Laser Declawing vs. Traditional Declawing


Owning a kitten or cat can be fun and exciting. However, as lovable as cats are, they can also be very destructive when they reach the age where they start using their claws for something other than scratching themselves. In some cases, young children are scratched by cats for one reason or another. Cats and kittens have a habit of sharpening their claws or using their claws to help them climb.

Both of these habits can result in furniture and other household items being damaged or destroyed. Many cat owners make the choice to declaw their cats. While some owners find declawing cruel and inhumane, others find it a necessity when having an indoor cat. Scratching in a natural instinct for cats, and declawing (onychiectomy) is often the only alternative. The biggest decision for these cat owners is generally whether to use a traditional declaw procedure or a laser declaw procedure.

What Declawing Entails

Most people think of declawing as a procedure that involves not only clipping the nail but also removing the nail so it can’t grow back. This is only part of the process. Declawing actually involves removing or disarticulating the bone by the last joint or a good part of the bone. It removes not just the nail but also the tissues in which the nail was attached. Sound simple enough? It may appear simple from a surgical standpoint, but it can result in various side effects, including chronic pain, biting tendency, nerve pain and arthritis.

What is Laser Declawing?

The laser declaw method has become very popular in recent years. Despite its higher cost, declawing with lasers is much simpler than the traditional declawing. It’s similar to traditional declawing in that it removes the third toe bone. However, the toe bone is removed with a laser and not a scalpel. Many vets feel that laser declawment is not just the more modern method of declawing but also the preferred method.

Laser Declawing vs Traditional Declawing

The dilemma of the laser declaw method vs traditional declawing has been going on since the start of laser procedures. Because of the high cost of laser medical equipment, using lasers may be the simpler method, but it is also more expensive. A traditional declawing typically costs about $100 depending on the vet. Cat owners can expect to pay from $200 to $400 more when they use the laser procedure. With both methods, there may also be additional fees depending on the vet. In most cases, it’s a matter of personal preference.

There is less chance for post-operative infection when declawing with a laser. With traditional declawing, the surgical site is sutured shut or glued together. When declawing a cat with laser, the area is cauterized, which generally results in less bleeding.


There are a few similarities between laser declaw procedure and the traditional declawing procedure.

Both procedures involve removal of the third toe bone or, at least, a part of the third bone.

  • In both cases, the cat will no longer have claws.
  • In both cases, the cat will no longer need to have its nails trimmed. With both procedures, the nails will not grow back.
  • Cats can have lasting effects with both procedures.


There are several differences between laser and traditional declawing.

  • Traditional declawing, whether the clipper method or the disarticulation method, causes discomfort for the cat.
  • Traditional causes more bleeding.
  • Laser declawing may not even require a bandage.
  • The cat may be required to spend the night at the vet clinic after a traditional declaw procedure.
  • The cat typically needs pain medication after a traditional declaw procedure.
  • Using lasers for declawing is more expensive.
  • Laser method requires less healing time.
  • Cats who had claws removed by the traditional method need a specific type of cat litter to prevent infection. Cats with laser declawing do not.


Tendonectomy is surgical procedure some cat owners are choosing as an alternative to a traditional and laser method of declawing. Rather than remove the bone, the tendon that is under each toe is cut to prevent the grasping motion a cat exhibits when scratching. The cat will still have his or her claws but will not be able to extend them. The claws will continue to grow but will grow in a circular motion. Although some veterinarians may recommend this method, cat owners often prefer the actual declawing procedure.