Where and how much should I pay for my kitten to be neutered in New York City?
February 23, 2007 12:40 PM   Subscribe

I actually have a few related questions. I am 22 and a first time cat owner. It's come time for my adorable kitten Erwin Schrodinger to get neutered and possibly declawed. I'm living in NYC and am fairly clueless. I don't even know about how much each of these procedures should cost. I don't want to be cheap and risk his health, but I also don't want to pay through the nose, just because it's 'the city.' Basically, I'm looking for a competent, but mid-range vet recommendation, and an estimate about what is an appropriate cost for neutering alone and neutering/declawing. Could you guys help me out? Thanks!
posted by amileighs to Pets & Animals (46 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
neutering is very inexpensive and many organizations / agencies (i.e., county animal control, ASPCA, etc. will do it on a sliding scale.

Declawing, however, is generally considered to be extremely cruel - it is not just the removal of the claw, but the equivalent of cutting off the first joint of your or my fingers - and I'd advice you against it. As long as you have a jute scratching post, or one of those cardboard "alpine" wedges (sprinkle a bit of catnip on it), and/or trim kitty's front nails once a month Erwin shouldn't destroy any of your furniture.
posted by luriete at 12:48 PM on February 23, 2007


Where are you in NYC? You're going to want a vet local to you, because there will be a lot of ferrying back and forth with a kitten in tow.

Also, I ask you to please not declaw your cat. It'll hurt the cat and just make it bite more.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:49 PM on February 23, 2007


If you happen to be on the upper east side, go visit Dr. G at the Animal Health Center (1676 First Avenue, bet. 87th and 88th). I had my kitty (Annie) spayed there, and she turned out just great - the total cost for the spay, an overnight stay, a checkup, and her shots was just about $200.

I'll third (or whatever it is by the time this gets posted) the not declawing. Just get a pair of kitty clippers and cut them as needed. I cut Annie's claws every two weeks or so and she doesn't scratch and destroy anything.
posted by langeNU at 12:55 PM on February 23, 2007


Oh, and if I remember correctly, a neuter is slightly less expensive than a spay.
posted by langeNU at 12:56 PM on February 23, 2007


I had a cat spayed in Hoboken, NJ about 3 years ago and if I recall correctly, it was about $125. A neuter is generally less than a spay (as langeNU said).

And count me in as another declaw opponent. None of my cats (about 6 in my lifetime) have been declawed and I've never had issues with inappropriate scratching as long as scratching posts were made available. Catnip can be helpful with scratching post training.
posted by mezzanayne at 1:00 PM on February 23, 2007


My apologizes, Megafly. I didn't preview.
posted by mezzanayne at 1:01 PM on February 23, 2007


Low cost or free spay-neuter programs in NYC. Call someone as close to you as possible if you don't have a car or the money for a cab ride.

And don't declaw your cat, that's just cruel and unnecessary.
posted by cmonkey at 1:01 PM on February 23, 2007


Since you mention that you are a first-time cat owner, I will advise you that declawing is not necessary. I have two cats and a leather couch, and they do live in harmony together.

I would expect a vet checkup and neutering to cost around $200 or so - although I did have my first cat done at a low-cost clinic for $40 - so you might want to call your local humane society and see if they have anything like that available.

Congratulations on your new kitty.
posted by Ostara at 1:03 PM on February 23, 2007


ASPCA/Humane Society is a good bet for affordable neutering. I would call them first.

If scratching is a problem, consider Soft Paws. You can find them at most pet supply stores and veteranary clinics. Keeping your cat's claws trimmed and capped is higher maintenance for you, but cheaper than surgery and better for kitty's health.
posted by Koko at 1:07 PM on February 23, 2007


Just to reiterate everyone else, it's going to be about a hundred and up for the neutering, and don't declaw your cat.

I'm cat owner on my 5th or 6th lifetime cat and while my parents used to declaw my childhood cats, I've never done it as an adult. You simply clip their nails with a nail clipper every couple weeks to keep them from being sharp, and if they still like to scratch, get a small scratching pad of cardboard from a pet store for $20.

It's not just a gruesome procedure (imagine ripping out your fingertips to the first knuckle), it's unnecessary.
posted by mathowie at 1:07 PM on February 23, 2007


As an alternative to declawing, you may consider SoftClaws. Declawed kitties have problems using litterboxes and that's messy.
posted by mkb at 1:09 PM on February 23, 2007


I'd go so far as to say that if you find a vet willing to declaw your cat, do not let that vet anywhere near the creature. There is absolutely no medical reason to declaw cats, and any vet that performs the procedure is only doing it for the money. And any vet that tells you there's a medical reason for declawing is just a quack.

Either way, take your cat somewhere else.
posted by jesourie at 1:17 PM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Often your local SPCA or cat rescue will offer clinics for spay/nueter (often no cost). Best place to find out is to call the SPCA or ask at the local pet stores, they'll often have the inside word on when a clinic will be held.

For a vet, there are a couple things you can do, again call the local animal shelter, SPCA or local neighborhood (non chain) pet store, they will often have a line on the best local vets.

Ask around your area, people tend to be pretty vocal about their pet care and are generally very willing to reference. The best vets will get around by word of mouth fairly well.
posted by iamabot at 1:19 PM on February 23, 2007


What a cutie! I had my kitty spayed at the ASPCA a few years ago and I think it cost around $125. And, as everyone has mentioned, neutering costs less.

And please don't declaw him! In addition to the reasons already mentioned, if kitty ever escapes (god forbid), he'll be defenseless. I trim my kitty's claws every couple of weeks and we have no problems.
posted by Mavri at 1:25 PM on February 23, 2007


Nthing the "don't declaw your cat" bandwagon. Ignoring the other reasons that have been mentioned, if your kitty ever gets out of the house (accidently or otherwise), he won't have any ability whatsoever to protect himself against other cats or whatever he encounters out in the world.

on preview, Marvi beat me too it, but it's worth repeating, so i'll leave it here!
posted by cgg at 1:31 PM on February 23, 2007


A humane society in your area could probably offer low cost, around 100 dollars, spay/neuter. In fact some in the Atlanta area sometime have a $25 dollar spay drive if you are in a lower income bracket.

Also, declawing is not good for cats. I have never seen the need for it. If you start clipping their nails regularly they will get used to it.
posted by stormygrey at 1:33 PM on February 23, 2007


I'd go so far as to say that if you find a vet willing to declaw your cat, do not let that vet anywhere near the creature. There is absolutely no medical reason to declaw cats, and any vet that performs the procedure is only doing it for the money. And any vet that tells you there's a medical reason for declawing is just a quack.

There is no medical reason to have a boob job, or a nose job, but I would not call all plastic surgeons quacks.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:39 PM on February 23, 2007


Please do not declaw your kitten. With a little extra care and training and a good scratching post you will avoid scratched up couches etc....

It is so unnatural and painful for them.

Enjoy them when they are young and keep a sense of humour....
posted by jek at 1:40 PM on February 23, 2007


Traditionally, boob jobs are not performed on women who do not and can not consent to the procedure.

For what it's worth, the American Veterinary Medical Association opposes declawing unless you are experiencing problems with the cat using its claws destructively, and even then only after other solutions to the problem have failed.
posted by punishinglemur at 1:55 PM on February 23, 2007


Call around to pet shops in the area; not the mall-type ones that sell purebred puppies, but the all-animals feed and supply shops. I don't know about NYC but I can think of a few in my small town and they occasionally have low-cost spay/neuter deals. They'll partner with a local vet and everyone's happy; the pet shop gets customers coming in, the vet gets new patients, the owners get a good deal and lots of unborn little kitties and puppies don't have to suffer through life without a safe home.
Since you aren't fully decided on declawing, I don't think it's out-of-line for people to give some polite advice. If you aren't decided by now you probably have your heart set on it, but I'll offer one more anecdotal tidbit in the nay-category; I know a declawed cat who "slaps" with her paws when you try to go near her. Yes, this would probably be more painful if she had her claws, but she did not do it before; I think she's trying to compensate for her inability to protect herself with her claws with her mean slappy behavior.
I know you already have your cat, but if you every decide on getting another one, there are usually plenty of cats in shelters who were declawed by a previous owner, so you might want to seek them out rather than picking out a clawed kitty and declawing it yourself.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:57 PM on February 23, 2007


Save the money and don't declaw the little guy. Since you asked about the money, it'll be a couple hundred dollars to get it done, and you can save the money by just trimming every three weeks or so and buying a scratch mat with some catnip.

If you just want to be cruel to the cat, I recommend a box, a hammer, and a radioactive isotope.
posted by Loto at 2:00 PM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


There should be vetrinary clinics that offer low-cost spay/neutering - the local Human Society or ASPCAshould be able to help you find those.

if your kitty ever gets out of the house (accidently or otherwise), he won't have any ability whatsoever to protect himself against other cats or whatever he encounters out in the world.

That's not necessarily true. Say what you will about declawing, but my childhood cat, who was front-paw-declawed at the shelter before we rescued him, was the terror of the neighborhood, foe to all dogs great and small.

Also, this is a completely unnecessary derail. Here is just one website from the other side of the issue, since we're sharing our favorite biased-screeds-of-the-week.
posted by muddgirl at 2:07 PM on February 23, 2007


That really is the best cat name ever.
Your local humane society should be able to refer your to a good vet, or a clinic they work with that does neutering cheaply. When you do decide on a vet to take him to, make sure it's close by, because you don't want to have to drive a sick kitty very far. ( Hopefully you will never have to have a sick kitty).
I also trim my cat's nails, and it's actually pretty quick and easy. You can buy the special clippers for a few bucks at a pet shop, but you can also just use your own nail clippers. The vet should also be able to show you how to do this properly, it's not hard.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 2:09 PM on February 23, 2007


I live in Astoria, Queens, but it is quick hop to midtown/upper/lower westside Manhattan.
posted by amileighs at 2:24 PM on February 23, 2007


Cat = $300.00 or so, Leather Sofa = $3000.00 and more

Clawed cat = bad results

Declawed Cat = no issues.

Upshot, never had to speak even harshly to the cat reguarding damages, inside cats do not need claws in the front and my life is so much better due to the declawing.

Inside cats live up to 20 years in total luxury and one simple VET approved procedure means all those years of a great life versus what 2 years on the streets?

Now rip me to shreds.
posted by Freedomboy at 2:33 PM on February 23, 2007


If you are in the East Village or nearby, there's Dr. Moscovich, (212) 979-9870 at 204 E 10th St. I looked him up on Google and I'm pretty sure this is the vet where we had our cat spayed a few years ago. I remember him being very helpful (and interested in giving us tips about cat care) and not at all expensive. I doubt he would do the declawing, though.

There's also a pet supplies store around 10th and 2nd Ave. (forgot the name, sorry) with a bunch of people who seem to be very knowledgeable about and interested in pet care; I'm sure they would have recommendations.
posted by lackutrol at 2:33 PM on February 23, 2007


That'll teach me to not preview. Anyway, there are a bunch of very good vets in the West Village but they seem to be pretty expensive.
posted by lackutrol at 2:35 PM on February 23, 2007


I didn't see where the poster asked everyone his/her opinion on declawing.
posted by found missing at 2:48 PM on February 23, 2007


Don't declaw!
When you bring him in for his neutering, ask them to quickly show you how to cut the nails since you're a first time cat-owner. Once you see how to do it properly, it's easy.
Also, it's a good time to consider bringing a second kitten into the home. Even though you might live in a small NYC apt. (as do I), it's really good for them to have some company when you're out working late and living it up in the city. If you get them together when they're young, they'll grow up as siblings and can usually share a litter box. I've met a few too many shell shocked apartment cats who turn out weird from living alone all day. The kitties I know who have grown up in pairs seem to socialize better over the long-term....
If you have any questions about cat iwnership in the city, feel free to email me.
posted by BillBishop at 2:50 PM on February 23, 2007


My own personal opinion is that I wouldn't trust a random geocities page to tell me whether or not declawing is inhumane. I, personally, trust my common sense, which says that elective surgery for my convenience, which by definition will put my cat in pain, is not humane. Also, consider that your cat will have to scratch in its litterbox with its feet after it's declawed -- which is at best a really painful thing to even think about, but at worst, is even more horrible to contemplate moving around poo and pee with your feet when you've had (for a tame example) ten ingrown toenails removed. I think that's not what the doctor would order.

Some people are going to tell you that declawing is okay, and it's a personal choice that people have to make -- but you're making it for a cat who doesn't have a hand in the decision. I choose to view caring for my cats as a stewardship, and I can't reconcile declawing with my view that I should not subject them to inordinate amounts of pain that they can't understand.

I know the question is not over all about declawing, but if the poster is thinking about having the procedure, I don't see any harm in people stating their opinions/experiences with having it done.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:51 PM on February 23, 2007


@found missing: "I didn't see where the poster asked everyone his/her opinion on declawing."

From the question: "...possibly declawed. I'm ... fairly clueless. [...] I don't want to ... risk his health..."

He may not have explicitly asked, but that does not make the comments inappropriate.
posted by CrayDrygu at 3:05 PM on February 23, 2007


In my country declawing is illegal, unless the animal has severe behavioural problems and euthanasia is the only alternative.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:05 PM on February 23, 2007


Ditto on all the comments about not declawing.

Cats need to scratch and enjoy scratching, so I'm against the claw covers too. Get your kitten some nice sisal-covered scratching posts -- they have a much nicer "claw feel". No cat will choose crappy human furniture (that claws don't really sink into) to the wonderful texture and grip of sisal. Our indoor cats have never tried to claw any furniture. (We have a long and thin San Francisco house with sisal posts at each end.)

As long as the cats are active you won't need to trim their claws either; scratching takes care of it.

If you want to be really nice to your cats, get them a tall clawing and climbing tree.

(I have to admit that the coloured claw covers like Soft Paws do look cool -- I wouldn't inflict them on any cat but maybe I'll get some for my own nails.)
posted by phliar at 3:10 PM on February 23, 2007


Since this has turned into a complete derail about whether or not one should declaw (rather than how much it would cost, which is what I also want to know) I just want to nth not declawing your cat--right away. Definitely keep him clawed for a few months before you make your decision. Understand how he behaves and try to rein in bad behavior as soon as possible before committing to an expensive and painful procedure.

Personally, we are going to declaw ours simply due to behavioral problems that we haven't been able to solve in his year with us despite vet intervention, Soft-claws (which like to fall off) and nail-clipping (good luck clipping my cat's claws). I am not a proponent of declawing, but I think both his and my own life will be better once we are freed of him scratching everyone around him and my constantly spraying him and yelling at him. If you saw my family's hands, you'd think we were playing bloody knuckles with Edward Scissorhands.
posted by sian at 3:36 PM on February 23, 2007


Can I recommend looking for a vet you like? I -- and I will avoid the bandwagon beyond this -- wanted one who did not normally de-claw, and who would never try to sell me food or anything else beyond basic veterinary services.

Some other things:

A post on Craigslist asking for vet suggestions got me a decent pile of recommendations and warnings about the local animal hospitals.

A trimmer designed for puppies worked well for the claws in this house; there's a decent how-to here.

House Cat is a decent instructional manual, and The Tribe of Tiger is a great read.

Sweet-looking kitten; great name. Enjoy him!
posted by kmennie at 3:39 PM on February 23, 2007


@found missing: Don't be dense. Here, let's do a little "reading comprehension 101"...
  • "possibly declawed" -- specifically mentions declawing as an option, as well as indicating that the decision to do so has not been made
  • "I'm fairly clueless" -- indicates that the poster may not know of any of the reasons not to declaw, or what the operation fully entails
  • "I don't want to ... risk his health" -- declawing is an operation that can have a significant impact on a cat's well-being, in more than one way
If you don't see logic in that, I feel pretty sad for you, because it all fits together rather well. So, instead of just being snarky, try to read and understand what I -- and nearly everyone else in this thread -- already understand.
posted by CrayDrygu at 4:26 PM on February 23, 2007


Congrats on joining the world of pet ownership!!

I love my cat. I've loved all my cats I've ever had. We elected to have our cat undergo elective surgery for the comfort of our household. The cat was never happy about it. Some cats react badly to the procedure and are never the same. Mine happened to be fine. The procedure was neutering.

I've just never understood the hypocrisy people have when it comes to the declawing thing. If you only have one indoor cat there is no reason to "fix" it either, aside from the fact that a cat in heat is one of the most annoying things on this earth and a cat that sprays isn't fun to have around.

I'm not trying to be supremely snarky [just mildly snarky], and I totally understand the point-of-view shared by many of the people posting here. I wouldn't be happy if someone chopped off my fingers. I've just always thought that the same argument could be made against other things we do to our pets, and as long as I'm making one choice based on wanting to have an amount of control over my home I'm going to make another.

Amileighs, make your own decision based on your lifestyle is and what your experience and heart tell you. Some cats won't scratch you or your furniture. Some cats will. I think we've mauled our cat more from our trimming of his back claws than he was from being declawed. I have never regretted having him de-clawed. And in your real life, you'll meet very few people who will care or judge you based on your decision. Your friends won't shun you, no one is going to whisper behind your back at cocktail parties.

The ASPCA or humane society should be able to refer you to a vet. You could also call your local shelter and find out who they use. All vets will do a combo procedure which means your pet only has to "go under" once and deal with the vet once. If you choose only to spay, but can't afford it, there are probably a bunch of programs to provide low-cost spaying [ah yes, I see many listed above]. Because, as I said above, that elective surgery is perceived as having a great social benefit and organizations want you to have it done. The first six months of having the cat were expensive, I think we were out $400 or so when all the shots and things were said and done.
posted by Mozzie at 6:01 PM on February 23, 2007


"as long as I'm making one choice based on wanting to have an amount of control over my home I'm going to make another."

I don't think that is a good analogy. The arguments for neutering are a) for the benefit of the cat (fewer fights for males, no litters with attendant risks for females) and b) for the community (reduction in feral cat population). In either case these benefits are presumed to outweight the inconvenience to the cat. In declawing there is nothing in it for the cat, or society, and the benefits accrue entirely to the owner. That is why humane societies around the world are for neutering and against declawing.

If you prioritise your furniture over your cat, then go for it.

Returning to the original poster, why not leave declawing for later? I understand that it can be done "safely" up to two years of age. Even if you are not swayed by the arguments against it presented here, that gives you quite a long period in which to decide whether it's necessary, save the money and explore alternatives with little Erwin.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:19 PM on February 23, 2007


For anyone reading who might want to get a cat in the future, but would want that cat declawed: get an already declawed cat from the pound. In doing that, you both provide a home to a homeless pet and you avoid declawing.
posted by kellygreen at 7:22 PM on February 23, 2007


Declawing is not only a painful operation, but can cause lifelong pain and arthritis for the cat. Even worse, declawing can cause permanent behavioral problems, such as litter box avoidance and inappropropriate elimination, and can turn a healthy, well-adjusted cat into a fearful, tense, anxiety-ridden cat.

A cat that has appropriate surfaces for clawing (both vertical and horizontal) will not claw anything that you value, and if you start clipping the cat's nails while he's still a kitten he'll get used to it quickly. My little cat goes into a trance when I clip him, and by the time I'm done he's asleep and purring. My big cat is a little more difficult, but I just use the blanket burrito method.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 11:22 PM on February 23, 2007


I used to bring my dog to NY's ASPCA, around York Ave. and 92nd St., because it was much cheaper than most private vets. The hospital part is called the Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. The vets there are wonderful and great to the animals. In fact, I preferred them to the fancy,profit-driven Chicago vet my dog currently goes to. Being the ASPCA, I'm sure they will also be able to give you a balanced view on declawing and its benefits/drawbacks for you and cat.

Bergh animal hospital (sorry, linking button has disappeared from my view of AskMe):

http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pro_nyc_berghhospital
posted by walla at 6:29 AM on February 24, 2007


I just adopted an abandoned miniature pinscher who had previously been the victim of docked tail, ears. Nothing is more reprehensible and disgusting than a human torturing an animal for personal preferences on the appearance, etc. of the animal. And there's nothing more defensible about declawing - claws are part of a cat, the same way a tail is part of a miniature pinscher and kitties and puppies have noses. If you don't like claws or other body parts your cat has, don't get one. (Of course, this doesn't apply to spay/neuter because it's essential in minimizing future homelessness, euthanization of animals). When you take on the responsibility of caring for an animal, it's not like buying new shoes - they are living beings with feelings and you as their caretaker need to take care of them, not torture them with surgery that has no legitimate medical purpose.

So, I'll refer you to Muffin's Pet Connection at 718-833-7988 or www.muffins.org, where they provide a spay/neuter certificate allowing you to obtain a spay/neuter from any of the vets in their program for $38 male cat / $51 female cat. This cost includes the examination, anesthesia, surgery, stitch removal if needed, but not shots and antibiotics. My local pet supply store referred me to them, and both of my local vets as well as hundreds of others participate in this program.

I really considered saying I would not pass on the name and contact information of this organization if you intended on sadistically maiming your cat, but you're going to make whatever decision you in your heart feel is appropriate and not giving you good, useful information about healthy and appropriate procedures wouldn't make a difference.
posted by bunnycup at 7:27 AM on February 24, 2007


Uhmmm, don't know whether this is appropriate as a follow up, but sorry for the holier-than-thou tone (Im on a crusade right now because it makes me so sad to see my new pup's mangled ears, tail). I understand better now that you are not a horrible person who has decided on this surgery but just seem not to have known better and looking for info on a few areas of new pet ownership. Call Muffins though, I haven't ever heard of anything more cost-effective where you can possibly stay with your own vet. Good luck with the new kitten.
posted by bunnycup at 7:36 AM on February 24, 2007


My last cat grew up in a book store and had never seen living room furniture. She went right for the top of the sofa and proceeded to sharpen her claws. So, I threw sheets over everything and then went out and bought a cardboard scratching board. I put some sprinkled catnip upon it, put her upon it and she never went for the furniture again.

I am against de-clawing cats as well. First do no harm is always a good rule to follow.
posted by y2karl at 10:05 AM on February 24, 2007


Holy crap your kitten is CUTE! I declawed my cat and he was fine, he had perfectly good feet In hindsigh, if I knew then what I know now - I wouldn't have done it.

February is national spay and neuter month, so if you make an appoint quickish, you should probably get a pretty good deal.

I paid 40 for my girl cat during spay/neuter month and about 250 for my male cate neuter/declaw - this was in a really small town if that matters.
posted by heartquake at 10:06 AM on February 24, 2007


Also, soft paws, they're covers for cat nails ;)
posted by heartquake at 10:11 AM on February 24, 2007


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