How Much Does It Cost to Declaw a Cat?

Lisa K. Campbell, DVM
curious kitty

Although there's some variation depending on your kitty's unique situation, the average cost to declaw a cat is between about $600 to $1,800. This number takes into account other costs that go along with this type of surgery. Veterinary costs vary widely, depending on what part of the country you are in. Information regarding additional costs or common complications can help pet owners find a tighter ballpark figure.

Approximate Cost to Declaw a Cat

The table below lists some common costs involved in a declaw procedure. These will vary in price depending on your particular clinic.

Procedure

Low End

High End

Physical

$50

$80

Declaw Procedure

$175

$600

Anesthesia

$65

$130

Antibiotics

$25

$50

Overnight Stays

$100/night

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Factors That Determine the Cost of a Cat Declaw

The cumulative cost of having a cat declawed depends on many factors. To receive a more reliable estimate, you will need to speak directly with your veterinarian. Your cat will need a full physical examination to determine his needs. Procedural costs can vary greatly between animal hospitals. Your cat's medical history will also be a factor in determining cost. A declaw procedure in a young, healthy cat will usually cost less than one in an older or overweight feline.

Physical Exam Before Your Cat Is Declawed

Prior to having your cat declawed, your veterinarian will examine your kitty to get a picture of his overall health and to determine which procedure will be used to remove the nails. The cost of the exam will vary. For example, a hospital in Los Angeles, CA may charge $65 for an examination fee prior to declawing. Another clinic in Albany, OR may charge around $50. Neither exam includes the cost of blood work, which can be as low as $65 for a presurgical panel and as high as $185 for a full blood panel with a urinalysis. Such tests are highly recommended prior to surgery to uncover whether your cat has any conditions that may affect his recovery.

Types of Procedures Used for Declawing

There is more than one surgical method to declaw a cat, so the cost will initially depend on the procedure you and your veterinarian choose. The medical term for declawing is onychectomy. Be aware that it is recommended that declawing is only performed on the front paws.

  • Scalpel blade/Nail trimmer - Priced at about $175 to $325. The veterinarian will surgically amputate the last bone of each toe and the associated claws using a guillotine-style nail trimmer or a scalpel blade.

  • Laser surgery - Priced between $350 and $600. A surgical laser is used to amputate the bone and associated claws. This is the most expensive method of declawing a cat; however, it's believed to be less painful in the immediate post-operative period. The risk of post surgical bleeding is also less. However, it is extremely important that the vet performing the laser procedure be very experienced using the equipment because it's possible to burn the tissues during the process.

Charge for Anesthesia

The longer the procedure, the more anesthetic is needed to keep your cat completely asleep. Your cat's weight also plays a role in determining the amount of anesthetic used. Many vets prefer to declaw kittens under 6 months of age. However, some vets will declaw cats up to the age of five. The amount of anesthetic required and the charge to provide will vary in both cases. Most animal hospitals will include the cost of anesthesia within their overall charge. However, this can often elevate the cost greatly, so be sure to ask about it during your cat's initial consultation.

Cost of Overnight Stays

Some vets prefer to perform the surgery early in the morning and keep the animal in recovery at the clinic until late afternoon. In other cases, it may be necessary to keep the cat at the clinic overnight. Overnight charges add to the cost of the procedure. The length of time your cat remains within the clinic can be a significant portion of the entire cost. How long your cat has to stay depends on which type of procedure is used. Whether your cat is being spayed or neutered at the same time can also affect the length of hospitalization.

Antibiotics

Any surgical procedure carries a risk of infection. Your veterinarian may administer an antibiotic injection at the time of surgery. In some cases, oral antibiotics are also prescribed for a period of time after the surgery. This is to prevent a future infection. The cost of the medication depends on the antibiotic used and the size of your kitty.

Pain Killers

Declawing includes a painful recovery period for your cat, and pain medication is necessary to help them through the process. Pain management may be delivered orally, by an injection at the clinic, or in the form of a medicated patch. Sometimes all three methods are utilized. The cost of these methods varies widely according to the type of medication used, and how long your pet is required to take it. Many clinics will include the cost of such medications within a flat procedural fee. Be sure to ask if pain medication is included in the cost of your estimate.

Choosing a Cost Effective Clinic

Declawing costs are as individualized as the methods used and the fee structure of the particular veterinary clinic. There are reasons why one procedure will run a pet owner several hundred dollars less at one clinic vs another. Most of these reasons deal with the numerous items that are billed separately, such as medications, blood tests, and hospitalization.

Essential Questions

Your cat's personal recovery time can easily exceed the estimate provided by a veterinarian. This is why it is extremely important for cat owners to ask detailed questions during the preliminary exam.

  • Which procedural method will be used?
  • What complications can arise as a result of this method?
  • Are there any contraindications to the method used?
  • What additional costs may be incurred as a result of any complications?

Deciding on a Declaw Procedure

The decision to declaw your cat is an important one and can be quite costly. Don't be afraid to comparison shop for clinics. It is unlikely you will be able to sit down with several veterinarians without incurring multiple exam/consultation fees. Equip yourself with a fundamental knowledge of just what affects major price differences. This can help you discern what costs are justified, and what may be arbitrary. However, where any type of surgical procedure is concerned, the efficiency, competence, and compassion of your veterinarian as well as the care of your cat should always take priority over the cost.

How Much Does It Cost to Declaw a Cat?