Cat Declawing Ban Passed By New York State

Amy Pilkington 6 Jun 2019

When I was a kid, all of our cats were declawed. It was just normal for our local shelter to perform the procedure on any cats in their care. Declawing was considered perfectly fine for cats intended to live indoors and probably made people more likely to adopt them.

But times are changing and more and more people are questioning many long-standing practices around our pets.

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Pets, particularly dogs and cats, have been transitioning towards being part of the family rather than something you own. As a culture we've begun to question certain "traditional" practices, such as docking tails, cropping ears, and yes, declawing.

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Declawing is one of the most controversial decisions in the cat world.

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Opponents call it inhumane, since not only is it limiting the cat's self-defense capabilities, but the removal of part of their foot bones can result in chronic pain.

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However scientists and veterinarians haven't been able to prove many anti-declawing claims.

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Most vets fall somewhere in the middle. They will caution owners against unneeded surgeries and the risks associated, but will still perform the surgery when it is deemed necessary.

It could be due to an injury or infection, or if the cat's claws could mean the difference between a loving home or a shelter — such as an elderly owner with delicate skin.

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More and more places are looking at banning the procedure entirely.

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New York is the first US state to have a bill pass through both houses and the law is on its way to the governor's desk.

It's already illegal in much of Europe and many Canadian provinces. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver have banned it at the municipal level.

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The New York State Veterinary Medical Society has been opposing the bill.

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Their argument is that the procedure shouldn't be banned, but allowed as a last resort decided upon by vets and owners.

However Manhattan Democrat and the bill's sponsor Linda Rosenthal argues, "It’s unnecessary, it’s painful, and it causes the cat problems."

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But not all veterinarians agree.

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Michelle Brownstein has refused to perform the procedure for 15 years, after noticing ongoing pain and behavioral issues in declawed cats at her clinic. She said:

"The end result is a barbaric procedure that results in the mutilation of the animal. Frankly, if you’re worried about your furniture, then you shouldn’t be getting a cat.

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It's still unclear whether or not Governor Andrew Cuomo will sign it.

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A representative told the Associated Press that the governor will review the bill before signing it into law. So there's still time for those against a total ban to have their voices heard.

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If it does go into effect, then the procedure could only be performed as an absolute last medical resort.

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Any veterinarian who ignores it could be fined $1000.

What do you think? Is a ban a step too far or is declawing so horrible that it should never be done?

h/t: Associate Press

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