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Laser Declawing: How it Differs from the Traditional Declawing of Cats

By Lea Jaratz


What You Should Know About Laser Declawing for Cats

While there is still much controversy surrounding declawing cats, and a growing advocacy for alternatives to declawing, the veterinary community seems to agree that laser declawing cats is a modern improvement to the traditional declaw. However, there are pros and cons of laser declawing, so here are a few things you should know if you’re considering having this done.

Similarities Between Laser and Traditional Declawing

In many ways, the traditional method and the laser method of declawing are similar. In both procedures, the third toe bone is removed. No matter how it is done, it is not just a “manicure,” but an amputation with risks involved. In both cases, cats may have lasting side effects, such as chronic pain, nerve damage, and litter box aversion associated with these issues.

How Laser Declawing Differs from Traditional Declawing

By performing the surgical amputation with a laser instead of a scalpel or clipper, laser declawing is generally considered safer and more humane. The laser cauterizes the incision, so there is no bleeding and no need to bandage the paws. Studies have also shown the laser method to be less painful, as the nerve endings are sealed, and cats won’t need to use a special litter during recovery to prevent infection. Overall, the laser method has fewer complications and reduces recovery time from about a week to a day or so.

And, in contrast to traditional clipper method, there is no risk of the claw growing back, requiring a second surgery. 

The downside to a laser declaw is that it is more costly than traditional methods. While the old-school method usually costs about $100 (give or take depending on your location and whether your cat is already under sedation for another procedure), the laser method usually starts around $250 and can go up to $400. There may be other exam fees or costs with either procedure, so it’s best to ask your vet first.

However, the additional cost is justified when you factor in that the clinic has made a $20,000 to $40,000 investment in the laser equipment, and that the vet must be specially trained to use it. Whenever financially possible, the additional comfort and safety of your cat is worth the extra expense.

Declawing in any form isn’t generally recommended as your first step when managing a cat’s claws, as there are lots of alternatives to declawing that you can try before going the surgical route. If you’ve exhausted non-invasive options, you can find a practice that provides laser declawing near you. 

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