Ask the Pet Expert: The Truth About Cat Declawing

Of the cats she sees at Riser Animal Hospital in Skokie, Illinois, Dr. Ingrid Baksys estimates 50 to 60 percent are declawed. Many cat owners do this because they are concerned about their household getting scratched up.

“They don’t want the animal scratching furniture, and because it’s normal behavior for a cat to want to do that, they declaw them,” she says.

Baksys says some families with small children also choose to declaw their cat so that rowdy toddlers don’t get scratched.

“It’s not something I love to do, but if it helps get more cats adopted, then I’m for it,” she says.

The Cat Declawing Process

Baksys says that claw removal is actually an amputation. Similar to human nails on human fingers and toes, a cat’s claws are embedded into their paws.

Most cat owners opt to have only the front two paws declawed. The cost of a two-paw declaw is anywhere from $250 to $400, and usually an additional $100 to do all four claws, Baksys says.

The surgery involves anesthesia, a short recovery time at the hospital, and quite a bit of soreness for your cat.

“It’s about as uncomfortable as you would expect,” she says.

The newest method in cat declawing is using a laser. Baksys says laser declawing is less painful for the cat and causes less bleeding during surgery.

After surgery, a cat will start to feel like herself again after a week or so, and will be fully recovered in two to four weeks, Baksys says.

Declawing Alternatives

Baksys says training your cat to use a scratching post, instead of your furniture, is one way to avoid declawing and having your couch turned to shreds.

Some cat owners simply keep their cat’s claws very short, and it works for them, she says.

A product called Soft Paws is also another alternative Baksys recommends. Soft Paws are plastic caps that you fill with adhesive and slide over a cats claws. They even come in fun colors. Even though the caps eventually fall off and have to be reapplied, Baksys says Soft Paws has definitely helped some of her cat owners out.