How Much Does It Cost to Declaw a Cat? Is It Legal?

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: September 13, 2023
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The toe beans get you every time. But from them emerge some tiny daggers. Yes, they can be a nuisance but they’re a basic part of your kitty’s anatomy. Still, you might be exploring your options for a scratch-happy cat. Discover how much it costs to declaw a cat. Plus, learn if it’s even legal.

Do Vets Declaw Cats Anymore?

Although declawing a cat is not a legal procedure in many parts of the world, in the United States and in Canada, it continues to be legal. Vets do perform this procedure but many of them are opposed and seek out alternatives to declawing cats. The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests several alternatives, which include nail trims, training, and even nail caps.

In Which States Is it Illegal to Declaw a Cat?

In the U.S., there are two states where the practice of declawing a cat is banned. Those states include New York and Maryland.

When Should a Cat Be Declawed?

According to the ASPCA, the only situation in which a cat should be declawed is when all other alternatives have been exhausted and the cat is at risk for euthanasia. A cat requires its claws, and they use them both offensively and defensively. When declawing is performed, cats lose the nail bed of each front toe along with the nail. It’s an amputation process that requires anesthesia. Once the surgery is performed, a cat can no longer regrow their claws. There are multiple complications that may occur including infection, excessive bleeding, and the pain and trauma of losing vital parts of their bodies.

cat in backyard

A cat that claws at you or your furniture is frustrating. But declawing is a last resort.

©iStock.com/mellangatang

Cost of Declawing a Cat

The cost of declawing a cat may cost anywhere between $600 to $1,800 though most vets suggest you try alternatives first. This procedure, if advised, should be completed before the cat reaches six months of age as it minimizes the trauma the cat experiences. However, there may still be complications as the procedure requires anesthesia and has long-term effects.

What Can I Do Instead of Declawing?

Regular Nail Trims

Part of grooming a cat involves clipping their nails regularly. This prevents them from growing extremely sharp. When they grow too long, they can scratch during play, they can tear through clothing or bedding, or damage furniture. Blunting the tips ensures that your cat isn’t walking around with needle-like claw tips.

Scratch Pads and Posts

Another method to help your cat keep their own nails from becoming too sharp is to provide scratching pads and posts. Cats naturally gravitate to these areas to scratch (especially if you entice them with a bit of catnip). This way, they are not damaging your furniture while practicing this natural behavior.

scratching post for cats

Scratching pads and posts can help redirect your cat’s scratching habits.

©rossella/Shutterstock.com

Double-Sided Tape on Furniture

Oftentimes, those who have cats complain that their cats scratch their expensive furniture. However, you can redirect a cat’s scratching. If you set up scratching pads and posts throughout the home, you can also use double-sided sticky tape on the areas where you don’t want your cat to scratch. Setting this up protects your furniture because once your cat realizes that it’s sticky, it stops gravitating to that area. Often, you can remove the double-sided sticky tape after your cat has learned that the furniture is off-limits. This can take as little as a couple of weeks or as long as several months.

Nail Caps

Nail caps are another option that you can request from your veterinarian. These are soft caps that go on top of your cat’s natural claws, preventing them from being sharp against your skin, other pets in the home, or your furniture. Even if your cat does scratch, the tips are blunt and covered and can do no damage. This requires regular upkeep as they need to be removed and reapplied every couple of weeks.

The veterinarian puts special silicone caps on the cat's claws. Doctor's hands in gloves close-up. Protection from scratches and damage to furniture.

Nail caps are an affordable and humane method of preventing your cat’s claws from creating damage.

©Dina da/Shutterstock.com

Training

Sometimes, scratching is a behavioral issue that can be assuaged with proper training. First, contact your veterinarian to determine if there is a physical component to the behavior. If it’s simply something behavioral, training is helpful to redirect the behavior. Usually, practicing more than one alternative helps to create better outcomes for all, resulting in a happier home with less stress for both of you.

How Do You Train a Cat Not to Scratch?

One of the most common mistakes cat parents make when trying to train a cat not to scratch is by reacting to the scratch. When a cat is trying to engage with you, they may accidentally scratch you when being a little bit too rough. This happens with kittens that are taken away from their litter much too early because they don’t learn limits with their littermates. Instead of responding or reacting at the moment, simply walk away and ignore your cat. Ultimately, what your cat is looking for is a response. Yelling and scolding, though a negative response, is still a response, which gives cats the outcome they’re looking for.

When your cat realizes that they’re not getting the attention they want from you by scratching, they stop engaging in the behavior. Your cat has a natural instinct to scratch so redirecting those scratching habits is also going to help your cat understand where the appropriate areas for scratching are. Supply your cat with plenty of scratch pads and scratch posts made of different materials. Some might be cardboard or sisal, and others may have carpeting. Add a bit of catnip to attract your cat to that area and use sticky tape on any objects that are not appropriate for your cat scratch. Ultimately, you’re using both deterrents and attractants while also responding to any scratching on your body by removing yourself and therefore removing the attention you’re giving them.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Nils Jacobi/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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