New York may soon become the first state to ban the practice of declawing cats. The law would make declawing a cat a crime punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.
Proponents of the bill say that declawing cats is inhumane, as it involves surgery that’s technically an amputation and can cause lasting damage to the cat.
The Humane Society of the United States opposes declawing except for in rare, medically-necessary circumstances. The organization likens declawing to the effect of cutting off each finger at the last knuckle on a human.
Some of the possible negative consequences of the procedure include pain, infection, tissue death, nerve damage and bone damage.
Cats may also begin to bite without their claws for defense, and the pain they feel may cause them to stop using a litter box.
“It is an unnecessary surgery that provides no medical benefit to the cat,” reads an explanation from the organization. “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.”
Pet owners sometimes declaw their cats to discourage unwanted scratching and avoid problems, like destroyed furniture. But the Humane Society suggests that when cats typically start scratching (at around eight weeks old) it’s best to train kittens to use a scratching post and allow nail trims
“Pet caregivers should not consider declawing a routine prevention for unwanted scratching,” the organization writes. “Declawing can actually lead to an entirely different set of behavior problems that may be worse than shredding the couch.”
Those who oppose the bill believe that declawing should continue to be an option for cat owners.
“The Veterinarian Association is split on this issue,” Democratic State Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo told WBNG. “Some are very much in favor of this ban and others really want to have this as an option. We would think only in very limited circumstances should this be used because it’s so invasive.”
The bill is currently moving through the New York State Assembly committees. The full Assembly and Senate would still need to move the measure forward before it is sent to the governor for his approval.
In the meantime, the Humane Society suggests the following steps to prevent your cat from causing any damage to your home or committing any unwanted scratching. A good pet vacuum can also help you keep your home clean and tidy, because we all know how cat (and dog) hair seems to get just about everywhere.
1. Keep your cat’s claws trimmed.
2. Provide scratching boards and posts around the house for your cat to use in various rooms. You can use toys and catnip to entice your cat to use these items rather than scratching at the furniture.
3. Buy and attach a special tape to attach to furniture that will deter your cat from scratching. You can find some versions, like Sticky Paws, on Amazon for $8.99.
4. Ask your vet about the possibility of getting soft plastic caps for your cat’s nails. However, if you’re interested in this method, be aware that these need to be replaced every six weeks.
New York isn’t the first state to make an effort to legally ban the practice of declawing. Declawing cats has already been outlawed in 10 cities in California, as well as in Denver, Colorado, and throughout Europe.
What do you think? Should the practice of declawing cats be outlawed in every state?
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