Declawing cats is an emotional and controversial topic because it involves removing the cat’s first line of defense: its sharp nails and bones that hold the nails. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Academy of Feline Medicine stress that owners should be educated about the procedure, the risks, and the alternatives.
Declawing, or onychectomy, is a major surgical procedure that removes the cat’s claws completely. Many of the benefits of declawing can be achieved through alternative methods; in fact, most veterinarians will require you to try other solutions before they agree to declaw a cat. Some veterinarians will not declaw cats at all, and some areas in the United States, as well as other countries, have outlawed this practice. Declawing a cat should be the last feasible option available.
How Much Does it Cost to Declaw a Cat?
The cost of declawing a cat ranges from $200 to $800 (or more) and is dependent on your cat’s age, your local veterinarian’s prices, take-home medications, and pre-anesthetic health assessments, and any other potential complications that may come with the surgery. Also, if your local veterinarian does not offer declawing, you will need to travel outside of your area to have the procedure done, which entails additional costs.
Are There Good Reasons to Declaw a Cat?
There are a couple of good reasons. Medically, if your cat has a claw that has a tumor or is damaged, you may consider declawing. If you have a suppressed immune system or are on a blood thinner, you should not be exposed to the bacteria on a cat’s claws and may want to consider declawing.
However, the majority of declawing procedures are because of social issues: specifically when destructive behavior such as scratching up furniture, walls, and even people becomes out of control. Still, there are some effective alternatives to prevent this behavior that you can try before deciding on declawing.
What is the Cat Declawing Cost Breakdown?
To determine the cost breakdown to declaw a cat, you will need to consider the following:
Pre-Anesthetic Health Visit Cost:
Depending on your cat’s age, he will need to undergo diagnostic testing for veterinarians to get a complete picture of your feline’s health. Younger cats will likely need a CBC and basic blood chemistry panel, which costs between $80-$120. Older cats need a more extensive chemistry panel, a CBC, and a urinalysis, which costs approximately $175-$250.
Declawing a cat typically requires injectable anesthesia, which is cheaper than intubation or gas anesthesia. The cost of anesthesia normally ranges from $25-$75.
Declawing Procedure Cost
There are three methods to declaw a cat. The Rescoe clipper method is the simplest and cheapest of the three. The veterinarian uses a sterilized clipper to remove the cat’s toes and bone tips, and then stitches the incisions. This method costs approximately $100, but this method involves risks such as infection.
The second method, the disarticulation method, the veterinarian surgically removes the bones that host the cat’s claws. This means that the claws will never regrow. The average cost for the disarticulation method is $250, and it is more complicated than the Rescoe clipper method.
The laser method involves employing laser beams to remove the bones from which the claws grow. This procedure comes with less pain and bleeding, and is the most expensive method at $200-$450.
All three methods require tissue glue and bandages, which costs $20-$50.
Your cat will need antibiotics and pain medication after the declawing procedure. Antibiotics cost around $30, and pain medication costs around $20-30. In addition, your cat will need to wear an e-collar to ensure he does not chew on his paw, which will add an additional $10-$25.
In addition, it is recommended that you replace your regular cat litter with paper cat litter for at least one week after surgery to reduce the risk of contaminating the surgical wounds. Paper cat litter costs around $20 for a 30-lb. bag.
Cat Declawing Alternatives
As you can see, declawing a cat is not only painful for the cat, it is also expensive. There are some effective alternatives for preventing scratching that could save significant money!
Regular Nail Trims
Trimming your cat’s nails regularly is an effective way to prevent them from becoming too sharp. This can be done with a cat nail clipper or a regular human nail clipper. They usually cost no more than $5 (here’s what i recommend)
Your veterinary clinic or groomer can trim your cat’s nails if you don’t want to do it yourself. A typical trip to the groomer or vet clinic for a nail trim is $10-$30.
Another popular alternative to declawing is Soft Paws, which are soft plastic tips that are glued to your cat’s nails. They cost around $10 for 40 nail tips. First, you trim your cat’s nails, and then you glue on the Soft Paws. You can apply these at home, or your local veterinary clinic can apply them. The average cost for applying Soft Paws is $15-$60. They will naturally fall off as the nails grow, and you can replace them as needed.
Cats use pheromones (chemical connections between species) to know where to scratch. You can use pheromones to show them where to scratch! Feliscratch is a month-long course of pheromones that teaches your cat where to scratch. These cost around $15-$25. This product is pretty effective; eight out of ten cats will learn how to scratch in the “right” places.
If you have exhausted your options and are set on getting your cat declawed, ask fellow cat owners, breeders, or veterinarian clinic for recommendations. Keep in mind that most people have strong opinions on this controversial procedure, so be prepared for that. You can also check with the American Veterinary Medical Association to find your state’s medical association for a referral.
The bottom line is to educate yourself thoroughly on the procedures, risks, and cost of declawing your cat. The cost will range from $200 to up to around $800 or more, depending on your cat, the veterinarian practice, and other potential costs.
Article was very informative. Learned a lot. I will check out the alternative methods first.
Thanks a lot for reading the article and doing your research, Sharon. These situations can be tricky and challenging to modify kitty’s behavior. It would be great if you could find an alternative that works for you. Good luck!
How are you giving instructions and pricing for a barbaric procedure? Shame on you. The rest of us are rescuing cats who can no longer go outside, play or defend themselves and live in extreme pain. Those are the stories you should be telling along with stories of prosecution for animal abuse. If people don’t want furniture ripped, fet a stuffed toy, don’t torture and maim a living creature..
Hi Ruth, first, thank you for your work in rescuing and caring for in-need animals. Also, your passion on this declawing topic is appreciated. But, your casting of shame is not. The reality is that thousands of cat owners face this situation every year and search for such information. We’ve taken the opportunity in answering their questions to provide an educational article that presents the facts, positions, and things that we advocate that owners consider before performing such an action. We would hope that you find our approach a worthwhile one. Finally, if you are willing to write a fact-based (and referenced) article on an opposing point of view on this topic, I pledge to give you the opportunity to publish it on our website. Regards, David.
I am 100% considering declawing my 2 1/2year old cat who has destroyed at least $8000 dollars woth of furniture.On top of that I am on blood thinners and he has really nicked me badly. Cutting his nails is impossible and he bites. We have covered all of our furniture only to find he has gone under the covers and shredded chairs sofas you name it.Of course we will use laser which is much less painful. We adore our Boy but have no choice. I have never had a cat this destructive. He has 3 trees with scratching posts and toys that have scratching bases.He is an inside cat that only is allowed on our deck with a birdcage when we are with him. He has to brothers who are dogs and has come very close to scratching their eyes. You never know what a persons situation is when they choose to declaw.Our boy was a rescue and has a wonderful pampered life and is very spoiled.He just scratches everything in sight.
Hi Terry, thank you for sharing your experience, it is appreciated. Best of luck and hope things work out for your family.
I also suffer these problems! I’ve owned 27 cats and declawed all of them; except my last one. They were indoor/outdoor cats, and never once encountered a problem from not having claws. In fact, a couple of them scampered up a tree using their back claws if a dog was chasing them.
I deeply regret not declawing my present cat as all of the corners of my upholstered furniture are destroyed. I also have many holes in my clothing and scratches on my legs and arms. She doesn’t mean to hurt me. Every night she does the kneading behavior and her claws get stuck like a fishing lure in the blanket.
I cannot clip her no matter what tricks I try. She wriggles nonstop, and, because her fur grows well over her claws, even extending them I’m unable to see them. Where I live, it costs $25 for each clipping – that’s $250 a year. The cost of new furniture alone is substantial. I have to wonder how many cats wind up at the Humane Society are there because of clawing damage?
All I can say is that there’ve been 26 fewer cats with a home had I not declawed the first one!
The absolute best information I have ever heard Tim Marler Phoenix Arizona
I am considering declaw for back feet nails. My cat has incurable condition call EDS Elhers Danlos syndrome. He doesn’t have the collagen in his skin so it tares very easily. He is just now a year old and I have spent over $1500 on him. From getting his skin torn if he scratches himself even with nails cut he cuts his skin. I have tried the plastic nail tips they do not work for him. He can not go outside he cannot play with other cats. Today I had to put his cone back on because he has now scratched his eye. I don’t agree with delaying all cats but I’m afraid this is going to have to be fine for him . His name is Ozzy. He is I think a ragdoll.
Thank you for sharing your and Ozzy’s story, Ruth, so wonderful that you have a ragdoll. I have a friend who has EDS and it has been a real challenge for her. All the best to you and Ozzy!
He is giving education on a procedure directed toward people who love their cats and DON’T want to and WON’T give them up. You can’t stop all the bad in the world by being an ignorant and uninformed loudmouth comment poster like you Ruth. Yes Ruth, it is wrong for anybody to declaw a cat and then abandon it. But, since you are so expert in cats and human behavior, what is the ratio of abandoned cats with claws compared to abandoned ones who are declawed??? If you research, actually research instead of just spouting emotional crap, you would find that abandoned cats who are declawed are basically null compared to abandoned cats with claws. And Ruth, I’m pretty sure that the sickly, evacuated cats I have rescued myself all have had claws.
Ruth, I have to ask you why you would let your cats run in and out when you know that Feline Cancer can be passed from one cat to another? Human should be for the entire life and activity of each animal. I choose to have an inside cat only as I cannot even dream of causing my cat to get Cancer because of my negligence. Plus I take blood thinners. My original cats lived 19 years after being declawed. The pain my cats has was bad, but their extended life of being inside was I am sure happy for them but these 2 cats were loved and spoiled for 19 years.
Shame on you for casting shame on this man Ruth. Trying to be informative and doing a very good job at it. Shame on YOU, Karen. Now go to bed, you have a long morning or arguing with the IHOP waitress after church.
Glad to see you took the time to write a mean response but not the time to consider situations, such as the author described, that would warrant a situation requiring declawing. 🙂
I found this article to be very helpful and gave me a lot to think about before deciding to declaw 2 brothers we have. They were born in our house and will be indoor cats along with their mother. We recently had the boys neutered due to the horrifying marking and violent fighting behaviors (not sure which was worse). They also grew enormous in size, especially their heads. The bigger one started sneaking up behind me and attacking my arm. First cat I’ve ever had that bites, and I mean harsh bites. Thankfully the neutering has reversed the bad behaviors 100%. The declawing would be mainly for our furniture and the boys play rough sometimes and end up getting eye scratches requiring ointment. After reading your article, I feel like surgical declawing could be avoided with a little effort from us humans instead of laziness…I actually have some of the soft tip covers that I ordered a few months ago but they aren’t going to help as long as they sit in a drawer…Laziness
Fantastic, Laurie! So glad that you found the article useful. Ultimately, we don’t want our website to be judgmental and we believe that we can trust to make the right decision and we just want to provide helpful information to help them make that decision for themselves. Always a great decision to get pets spayed and neutered, especially for the boys that can be quite aggressive in their behaviors. Great to hear of your results and hope more good things to follow regarding the scratching. All the best & much health to your furry household!
I just had my cat laser declawed.
It was definitely NOT due to laziness on my part.
You should not label others as being lazy as you do not know a person’s reasons for doing so.
My husband is diabetic and can’t handle being scratched by our cat.
Trimming did not help. Soft Paws were a joke. (Good Luck with that!)
Two days after laser surgery, you would never know she had it done.
Recovery was awesome.
Did I enjoy doing this to my cat? Of course I didn’t. My eyes are still swollen from crying and I will feel guilty forever. I do however stand by my decision as it was the last choice I had.
Good Luck to you.
Karen, thank you for your thoughtful post and sharing your experiences with us. It is highly appreciated. We certainly agree that “one size does not fit all” and our kitty friends are as varied as we humans are and the best we can hope for is everyone to make the best informed decisions that they can for their circumstances.
Help me Karen! I’m in same position as you & mine has NOTHING to do with laziness either. I just had to euthanize (used “Lap of Love” – an in home, beautiful process compared to going to my vet-beautiful for our boy, but, yes, we adults were still traumatized after saying goodbye. Rascal was
my 16 year old domestic white who was declawed as a kitten & I never had any issues after the procedure. This was before the newer laser method. His brother Malcolm is going through pet grief & he’s lonely. We really want a companion for him & are in process of finding a rescue. How we’re you able to find a very in the US that still does this? Thank you for any help you can give me. Any of you who attempt to criticize me, feel free. I won’t be reading your msgs or responding. You’re not worth our time – we don’t need to defend ourselves for what is right for OUR FAMILIES
Lots of vets in the US still declaw cats. We had our two kitties declawed and neutered that the same time. Laser was used and they were right as rain the day after we brought them home. No sutures, dressings, or bleeding at all.
How did we find someone to do it? Well, we searched on Google and asked friends, which was tricky because we got so many lectures about why we were terribly cruel!! Most vets in the area wanted a fortune to declaw one kitten, let alone two. Then we found a not for profit veternary clinic not too far from us who would do it for a very reasonable cost. (Yes, they had board certified, well respected vets.)
When I went to make the appointment (you had to make it in person) I mentioned all the flack I was taking for wanting to have this done. The vet tech was wonderful!
“Don’t let anyone put you down for this. You have good reasons and they are YOUR reasons. This is YOUR decision and no one else’s business. We declaw because we want these kitties to have good, loving, homes and be kept off the streets by folks who want them and will love them. What would people rather have, homeless cats with claws or well loved kitties in good homes who have been declawed? We are just happy to see you give your “babies” a great home!”
Our kitties are real “people cats”. They have a great home and a good life. They play, run, romp, and enjoy life. As for us? We never get scratched, our house is intact, and we cuddle our kitties all the time.
Bottom line, is that it is the owner’s choice and there should be no judgment as long as the kitties are in a good home and well loved.
I recently adopted a stray kitten that a friend of my sister found. I have a 4 year old who loves all animals, his fathers new gf, (we’re divorced) is a groomer and has a small farm, pot belly pigs(6-7), goats(2) chickens (2-3) and has several dogs, a couple of cats, so he is around lots of animals. He plays with all these animals and we adopted this male kitty and both kitten and son play rough. And the kitty scratches my son, and the kitty likes to sneek attack me and play bites, its not hard but he digs his claws into me andI’m allergic to cats but I take allergy medication daily, but when he scratches me they always become ever itchy and irritated and more so than not become infected, even when I immediately wash with antibacterial soap and warm water. My son doesn’t seem to be allergic like I am, but he does get scratched often when they play. And our now about 3-4 months old kitten is scratching up my furniture, bedding, carpets and rugs, ugh… I’ve bought the scratching boards, the cardboard scratchers for him and the spray to help him learn to scratch at these places, but he still gets ahold of me and the scratches really hurt and I’ve been really looking into declawing BC of my severe allergy and his behavior. I had no idea about the claw covers, I think I will look into getting them and taking him and having them put on him, BC there is no way I can do it, because he doesn’t like anyone touching his paws, I don’t want to take the risk of being scratched up and having to go thru that much pain bc I know he will scratch me trying to clip and cover his claws. But I’m still interested in having him declared if the covers don’t work or depending on how long they stay and how often they have to be replaced.
I wasn’t so happy reading about the first way they decline, that sounds very painful and wrong, so I would probably be more happy with the option of the 2nd or 3rd choice, more likely the 3rf of laser removal, even though it’s more expensive, but would be less painful of our kitty… This article was very informative and helpful. Thank you so much
Hi Coby, thank you for sharing your experiences. Appreciate the detail in your response and it sounds like you’ve been mindful to do the right things. It’s still a challenging situation, I understand it’s ultimately a personal decision for the owner to make. The best we can hope for is to present the information and make sure owners make the best decision they can. Strays that haven’t had opportunity and time to get properly socialized can present challenging situation. Hopefully, maybe some additional steps, socialization, and even behavior modification on the human’s part can be good solutions. We with you & your family the best with your kitty and hope for the best outcome for all.
Good Luck with the claw covers.
I had my vet apply them to my cat.
Two hours later, she had chewed all but two of them off.
I ordered Soft Paws online.
I applied them but just as before, they were chewed off within hours.
Sadly, I had to have my cat’s claws removed by laser. (Husband is diabetic and our cat would do a number on his hands)
Her recovery was awesome.
I do believe she will forgive me.
Am on side line of getting my Fiona declawed. Am also diabetic and she scratches me alot, and she draws blood when she does it and it take me forever to heal. I also just moved and she has holes in my new window screens and is scratching up furniture and carpet. I tried feliway it didn’t work for scratching. But it help calm her down that’s it
I just adopted a Bengal cat, 4 yrs old.
I’ve always had cats, usually, Siamese.
My, Gabby, gets a bit more playful, attacking my ankles and arms-spray water bottle is great, she sees it and backs off.
My concern, I’m now a senior citizen, and my 2 toddler grandsons come over. No problems, but I do closely watch them.
I considered declawing her, until I read your article and learned what the procedure actually does to the cat. In the long-run, if I had to, I would have it done with a laser.
Thank you so much for this information!
Thanks for the feedback, Vickie. Gabby sounds like a playful girl, enjoy. 🙂
David, this is very good information! I recently rescued a Siamese cat and keep him indoors. He has a bit of a mean streak and likes to scratch everything (including people). I have tried the plastic nail tips but he is constantly trying to chew them off. I am considering declawing and appreciate all the comments in this thread. Do you know if any veterinarians in Northern California still perform the declaw procedure? I hear that the laser procedure is more humane? Just curious about options.
Thank you for the feedback, Todd. There are a good number of vets and clinics that perform the laser declaw procedure. Where are you located exactly? Yes, scientific studies have shown more positive outcomes from the laser procedure in both less chance for short-term and long-term issues commonly associated with declawing.
The stress and cost of having our other cats and small dog repaired are considerable, as are the cost of stitches for I and my wife. The aggressor is young and only playing, but the blood and torn flesh is quite real. Having a cat’s claw driven 1/4″ into the joint of your small finger and pulled down strongly with the cat’s entire weight is memorable.
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Yes it is true we should think before we judge others. The life you have in your own mind is not the same life others have. So stop judging people. This article is very helpful. I wil be declawing my cat ( who is family to me ) primarily because it has deformed toes and the claw inbetween has ingrown and now stabs my cat causing her great pain. The left paw is already infected. Therefore having Luna declawed is actually for her benefit. An no we cannot clip that section because it’s extremely difficult as the claw is naturally shaped like a disk. Thank you David Fields for this article, and hopefully the comment section will think before they speak on other peoples life choices.
Is there a website you can direct me to that lists local verteranarians in my local are and which options their office life? I life in Minneapolis, MN. Zip code is 55426. Thanks in advance,
Hi Nicole, I think the best way to get this info is to simply go to maps.google.com and type in veterinarian and you will get a dynamic list of everyone around you and all of their information, reviews, etc.