New York Just Became The First State To Ban Cat Declawing

It’s a major victory for pet enthusiasts in New York State — no longer will their furry friends be subjected to the inhumane act of cat declawing. Not legally, anyway. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill that banned the procedure. It takes effect immediately. Those who opposed the bill likely thought it overreaching, ridiculous, or a danger to the well-being of their living room furniture set.

But what they might not know is that cat declawing can only be done by partially amputating toe bones in a cat’s feet. There are lifelong consequences to this: chronic pain results because declawed cats will end up straining joints or even their spine. Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris likened cat declawing to “removing a human finger at the knuckle.”

Not all cat declawing is banned. When the cat’s well-being is at stake and the health of the animal demands the procedure be done, it’s allowed.

The bill states: “Cats’ claws play an important role in various aspects of their lives. When a person has its animal declawed, usually in an attempt to protect furniture, they do fundamental damage to that animal both physically and in behavioral ways.”

Not all veterinarians agree with the bill or its findings. While the American Association of Feline Practitioners says scratching is a “normal feline behavior” and declawing should not be legal, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society (NYSVMS) said it “believes a veterinarian…should be permitted to make medical decisions after direct consultation with a client and a thorough examination of the patient and its home circumstances.”

There are alternatives available for pet owners who are tired of their cats’ scratching habits. They can leave scratching posts throughout the habitat. They can trim nails frequently to reduce the potential damage. They can put nail caps on the cat’s claws. Many of these actions may make it more difficult for a cat to climb — one of their favorite activities — but they’re still better than full declawing. 

Other states may soon follow suit now that the debate is live. Massachusetts lawmakers recently proposed a similar bill. The procedure is also banned in the UK, Switzerland, and Israel.

Claws are used to help the cat survive. While we don’t condone allowing cats to roam outdoors (because they’re little psychopathic serial killers), they are used for hunting. If your cat escapes outside, it needs the defense mechanism to help it survive. Claws are also used for climbing and defending, both of which are just as important.