News & Politics

New York Considers a Ban on Declawing Cats

New York lawmakers and advocates met at the state capitol to push for a bill that would make it illegal to declaw your cat.

Declawing your cat is a barbaric, violent procedure that involves amputating part of each little cat finger. It’s monstrous and cruel.

But should it be illegal?

Advocates ranging from state Humane Society members to individual veterinarians met in the state Capitol to push for a bill sponsored by Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, which would ban the practice of declawing cats except when medically necessary.

New York would be the first state to ban the practice.

Rosenthal said at a news conference that the procedure is done “as a convenience to the owner.” She described the procedure as amputating tendons and ligaments and portion of the kitty’s bones.

“For humans not to respect the integrity of the animal and the animal’s body is criminal,” she said. “However, it’s still allowed, it’s an option, and that’s why we aim to make it illegal.”

Yes, it is still allowed, although many veterinarians will not perform the procedure any longer.  However, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society opposes the bill. The veterinary group wrote a memo explaining that declawing is only recommended when other methods to stop clawing and scratching have failed. They also said many cats are saved from euthanasia with an option to declaw.

“(Declawing) is one method to allow a beloved feline companion to continue to live in a household rather than relinquishing the family pet to a shelter,” the Veterinary Medical Society’s lobbyist wrote. “Declawing should remain a viable alternative to euthanasia if all other options have failed.”

If you are thinking about getting a cat as a pet, let me tell you straight up: your cat is going to scratch your stuff if you do not train it or provide it with somewhere to scratch. They will scratch even if you provide them with viable scratching options; it is in their nature to scratch. Perhaps you do not like the possibility of your belongings being shredded up — I understand that. Just don’t get a cat. It should be illegal to be a person who doesn’t understand the true responsibilities of pet ownership — that’s a bill I can get behind.

There are some vets that are opposed to the procedure and want to see it outlawed. One-hundred thirty veterinarians back the legislation.

Eileen Jefferson, a veterinarian and member of Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, said: “This always includes the pain of having 10 to 18 separate amputations performed in one day and, in addition to that, it can include other effects such as limping, hemorrhage, chronic pain and infection.”

“The act of declawing has no place in a humane society, and shelters should know, and vets do know,” said Brian Shapiro, state director of the Humane Society of the United States.

Rosenthal has  been trying to pass the bill for two years to no avail. Certain cities in California have outlawed the procedure as well as New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

What do you think? Should it be illegal to declaw your cat?