Declawing cats is one of the most controversial topics in the field of veterinary medicine. Views are varied amongst veterinarians and pet owners alike. The procedure is outright banned in many countries, and many US veterinarians will not perform the surgery.
However, there are some instances in which a pet owner needs to explore this option. These pet owners should carefully consider the options, risks, and the temperament and comfort level of their kitty. Doing the research will help you make the best decision for you and your furry family member.
How Much Does It Cost to Declaw a Cat?
The average cost of getting your cat declawed will be somewhere between $100 to $500. This price will vary based on many different factors, for example, the type of procedure you choose and other options you opt for with your veterinarian.
A procedure such as declawing requires that your cat be put under anesthesia, and this can make the process quite pricey. Prior to going under anesthesia, which can be dangerous for your cat, many vets will want to perform a full blood panel and physical to assess your cat’s health. Additional testing and office visits will add to the overall cost.
Veterinarians typically offer three different types of declawing methods: Onychectomy, disarticulation, and laser surgery. Laser surgery is the most expensive out of the bunch, but it is also the most humane option as it causes less pain and less bleeding.
During surgery, many vets have options that you can choose to help monitor your cat’s health while under anesthesia. This can include fluid hookups and other health monitoring precautions that may save your kitty’s life If something goes wrong. Again, these additional choices will add to the overall cost of the procedure.
After the procedure, your vet will likely want to keep your kitty for overnight observation and medication administration. Pain killers will be given to your kitty to help them through this painful recovery process. Surgical procedures all carry a risk of infection, so your vet will administer antibiotics as a preventative measure. All of these will carry their own charges as well.
Declawing is usually only performed on the front paws. Your vet might charge more if you would like all four paws declawed.
Process of Declawing
In order for you to make an informed decision on such an important matter, you should understand the process of declawing. There are three common methods that veterinarians use to declaw a cat.
This method is also called the Resco Clipper method. Your cat’s entire first toe joint, which includes the nail bed, will be removed with this method. Using guillotine-style nail trimmers, the veterinarian will cut the tips of the bones in each toe. The incision is closed with either glue or stitches.
This method is the quickest, so your kitty is not under anesthesia for too long. Unfortunately, the claw does grow from the clipped bone and it does have a slight risk of growing back with this method – leading to infection and repeated surgery.
In this method, the veterinarian will entirely remove the bones where the claws grow. A scalpel is used to disconnect the ligaments attached to the bones. Since the cat’s foot is completely altered, there is no risk of re-growth. Your cat will be under anesthesia longer with this method.
Laser removal is similar to the disarticulation method in that it removes the entire bone from which the claws grow. Again, this will eliminate the potential for re-growth. This method reduces the amount of bleeding pre- and post-surgery. It is also said that this method will be less painful for your cat in the long run.
Considerations Before Declawing Your Cat
As mentioned earlier, this is a highly controversial procedure. Making an informed decision requires that you understand your options as well as potential risks.
No matter which procedure option you choose, either partial or whole bone removal will take place. Comparatively, in a human, this would be like amputating your last carpal on your fingers. Unlike simply trimming nails or removing a nail, this is a major surgery that might not produce the behaviors you are expecting.
Like any surgery, there are complications and potentially dangerous reactions to anesthesia. The recovery period is particularly long and can involve excessive pain, permanent crippling, infection, or excessive bleeding.
Your cat may experience personality and behavioral changes after declawing. The claws are a cat’s first line of defense. Removing this defense mechanism may lead to anxious, aggressive, or fearful behavior. If your cat gets loose, they will not be able to defend themselves as well. Some cats resort to biting more frequently as a result.
Using grainy, clumping cat litter can also become extremely uncomfortable for your cat to use, and they may avoid the litter box as a result. This is a major concern after surgery but can continue after healing in rare cases.
Talk to your veterinarian about other options that you can try before getting your cat declawed. You or your vet can apply cat nail caps on your kitty’s nails that will prevent them from being able to damage your home with scratching. (read this article about scrape resistant boxes)
This will still allow them to perform instinctive scratching behaviors without the destruction. Your vet can also help you keep your cat’s nails trimmed.
If your cat plays roughly and you are worried about getting scratched, work with your vet to see what you can do to control their unwanted behaviors.
Although there is controversy surrounding declawing, your declawed kitty and you can lead happy lives. Some families have no other option but to declaw their cats.
Understand that the procedure is safe and most negative consequences will not happen as long as you follow proper aftercare instructions and focus on your kitty’s well-being while they relearn a life without claws. Also, keep in mind that it is illegal in some states so first talk with your veterinarian about declawing your cat and make the best decision for you and your feline friend.