Years ago, declawing a cat may have been considered a routine veterinary procedure but advocacy groups, such as Alley Cat Rescue, have been fighting against this perception and for stronger laws against the practice. Slowly, the tides have been changing as more pet owners learn about the negative welfare implications. Legislative changes against this harmful practice have been even slower but California may become the first state to ban the practice.
SB 1441, introduced by Senator Henry Stern and co-authored by Senator Scott Wilk, would prohibit non-therapeutic declawing in cats. This bill would not prohibit the rare times declawing is recommended for medical reasons. First-time offenders would be punished with a fine of up to $250 and second and subsequent violations would be a misdemeanor.
While 20 countries and the UK currently ban declawing, it is not banned federally or at the state level in the United States. Cities such as Hollywood, California, Santa Monica, California and Norfolk, Virginia have bans on declawing in place. California and Rhode Island have passed laws that ban landlords from requiring tenants to have their animals declawed or devocalized. ACR hopes SB 1441 will be the first state law against declawing.
The declawing procedure is simply amputation: amputation that can lead to lifelong injuries and behavioral issues. The declawing procedure involves removing the first joint of the cat’s toe, equivalent to amputating the first knuckle off a person’s fingers. Cats can suffer from symptoms such as pain in their feet, arthritis and difficulty moving around. Owners may declaw their cats to prevent the cat from scratching but declawing can actually cause more “problem” behaviors. Declawed cats are more likely to go outside of the litter box because the litter can be too painful for their paws and are more likely to bite because they cannot use their claws for protection. Further, scratching is a natural cat behavior that can help them exercise and tone their muscles (click here for more reasons why you should not declaw your cat).
Proponents of declawing will claim that the practice keeps cats in homes. US cities that have banned declawing have actually seen a decline in the number of relinquished cats since the ban was enacted. Declawing can bring about problems such as litter-box issues and pain-induced aggression which may make an owner even more likely to relinquish their cat.
We thank Senator Henry Stern for being an advocate for animals and introducing this bill. Let’s make California the first state to ban this cruel and outdated practice! If you live in California, please reach out to your representatives and ask them to support a ban on declawing cats. Even if you do not live in California, you can help get this bill passed by signing this petition: https://www.change.org/p/henry-stern-we-support-anti-declaw-legislation-in-california
If you live in New York, New Jersey and Hawaii your state is also considering a bill to ban declawing so get on the phone and tell your representatives you support a statewide ban on declawing.
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.