his energy would be very much helpful so he won’t end up damaging your furniture. You can lure your cat towards his newly bought cat posts and scratch pads by using catnip or giving him some treats.
- Another popular non-surgical alternative to declawing is the use of Soft Paws. These are soft plastic nail caps that are attached to your cat’s nails using glue. They cost around $10 for forty nail caps, and you can have them attached at home, or your local veterinary clinic. It would cost you $15 to $60 if you intend to have your vet apply these nail tips. Soft Paws nail tips will simply fall off as your cat’s nails grow, and you can replace them with new ones again.
Things to Consider Before a Declaw Procedure
Before continuing to declaw your cat, here are important things that you should also take into consideration:
1. Complications from Declawing
While surgery is safer nowadays, there’s always the possibility that your cat will get post-surgical infections. Whether your cat will stay at home or in the clinic during his recovery, he will still be exposed to potential carriers of infections and complications.
Short-term complications after surgery include pain, hemorrhage, lameness, swelling, inability to bear weight, decreased appetite, and personality changes.
Long-term complications from declawing include infection, nail regrowth, an abnormal stance, protrusion of the next bone in the toe, and prolonged and intermittent lameness.
Other complications reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association include temporary radial nerve paralysis, tendon scarring, and reduced blood flow to the limb.
2. Behavioral Problems After Declawing
One of the reported behavioral changes in declawed cats is that they become more aggressive. And this can be attributed to the fact that their claws are their first line of defense.
So, when they were removed, your cat may constantly feel that he is cornered and he may always feel the need to be on guard or on defense mode.
Some cats may also urinate and/or defecate outside of their litter box, while some may feel shy and anxious.
On the other hand, some cats may also feel completely the same as they were before the procedure. Hence, behavioral changes would also depend on the cat.
If you have made up your mind to proceed with the procedure, don’t hesitate to ask other cat owners in your community.
You can also ask about the first-hand experience of breeders that you know, as well as the professional recommendation of several veterinarians.
Bear in mind, though, that multiple vet consultations could add up to the total cost of your cat’s declawing journey.
Nonetheless, if it’s for your cat’s well-being and your peace of mind, a few hundred dollars should not be an issue at all.
The bottom line here is to educate yourself and to look at the bigger picture after considering the pros and the cons.
And if you still have second thoughts regarding this procedure, it may help to put yourself in your cat’s paws and to see things the way that they do.
Is it really cruel to declaw a cat?
Declawing is a painful, risk-filled procedure that is done only for the convenience of humans. There are only extremely rare instances, when claws are affected by a medical condition, that declawing cats can be considered anything but inhumane.
Is it OK to declaw an indoor cat?
People often mistakenly believe that declawing their cats is a harmless 'quick fix' for unwanted scratching. They don't realize that declawing can make a cat less likely to use the litter box or more likely to bite. However, infectious disease specialists don't recommend declawing.
Is there a humane way to declaw cats?
Laser declawing is considered by some in the veterinary community to be the most humane method for declawing. Reasons cited for this are that the toes undergo less trauma with laser, nerve endings are 'sealed' off leading to less pain, and less bleeding occurs.
Is a Tendonectomy better than declawing?
Performing a tendonectomy on a cat is an alternative to onychectomy (declawing), which amputates the end of each digit. Tendonectomy may be considered less painful for the cat than onychectomy; however, it is not recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and is illegal in many countries.