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How Much Money Does Declawing Cats Cost?

March 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Cat Care Tips | 82 comments

Facts about declawing cats cost, benefits, and ethical issues

Cats scratch stuff. Declawing could be a way to save your stuff. How much does declawing cats cost, both in terms of money and potential problems with the procedure?

Cat declawing (also known as onychectomy) has caused quite a bit of controversy. It’s illegal in many countries and condemned by the Humane Society and the ASPCA. The cost of declawing a cat is not purely monetary. Cat lovers must consider the feelings of their cats before making a decision.

Wondering how much it costs to declaw a cat? This article explores cat declawing costs, benefits, and ethics, along with a few viable alternatives.

Monetary Cost

Monetary cost of declawing cats

Monetary Cost of Declawing Cats

Declawing is beneficial to the cat owner because it protects the furniture and the family. If your cat has a nasty habit of scratching everything, it may seem like declawing is the only option.

But how much does declawing cats cost? It depends on the procedure.

The Resco Clipper Method

The most common type of declawing is nail clipper onychectomy. It’s commonly called the “Resco clipper method.” This is the quick, cheap, and dirty way to remove a cat’s claws.

Basically, vets use a nail clipper (which is branded as a “guillotine” for a reason) to remove the nail bed and the toe joint containing it. This requires anesthesia, which could be harmful or even fatal to your cat. There is also a risk of complications, including infections and bleeding, and a possibility that the nail will grow back.

When using the Resco clipper method, the cost of declawing a cat can be anywhere from $40 to $300. The surgery is fast and easy, so it typically tends towards the low end of the spectrum.

Scalpel Disarticulation

The second method, disarticulation, eliminates the risk of nails growing back by removing the entire bone and the ligaments connected to it. This is more dangerous than the Resco clipper method because it requires a lot more anesthesia.

Like the Resco clipper method, disarticulation also costs somewhere between $40 and $300, but it’s usually a bit more expensive because it’s more complex and time-consuming. Don’t be surprised if your vet charges as much as $250.

Laser Onychectomy

Laser onychectomy is a fairly new declawing method that uses a laser to remove the toe bone and the nail bed. This method has some notable advantages:

  • It’s less traumatic and painful to your cat
  • There’s very little (if any) bleeding
  • There’s usually no need for bandages
  • The recovery time is faster

If you must declaw, laser surgery is much better for your cat. However, it is more expensive than disarticulation and the Resco clipper method. The equipment is very expensive, so don’t be surprised if declawing cats costs $100 or so more using laser declawing than the other methods.

Also, the laser technology has a large learning curve associated with it, so make sure that your vet has plenty of experience before committing to laser onychectomy.

Click here to move on to the issues and ethics of cat declawing.

Issues & Ethics

Ethics and issues of declawing a cat

Issues & Ethics of Declawing Cats

Declawing is very controversial. In many countries, declawing is either illegal or only allowed under extreme circumstances. These countries include France, Italy, England, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Germany, and many more.

Some cities in the United States have banned declawing. California has outlawed the declawing of exotic cats. The practice has been banned in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and a few more cities in California. In Norfolk, VA, it is illegal for anyone that is not a veterinarian to declaw a cat.

Clearly, declawing cats costs more than just money. Governments aren’t the only organizations that oppose declawing. Take a look at what Jean Hofve, DVM had to say in Declawing: A Rational Look:

Against declawing are the ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States, Massachusetts SPCA, Denver Dumb Friends League, San Francisco SPCA, SPCA of Texas, and the Animal Welfare League (the Midwest’s largest humane society, located in Chicago).

The SPCA of Los Angeles puts it in no uncertain terms: “We do NOT support, nor condone, the act of declawing cats. It is cruel, unnecessary, and inhumane.”

So What’s All the Controversy?

A lot of mythology and pseudo-science surrounds the issue of cat declawing. Some people claim that declawing causes drastic personality and behavior changes in cats.

This claim has very little supporting evidence, and some observations directly contradict the assertion. In Cat Owners’ Attitudes Toward Declawing, Gary Landsberg presents research in which roughly 70% of respondents reported an improved relationship with their cats after declawing.

Others claim that declawed cats stop using the litter box. This point is a bit more contested. After surgery, cat owners often replace the litter with shredded paper to help the cat heal. If Felix stops using the litter box, it’s not necessarily because he doesn’t want to use a litter box. Maybe he just doesn’t want to use his new litter box.

However, one survey demonstrated that 95% of calls about declawed cats concerned litter box issues. This is over twice the number of calls about their clawed counterparts.

In To Declaw or Not to Declaw, Veterinary Behaviorist Amy Marder dismissed those claims, stating, “Several studies have shown that declawed cats are no more likely to bite or develop house soiling problems.”

When you look beyond the money, many experts disagree and argue about the true nature of declawing cats costs, benefits, and ethics.

So What Are the Facts?

Although some of the claims against declawing are mythical or debatable, there are some compelling reasons to avoid declawing when possible:

  • The pain caused by removing a piece of bone is incalculable. Even if you pay a premium for laser onychectomy from a great veterinarian, your cat is still likely to endure pain and suffer long-term consequences
  • Surgeries carry risk. The vet could make a mistake. The anesthesia could be harmful or even fatal
  • According to a study conducted at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1994, 50% of the 163 cats sampled had immediate complications after surgery
  • Around 20% developed additional complications after leaving the vet, including lameness, infection, and the nail growing back
  • Cats may damage joints or develop arthritis after surgery because of the way they shift their body weight off of their toes
  • Declawed cats are far less capable of defending themselves, so they should stay indoors at all times

The data speaks for itself. The costs of declawing a cat is way more than just monetary. It’s risky. It’s cruel. It’s mutilation. And it can cause some serious problems.

Sadly, there are some instances where it may be necessary. If the cat’s owner has a compromised immune system, declawing could be the only option.

If the cat is simply too much for the owner to deal with, declawing is better (or less bad) than euthanizing the kitty, taking him to the animal shelter, or releasing him to the wild. It’s the lesser of two evils.

Click here to learn about the alternatives to cat declawing.


There are several suitable cat declaw alternatives

Cat Declaw Alternatives

Declawing alternatives include providing a better place to scratch, nail trimming, paw padding, and tendonectomy.

Providing a Better Place to Scratch

Cat scratching is natural and instinctual. Cats need to scratch. The best way to stop your cat from scratching your stuff is to give her something cooler to scratch.

Get creative. Make your own cat scratcher or invest in cat trees that look like trees. Give your feline something ultra-scratchable. There is no need to worry about what cat declawing costs when Felix only scratches his own furniture.

How do you train cats to use the cat scratcher? It’s all about positive reinforcement. When kitty needs to scratch, move him to the scratching post. Reward him when he scratches on his own furniture, and never, ever punish him. A cat training clicker could be particularly effective.

Trim the Nails

Keeping your cat’s nails short might be enough to keep your home unscratched.

This video provides an excellent overview of how to do it:

Padding the Paws

Soft Paws™ are replaceable, vinyl caps that glue to your cat’s claws, protecting against scratching. They are affordable and comfortable, but you will have to continually replace them as your cat’s nails grow and they develop wear and tear.


Tendonectomy is a surgical procedure that prevents cats from extending their claws. It’s much kinder to cats than declawing. The procedure is almost painless. Recovery is quick and easy. The notable downside is that you will have to regularly clip your cat’s nails to prevent pain from improper growing.

Cat scratching and declawing


Typically, declawing cats cost anywhere from $40 to $300, although it may cost $100 or so more if you use laser declawing. Although declawing can help protect your home and family, it ought to be avoided whenever possible. The procedure is cruel and can result in some serious complications.

We highly recommend the alternatives above to keep your cat happy and your furniture intact. All of these methods have their own pros and cons, and we believe the cost of declawing cats is far greater than the benefits.

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82 responses to “How Much Money Does Declawing Cats Cost?”

  1. SnowDog says:

    I’ve seen a cat wake up after the surgery, and after watching it I don’t think I could ever bring myself to put a cat through that. It was the most miserable creature I’ve ever seen. The reactions it was having had to be distinguished between the grogginess of the anesthesia and the pain, but it was undeniably in a LOT of pain. Not worth it, to me.

  2. lovethecathatethehabit says:

    I have always been against declawing. Now I’m highly considering it. I have two cats. The younger of the two is nice and calm, he doesn’t get in much trouble at all besides the occasional couch scratch. The older one is becoming a maniac. She claws up everything, chews books to pieces, climbs and destroys screens and curtains and clothes… I’ve tried caps, I’ve tried clipping, she has a billion toys and scratching posts that she does in fact use and I’ve tried a spray bottle. Nothing is working, she thinks the spray bottle is a game, she’ll run upstairs when I squirt her and sneak back down and go right back to the bad thing she was doing when I turn around and look at me like “come on squirt me I dare you!!” I’ve never had a problem like this in the past and I feel like I’ve run out of options…

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