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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.

Alternatives

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

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

Conclusion

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. Scout says:

    Wow. So much information. Well my wonderful cat just scratched my brand new furniture that I just replaced because he used the old ones as a scratching post. I couldn’t believe it! I am really considering declawing him now as I don’t think he will change or can help himself. He is 5 years old. Is it too late?
    Scout recently posted..7 Awesome Online Cat Games and Dog Games

  2. At my wits end says:

    I waited and waited, but my cat simply refuses to stop shredding everything in sight. Carpet, furniture, walls, clothing if he can get to it, and literally anything in my house that he can reach. I’ve tried pretty much everything, and the best outcome I could manage was to slow his habitual destruction of everything by keeping a spray bottle of ice cold water handy. That works for about half an hour (and as long as I am home) before he’s at it again. I’m getting him declawed tomorrow and will have no regrets about doing so, given that he’s had every opportunity in the world to change his behavior.

  3. cat owner says:

    My cat ruined my sac. Yes, I was catsacced

  4. Linda says:

    Thanks for all your input about declawing…I just received my 4 months old females and they are so sweet. They have appt tomorrow to get declawed. My daughter at one time had 4 cats and they destroyed her furniture….don’t want to go through that….they have been putting their claws on the couch, but stop when I tell them no no….but I know when they get older that no no may not matter…just saying…the laser does sound better, but more expensive…..but may be worth it, because of healing time and less painful… I will check with the vet tomorrow about it…..thanks everyone for your help.

  5. krissy says:

    I am so sick of people acting like a spray bottle with water is the answer to all of the cat problems. My cat happens to love water so the spray bottle method has never worked. My cat scratches under the bed at all hours of the night. Then it runs around under the bed making it impossible to get him out from under it. Once he is out we lock him outside the bedroom.Then he scratches at the door all night. Just like an above comment the cat will attack paper towels toilet paper the couch the walls and anything else it can get its paws on.i have tried putting tin foil on the things i dont want him to scratch and he just claws right through it. I have a tin can filled with coins that i used to shake loudly at him when he was doing things that i didnt like and it worked for a short time but now has not been working so well lately. He has cat scratching posts and beds all over the house but doesnt use them as scratching posts he lays on them and ignores the ones hanging from door knobs and continues to scratch the door right next to them. I am at the point where i am putting the cat in the basement for the night just so it doesnt annoy us while sleeping but i feel bad doing that. I dont think that the basement is the safest place for the cat to be. Now with a kid on the way i have to think of something because he does most of his scratching at night and i dont want it disturbing the baby. What other alternatives are there? I am not giving the cat away because i already rescued him as a kitten. He was hours away from being put to sleep and i fear that will happen if I bring him back to the shelter.

  6. I love pets…and I am ready to have one. I am still thinking about getting a dog versus a cat and love them both. All of your comments, for or against declawing have been very helpful! I have leather furniture and the cat scratching was the main deterrent. My work schedule is unpredictable and cannot have a routine to take a dog out…I think leaving them unattended would be worse. The kitty is starting to look like a better option. I think if I save money and use the best procedure, it will be humane to rescue a kitty and give him or her a good and loving home.

  7. Sol says:

    We adopted two cats when they were kittens. Both were neutered and declawed. No issues with them at all. As much as others don’t like the idea of declawing, if you want your family and cats to get along, sometimes this may be the only option. Funny that we don’t have any issues neutering or spaying these animals even though, these organs originally belonged to them. Last time I check, these are also acts of mutilation.

  8. Pilm says:

    Had my cat declawed the old and very painful way and he was just fine. However the cost now-a-days for declawing is kind of crazy, best to just do it yourself, but make sure you give your cat knock out drops beforehand, then it’ll be a piece of cake! Have fun!

  9. rdsii64 says:

    I have 4 cats. they have ruined an entire set of living room furniture. I came to own these cats because my wife stopped and picked up stray kittens in middle of the road one night. I don’t know a lot about delcawing but I’m going to find out the pros and cons before I put anymore furniture in my house. If declawing really turns out to be something I can’t abide, then these cats are shelter bound. Thats going to suck because I really like the little critters. I just don’t like them enough to live in a house with no furniture.

  10. amber says:

    I think I don’t have a choice. My cat doesn’t intentionally scratch me but when she does I get cat scratch fever every time. This is probably the eighth time and each time means heaps of pain and loads of heavy antibiotics. These tiny scratches grow exponentially and take months to heal! My kids and I love our cat but I can’t take it anymore. I either have to declaw her or get rid of her. She’s a wonderful cuddly cat but when she cuddles me her nails get me. I’ve already rescued her from the streets, I can’t give up on her now. She’s so happy with us. I really see no other choice but because of this website I at least know I have to look for laser procedure for her. Thanks for the info!

  11. dolast says:

    for all you folks against declawed, would you rather them put down at a shelter. just sayin

  12. Michele says:

    I just found a cat. She is sweet and loving. She is starting to tear things up and there is no way I will keep an animal that destroys my home. I feel it is much more humane to declaw her (she will never go outside)then to send her to a shelter. My other cats have had happy, long lives and they were all declawed. Once declawed, she will be mine forever.

    The laser method is what wse are choosing.

  13. Secret says:

    Our first 3 cats were declawed and never had any issues. We now have 3 new kittens none of which are declawed. We have learned to clip them ourselves and they even allow us to file them. They do however still scratch the furniture and we are considering declawing them. Cats are real pets and are trainable. You must have time and patience with them!

  14. Dave says:

    Was looking for average price of declawing. Didn’t even realize there was such a thing as nail caps. I’m going with the caps. Thanks for putting the website up!

  15. Pamela says:

    I had a beautiful rescue Greyhound for nearly 9 years. She was a magnificent animal and the “best dog ever!”. When I lost my home last year and had to move into an apartment, I had to give her back to the rescue I got her from because she was a 70 lb. dog, and most apartments don’t allow dogs that big.

    Anyway, after that pet trauma, I decided I wasn’t going to have anymore pets. For the past year, I didn’t……until a couple of months ago. An adorable orange tabby boy (appx. 4 mos old) followed my daughter home. He was clearly a stray, and he was very sweet and friendly. I was hooked. I had him neutered at the humane society, because I didn’t want him to start spraying (as male cats tend to do). I now am being forced to consider de-clawing him for the same reasons as many have expressed here. He’s deadly with those things, and he is also a “shredder”. He already messed up the console of my new $2,000 leather recliner/loveseat. He is also destroying rugs and carpeting, and is leaving little pin holes in other pieces of furniture.

    I love this cat too much to give him up, or to let him wind up in a shelter (and by that I mean, euthanized). I can’t continue to let him destroy everything I have left, and I’ve tried the “spray bottle”, multiple scratching posts and other apparatus “slathered with cat nip”, and other things. He’s just a little destructo. He is leaving me almost no alternative other than to remove his claws.

  16. Pete says:

    I think that there are definitely situations that call for declawing. We have 2 cats and 2 dogs. They are all “family” to us, so as an alternative to losing one/two of our family members we are leaning towards the declawing option. Other than just scratching furniture, tearing up rugs and curtains, and climbing everything they can, they also run through the house with their claws out. This becomes a problem at 2am when they decide to run through the bed across my wife and I, and has caused serious injuries to arms, legs, and even face. One time they got me it was so close to my eyeball, my vision was blurry for a couple days. Now, we are trying to have a baby, and I will NOT want even the most remote possibility of this happening to our child(ren). As such, we have decided to move forwards with declawing them both.

  17. Keke says:

    I declawed my cats in the front only. They’re indoor cats, so it’s not like they have to defend themselves. They were not showing symptoms of pain after the procedure! It’s been 12 years, and they’re wonderful boys. No temperament problems or anything, and no destroyed furniture either.

  18. Evangeline Kiser says:

    If spaying and neutering are humane, then declawing done correctly is humane. Which affects a human more – a hysterectomy or removal of a toenail?

  19. mel says:

    Its so cruel to declaw a cat but people are ok with circumcising their child or peircing their ears. These procedures are of course forgotten. Your cat will forget too. Cats are domesticated animals. If they aren’t in our homes they are out running the streets which everyone complains about. If the cat’s going to be in my home he will be declawed. He’ll get over it. Cats are pretty tough cookies. People need to stop watching cartoons and assigning human traits to animals. If you want some suffering to spend your money and energy on check out what’s happening to people in the world every day. While it is noble to protect all innocent creatures, our nation devotes more attention and resources to real or imagined needs of animals than it does to the needs of

  20. mel says:

    Abused or needy PEOPLE living right here on our own soil.

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