Declawing pet cats was once a common practice, even the norm. Fortunately, the opposite is now true and many veterinary associations and clinics denounce the surgery (though many stipulate unless it is necessary for medical reasons). Recently there have been bills proposed to city lawmakers and even at the state level across the U.S. to legally ban declawing. As the debate about declawing gains momentum, ACR has curated key facts about this procedure that reveal just why it should be banned, everywhere.
Is Declawing Cats Illegal? How Can I Keep My Cat’s Claws Healthy?
The surgical name for declawing-- onychectomy, or “nail removal” — doesn’t describe what really happens during declawing. In a declawing procedure, a cat’s foot bones are amputated at the first joint of the toe.-
What happens during a declawing procedure?
Veterinarians may use a scalpel, electrosurgery, laser surgery, surgical scissors, or a sterile pair of sharp nail trimmers to break off the bone at the last joint. If this is not done properly, declawing may lead to nerve damage or bone spurs, which are incredibly painful bone outgrowths. After the bones are severed, the cat’s toes are closed with surgical glue, the paws are bandaged, and the cat stays in the hospital for two days.
After the bandages are removed, the cat returns home. But they do not return to their daily routine. Declawed cats must use paper litter for two weeks after the surgery to keep their usual litter from getting stuck on the toes. Not all cats will use paper litter. Some cats may refuse to use their litter boxes at all after declawing because it is too painful to dig after this procedure.
Declawing causes cats animals lifelong pain. Many cities have succeeded in banning declawing procedures, and these communities have taken the first step towards promoting healthy scratching behavior.
Where is declawing banned?
Declawing is outlawed in the United Kingdom, Australia and many other countries. You can find a full list of nations that ban declawing here. At least one bill to ban declawing statewide has been proposed in almost every U.S. state, but it may take years before we see widespread anti-declaw legislation in this country.
The first state to ban declawing was New York in 2019. In contrast, a number of cities in California including Berkley, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Culver City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Monica have banned declawing within their borders but the state as a whole refuses to do the same. In fact, California SB 762, passed into law in 2009) makes it impossible for cities to ban declawing or any other area of veterinary ‘expertise’ that had been common practice before 1/1/2010. Thankfully, the list of aforementioned cities had banned declawing before that date.
What are some alternatives to declawing?
There are many alternatives to this painful procedure.
How can I get involved with declaw legislation?
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.