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 around $800 or more, depending on your cat, the veterinarian practice, and other potential costs.