How Much Does it Cost to Declaw a Cat?

Last Updated on December 24, 2023
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Declawing a cat is a controversial procedure that removes a cat’s claws by amputating the end bones of their toes. While some pet owners choose to declaw their cats to protect furniture and stop scratching, many vets and animal welfare groups strongly oppose the practice as inhumane and unnecessary. So how much does it cost to declaw a cat and put it through this permanent, painful operation?

How Much Does it Cost to Declaw a Cat?

The average cost of declawing a cat ranges from $100 to $500 or more depending on several important factors, but more about this later on. Here’s a breakdown of typical costs:

  • Just the front paws: $100-$300
  • All four paws: $150-$400
  • With laser surgery: $200-$500
  • With general anesthesia: $150-$450

Some vets offer package deals where declawing the back paws only costs an extra $50 or so if you’re already doing the front. Non-laser surgical methods tend to be cheaper.

Expect to pay at the higher end at veterinary specialty centers and the lower end at rural clinics. Kittens and smaller cats also tend to cost less than bigger adults.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Declawing a Cat

Several factors go into determining the total cost of declawing a cat:

  1. The surgical procedure itself: This is the biggest portion of the total bill. Prices vary greatly depending on the vet, city, and declawing method used.
  2. Medications and antibiotics: Pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, and antibiotics are usually prescribed after surgery to manage pain and prevent infection. These add to the total cost.
  3. Type of anesthesia: General anesthesia is safest for declawing surgery but costs more than local anesthesia.
  4. Additional care needed: If there are post-op complications like infections or regrown nails, further treatment adds more costs.
  5. Number of paws declawed: Doing all 4 paws at once costs more than just the front two.
  6. Cat’s health and age: Declawing older or sick cats requires extra care which increases the price.
  7. Vet’s experience: More experienced vets often charge more for the procedure.
  8. Geographic location: Prices are generally higher in metropolitan areas than in rural areas.

Additional Potential Costs

Beyond the upfront surgical fees, additional costs often come up after and because of declawing a cat:

  • Anti-scratching products: $10-$30, to prevent issues with regrown nails
  • Treatment for complications: $100+ for infections or re-operation
  • Litter re-training: $20+ for different litters if the cat stops using the box
  • Behavioral problems: $100+ for treatment if the cat develops issues like biting after declawing
  • Recurring nail trims: $10-$25 every 4-6 weeks with a vet, if regrowth occurs

So realistically, the total cost of declawing a cat can run $200 to $1,000+ in the first year when aftercare and potential complications are factored in.

The Different Types of Cat Declawing Procedures

There are a few surgical methods vets can use to remove a cat’s claws. Each has pros and cons to consider when deciding which to get and comparing costs:

Type of Declawing Description Price Range ($) Pros Cons
Laser Declawing Uses a laser to cut through the last bone in the toe to detach the claw. Less bleeding and swelling. $200 – $500 More precision, faster healing Most expensive method
Guillotine Trimming A guillotine-like nail trimmer clips off the last bone in one chop. Stitching isn’t required. $100 – $350 Quick, relatively affordable Higher bleeding risks
Scalpel Amputation A scalpel detaches the claw by surgically removing the last toe bone. Stitches close the wound. $150 – $350 Precise, mid-range cost Longer surgical time
Resco Nail Clipper Specialized tool using a tight clamp to crush the last toe bone so the claw detaches when twisted. $250 – $400 Minimal bleeding High equipment cost

According to Fveap.org, the price to declaw a cat ranges from $200 up to $800, or even higher. They say that the cost can vary according to many factors, such as the vet, the age of the cat, or which technique is used.

Spotpetins.com says that it may cost up to $1,800 to declaw a cat, including additional expenses such as anesthesia, consultation, and post-op care. The actual declaw procedure may cost $600. Several factors can add to the expenses, such as the cat’s age and the need for transportation.

Northernilcatclinic.com notes that you should expect to pay between $200 and $500 for a declaw depending on the age and weight of your cat.

Talk to your vet about the options to choose the method with acceptable risks, healing, and cost for your cat.

Should You Declaw Your Cat?

With the wide range of prices and risks, is declawing worth it for your family and cat? Here are some things to think over:

  • Declawing provides no medical benefits – it’s done for owner convenience, unlike spay or neuter.
  • It’s illegal in over 20 countries and opposed by most veterinarians.
  • Alternatives like trimming nails and scratching posts avoid permanent maiming of cats.
  • Post-op pain, nerve damage, and litterbox avoidance are common complications.
  • Without claws for self-defense, cats may turn to increased biting and aggression.
  • Recovery takes several painful weeks, and long-term issues like arthritis can develop.
  • Declawed cats have a higher risk of surrender, as owners don’t want to handle complications.

With a wide range of humane alternatives available today, cat declawing is ethically questionable and hard to justify except in very rare medical circumstances.

Thoroughly research its lifelong impact instead of choosing declawing as a quick fix for unwanted scratching. With some simple training, any cat can learn to happily coexist in your home with its claws intact.

Is Declawing Cats Still Legal?

While banned in some parts of the world, cat declawing remains legal in most of the US and Canada as of 2023. However, more and more veterinarians actively discourage it except as an absolute last resort. Instead, they point cat owners to safer scratch deterrent options and training tactics.

What Does Declawing Mean?

Contrary to the name, declawing is actually an amputation that removes each front toe’s last bone and claw down to the first knuckle. This requires anesthesia and prevents claws from regrowing forever. Another unethical procedure is the dog debarking surgery.

Potential complications include pain, bleeding, infection, and emotional trauma from losing vital body parts.

What Are Safer Alternatives to Declawing?

Before considering such a permanent and intrusive procedure, cat owners should exhaust all alternative training strategies and deterrents first:

  • Provide scratching posts – Redirects natural behavior to appropriate areas
  • Apply sticky tape on furniture – Discourages scratching undesirable surfaces
  • Try nail caps – Covers claws to remove sharpness rather than body parts
  • Consistent nail trimming – Blunts sharp tips before getting too long
  • Ignoring attention-seeking scratches – This removes the reward and stops the behavior

Cat declaw costWhile declawing may seem a simple solution, the risks and consequences warrant considering all other options first. Proper training paired with outlets for natural scratching instincts keeps both cats and home furnishings happier and safer.

How to Save Money on Declawing a Cat

Here are some tips to reduce the costs if you decide to declaw your cat:

  • Ask your regular vet for an estimate – established clients often get discounts.
  • Ask about any promos or first-time customer offers if using a new vet.
  • Only do the front paws to save significantly on surgical fees.
  • Opt for a scalpel/guillotine method over laser which costs more.
  • See if your vet offers package deals for multiple paws.
  • Use general meds instead of branded pain meds like Onsior to save on medications.
  • Check prices at low-cost vet clinics, mobile vets, and SPCA hospitals which are often cheaper.
  • Buy anti-scratching nail caps instead of declawing back paws.
  • Prevent complications proactively with an e-collar and litter re-training.
  • Purchase health insurance to possibly cover costs if complications develop later.

Is Cat Declawing Covered by Pet Insurance?

Pet health insurance plans often specifically exclude declawing as a pre-existing condition if the surgery occurs before enrollment. Some insurers consider elective procedures like declawing ineligible for coverage.

That said, it’s worth checking individual policies. Some plans may cover:

  • Pain meds, antibiotics, lab tests, x-rays, or other declawing aftercare IF the surgery happens after enrollment.
  • Treatment for post-op complications like infections or lameness after policy activation.
  • Alternative training tools like nail caps instead of back paw declawing.

If your cat already had a complication-free declaw, insurance likely won’t help pay for a future problem related to that prior surgery. But plans can still cover declaw-related issues for newly enrolled kittens.

Final Words

Declawing a cat is an ethically controversial amputation procedure costing $100 to $500+ on average. But the ultimate expense is your cat’s health, behavior, and quality of life if complications develop. With low-cost alternatives available to stop undesirable scratching, avoid permanently disabling your beloved cat and opt for humane trimming and training instead.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *