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New York Could Become First State To Ban Declawing Cats Statewide

New York may become the first state to ban declawing cats.
New York may become the first state to ban declawing cats. Photo Credit: Contributed

Me-ouch!

New York is getting closer to becoming the first state to ban the declawing of cats, passing legislation in the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday, June 4 that has been gaining steam for weeks.

The Senate and Assembly voted to approve the legislation on Tuesday, June 3, following the similar passage of declawing laws in Denver and various towns in California.

Tuesday’s vote came after debates between lawmakers and animal welfare advocates who spoke about concerns on both sides of the issue.

"Declawing a cat is not like getting a mani/pedi, it's a brutal surgical procedure that involves removing the first bone of the cat's toe and part of the tendons and muscles,” Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal said. “Now that New York is poised to become the first state in the nation to ban cat declawing, the days when this procedure is cavalierly offered for the convenience of the owners to protect couches and curtain are numbered,”

Brian Shapiro, New York State Director for The Humane Society of the United States said that the hopes New York’s decision will allow other states to follow through with similar legislation of their own.

“The Legislature’s vote to end the cruel practice of declawing cats represents a watershed moment that will continue to resonate in other states,” he noted.

Those in favor of the legislation spoke from the cat’s perspective, arguing declawing cats is inhumane because it involves the amputation of the animal’s toes back to the first knuckle. However, some veterinary associations in New York have opposed the bill, arguing that declawing should be available as a last resort for those cats that won’t stop scratching furniture or humans.

The New York State Veterinary Medical Society has been outspoken in its opposition of the bill, claiming the procedure is useful as a last resort for families of felines that won’t stop scratching furniture or humans, or when a cat’s owner’s immune system is compromised, putting them at risk of adverse reactions from a scratch. Other concerns included concerns of cat owners bringing their pets out of state to have the procedure performed.

Under the bill, violators will face fines up to $1,000, though veterinarians will still be permitted to declaw cats for certain medical reasons. With the legislation passed by the Senate and Assembly, it will head to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk to be signed into law.

Advocates have argued that declawing cats is inhumane because it involves the amputation of the animal’s toes back to the first knuckle. However, some veterinary associations in New York have opposed the bill, arguing that declawing should be available as a last resort for those cats that won’t stop scratching furniture or humans.

According to the Human Society of the United States, “declawing can make a cat less likely to use the litter box or more likely to bite. Declawing also can cause lasting physical problems for your cat.” The organization notes that it “opposes declawing except for the rare cases when it is necessary for medical purposes, such as the removal of cancerous nail bed tumors.”

“People who are worried about being scratched, especially those with immunodeficiencies or bleeding disorders, may be told incorrectly that their health will be protected by declawing their cats. However, infectious disease specialists don't recommend declawing. The risk from scratches for these people is less than those from bites, cat litter, or fleas carried by their cats.”

The Humane Society noted that “It is an unnecessary surgery that provides no medical benefit to the cat. Educated pet parents can easily train their cats to use their claws in a manner that allows everyone in the household to live together happily.”

“Medical drawbacks to declawing include pain in the paw, infection, tissue necrosis (tissue death), lameness, and back pain. Removing claws changes the way a cat's foot meets the ground and can cause pain similar to wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes. There can also be a regrowth of improperly removed claws, nerve damage, and bone spurs.”

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