Ah, the declawing a cat debate. The question of whether or not to declaw a cat has raged on for years, with people on both sides of the fence feeling quite strongly about their positions.

Declawing should not be confused with clipping or cutting a cat’s claws. Trimming your pet’s nails is temporary; they will grow back. However, declawing is a surgical procedure that permanently removes a cat’s claws. Most of the time, declawing is done on the cat’s front two feet only, though sometimes the claws on all four feet are removed.

The most common argument against declawing is based on the belief it’s unnatural to remove the claws, which are a cat’s defense mechanism. Declawed cats cannot play or explore outdoors because they cannot defend themselves against other animals.

There is also the common belief that declawing is necessary to keep a cat from scratching up furniture and other household items; however, several painless declawing alternatives exist, such as spraying the cat with water or slipping “nail caps” over each of the cat’s individual claws.

Declawing can be a painful procedure that’s rarely medically necessary. In fact, some veterinarians are morally opposed to declawing and refuse to do it. On the other hand, people in favor of declawing argue that it will allow more cat owners to keep their cats and encourage more people to consider adopting cats that need homes.

sleeping cat

Some cat owners have immune deficiencies that make cat scratches dangerous to their health. Declawing the cat will reduce the chance that these owners will come into contact with the bacteria on their cat’s claws. People who are concerned about the pain of being scratched by a cat might be more willing to adopt a cat if they knew the cat’s claws were removed.

Many people are concerned about cats scratching their furniture. Declawing will reduce the damage a cat can do to expensive couches and chairs. Unlike “nail caps” and similar devices, declawing is a permanent solution to this common concern. It is also important to think about the price in question, so how much does it cost to declaw a cat?

The Declawing Procedure

The Declawing Procedure

Many people are under the impression that declawing is a simple procedure. The truth is that declawing is a surgical amputation of the cat’s toe joints. Unlike human fingernails, which are connected to our flesh, cat claws are connected to bone. In order for the claws to be removed, part of the bone in the cat’s foot must be removed too.

There are three procedures for declawing a cat. The first, called disarticulation, is the traditional method of declawing, using a surgical scalpel. The second method, called an onychectomy or Resco Clipper procedure, uses a special “guillotine” tool to remove the claw. The third and newest method is laser surgery.

Disarticulation and the Resco Clipper methods are more painful and involve a longer recovery period, than laser declawing. However, they are less expensive than laser surgery. Because laser surgery is a new procedure, though, not all vets offer it, and those that do may not have very much experience with it.

Besides cost and pain, other factors must be considered when choosing a declawing procedure. These include the age, weight, and overall health of the cat. You should talk with your vet to decide on the best procedure for your cat’s individual situation.

How Much Does It Cost to Declaw a Cat?

How Much Does It Cost to Declaw a Cat

The question “How much does it cost to declaw a cat?” involves more than a financial cost. Declawing is a surgical procedure, and all surgeries have risks. Declawing may take a toll on your pet’s health. Without front claws, your cat cannot defend itself from other animals if it gets outside. Being restricted to the indoors can be a quality of life cost for a cat that’s used to exploring freely outdoors.

If you’ve decided that declawing is the right choice for you and your cat, then money comes into play. The three declawing procedures can range in cost from $100-$500.

This is just the cost of the surgery itself, however.

Besides the price of the surgical procedure, don’t forget to consider the other costs involved. Most veterinarians won’t perform surgery on a cat that they haven’t examined, so keep the examination cost in mind. This cost might be around $50, though in some places it will be higher.

Since declawing is a surgery, surgical expenses must be covered as well. Anesthesia may cost anywhere from $50 to over $100. Your cat will need to stay overnight in the veterinarian’s clinic for monitoring after the procedure, so you will also be charged the veterinarian’s fee for overnight stays.

Finally, your cat will need painkillers and, if your vet recommends them, antibiotics to help your pet heal after the surgery. The cost of these medicines can vary.

cat paw

Declawing is a procedure that directly affects your cat’s health. While it makes sense to shop around and compare prices charged by different vets, remember that you can’t put a price on your pet’s comfort and safety.

If you don’t already have a vet you trust, call or email vets in your area and ask for an estimate for declawing, including the “extras” such as anesthesia. While contacting vets for price estimates, though, don’t forget to ask about the vet’s level of experience. How many years has the vet been performing this procedure? Do they have a preferred method for declawing? If so, why do they prefer that method to the other two?

These questions are especially important when it comes to comparing laser surgery declawing with the older methods, onychectomy (Resco Clipper) and disarticulation.

Laser surgery is the most expensive declawing procedure; however, it is less painful than the other two methods and has a shorter recovery time. Keep in mind that the laser method is still new though. This is both a benefit and a drawback; while laser declawing uses the most up-to-date technology, veterinarians haven’t had as much time to practice with it as they have the Resco Clipper and disarticulation methods.


The other side of the coin is also worth taking into consideration: just because a veterinarian doesn’t offer laser surgery doesn’t mean their training is out of date. Declawing done by a veterinarian with years of experience practicing Resco Clipper or disarticulation might be worth more than laser declawing if that doctor’s experience makes you more confident about leaving your pet in their hands.

To help ensure that you’re getting a reliable vet to perform surgery on your pet, consider asking friends or neighbors for vet recommendations. Choosing a vet who’s received a “thumb’s up” from a trustworthy friend might be a better value in the long run than going with a vet who just offers the lowest price for declawing. Don't let the question of "how much does it cost to declaw a cat" cloud your judgment. 

Pros and Cons

Many cat owners have passionate opinions on the declawing debate. Below is a list of common pros and cons to declawing. However, it’s a good idea to create your own pro and con list based on your own situation and your cat’s health and personality.


  • Makes it easier for some people to get over the fear of being scratched by cats
  • Reduces the likelihood that people will come into contact with the cat’s claws
  • Prevents damage to furniture from scratching
  • A permanent solution to scratching
  • Can make a cat that’s up for adoption more appealing to some potential pet-owners


  • It's a major surgical procedure: the amputation of part of the cat’s toes; some people believe the pain and risk of surgery aren’t worth it for something that’s not required for their cat’s health
  • Many “extras” will be added to the base cost of the procedure
  • A cat’s claws are their natural defense mechanism
  • Prevents a cat from safely going outdoors
  • May not be needed if the cat can be trained to stop scratching


“How much does it cost to declaw a cat?” On the surface, this sounds like a simple question. Money-wise, it is simple. Emotionally, however, it’s not so simple. Declawing is a controversial topic among cat owners, and for good reason.

Declawing is a non-medically necessary amputation surgery that results in the loss of a cat’s natural defenses. Declawed cats are unlikely to survive for long outdoors. On the other hand, a declawed cat can make a good indoor companion because it cannot scratch its owners, the owners' families, or expensive furniture. In this way, declawed cats might make a more appealing indoor pet than cats with claws.

If you’ve concluded that declawing is the best option for you and your cat, then the financial aspect of the procedure comes into play. It’s hard to put a dollar amount on your pet’s safety. To make the question “how much does it cost to declaw a cat?” easier to answer, search for an experienced, trustworthy veterinarian who can provide you with a clear estimate of all the costs associated with the declawing process.

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