New York Could Become the First State to Ban Declawing Cats
New York could be the first state in the nation to ban declawing†all types of felines if a groundbreaking bill introduced by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal passes.
The bill, A 1297, would ban declawing of cats and other animals and would hold both veterinarians and owners accountable under current penal law, with exceptions for cases where the procedure would be medically necessary to treat an underlying condition.
“It’s like taking off your first knuckle,” Rosenthal told the New York Daily News. “(Cats) are born with claws and they are meant to have claws . It’s cruel to remove them for the sake of human convenience and saving your furniture.”
While declawing remains a controversial topic among vets, animal advocates and cat owners, the fact remains that it isnít a simple procedure that merely removes a cats’ nails. Rather, the procedure, which is formally known as an onychectomy, involves surgically removing the last joint in a cat’s toe to which the nail is attached. For cats, it’s a ten-toe amputation, and while the procedures continues to be likened to cutting off the last joint of our fingers, we don’t walk on our hands.
Over the summer, the American Veterinary Medical Association took a small step for cats by amending its policy regarding declawing to clarify that it is a major surgery, also describing it as an amputation, yet it still didn’t advise against having it done, saying only that it should be used as a last resort to stop destructive behavior.
The majority of cats are declawed over concerns about scratching, which is a catís way of marking territory, maintaining their nails and stretching. Whether we like it or not, scratching is a natural part of who cats are and if someone can’t live with that then they shouldn’t have a cat.
Unfortunately, some people value their decor more than the physical and emotional well-being of their cats and continue to decide to modify their behavior via surgical mutilation, instead of trying a number of safe and effective alternatives, from scratching posts and deterrents like Sticky Paws to nail trimming or using plastic nail caps like Soft Paws, among other options.
Soft Paws. Credit: Robert Parviainen/Flickr
Some supporters of this procedure argue that this surgery helps keep cats from being dumped in shelters, but declawed cats can and do wind up there anyway and their physical and behavioral problems may be worse, making them even more difficult to place. Without their claws, they may turn to biting as a defense and start avoiding the litter box because pawing is painful, or they may suffer from side effects of the procedure, like chronic pain.
While some vets are opposing the bill, it has so far received support from the New York Humane Society and the Paw Project, an organization dedicated to educating the public about declawing and ending the practice. While a number of countries and eight cities in the U.S. have banned declawing over ethical concerns, this would be the first statewide ban.
“Nobody’s stepped up to do it, that’s why I’m doing it. People talk about it a lot, but many people still do it, and they have veterinarians who agree to do it, so that has to change. Just like there are some surgeons who will keep performing plastic surgery on their clients as long as they keep paying. It’s the same sort of thing, but I think it’s totally unethical to perform these kinds of amputations on cats,” Rosenthal told the Gothamist.
Please†sign and share the petition asking New York lawmakers to be leaders on this issue by making their the first state to ban declawing. The Paw Project is also urging people to send letters via snail mail and has more info and a sample here.
We can also help companion animals by asking our vets if they perform controversial and inhumane procedures, such as declawing and devocalization, and finding a new vet if they do. If you’re looking for a new one, Declaw.com has a state-by-state list of vets who have pledged not to declaw.
Photo credit: Thinkstock