New York might become the first state to pass legislative measures making it illegal to declaw a cat. Recently, the bill was advanced by the Agriculture & Markets Committee and continues to make its way through the NY State Assembly. While cities in California and other countries such as Switzerland, Israel and the U.K. already ban declawing, if passed, this bill would make New York the first state to prohibit the inhumane practice and impose a penalty up to $1,000 for those who violate the law.
While there are already many veterinarians who already refuse to perform an onychectomy (declawing), the inhumane option is still available under the law until the bill is passed. In addition, the bill does continue to allow for declawing if it serves a therapeutic purpose related to the medical needs of a cat. The intention of the bill is to ban declawing for the convenience of a cat’s handlers; for handlers who wish merely to prevent the scratching of furniture; or for other non-medical and aesthetic purposes.
While there are a few methods of declawing, an onychectomy is basically a highly painful procedure that involves amputation. Not only is the cat’s claw removed, but the cat’s foot structure is altered--part of the bone from which the claw grows is removed during the procedure. Even after the procedure, cats can continue to feel sharp pain from the amputation and can develop severe infections. Declawed cats can also develop gait problems and an increase in biting behaviors.
Clawing in cats is a normal and healthy behavior. It is recommended that cats have scratch posts available to them so that they can exercise their natural scratching and clawing instincts.
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