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‘Hands Off My Paws!’ Cats Rejoice As New York Poised To Pass Law Banning Declawing

June is National Adopt a Shelter Cat Month. With adoption comes the expectation of proper pet care and our fuzzy feline friends only deserve the best. Cats just won a major victory in New York State. A law just passed a statewide ban on the declawing of cats and it’s about to be the first state in the U.S. to do so. The bill is on the Governor’s desk, awaiting his review and signature.

Cat owners know a lot about their precious fluffers, but some things aren’t common knowledge. Canned cat food needs to be stored between 50 and 100 degrees before being served. Some cats are notoriously picky about collars, being touched, eating, the list is lengthy. Onychectomy — the medical declawing procedure — isn’t as familiar with many, but it’s been widely condemned as an inhumane procedure in the field of veterinarian medicine. Still, plenty of people don’t know that and when kittens begin receiving their vaccinations between six and eight weeks old, declawing procedures are also often being scheduled. Fortunately, it has gained more exposure in recent years and New York has set the stage, banning declawing cats unless it’s medically necessary. The ban follows a long fought battle of many animal rights and veterinary groups, not to mention cats themselves.

“Declawing is a convenience surgery, with a very high complication rate, that offers no benefit to the cat,” said Brian Shapiro, the Humane Society of the United States’ New York Director.

In the legislative proceedings, the measure was widely accepted, but no bill is without friction. One Republican assemblyman argued that declawing cats should be a medical decision rather than a legislative one. Others saw declawing as a better alternative to pet abandonment or euthanasia. Still, the sweeping majority argued that the procedure is akin to mutilation. With 42.58 million people around the U.S. renting apartments, declawing cats has often been used as a way to protect property, doors, couches, and the like from being scratched, but at a painful cost to the animal. The CDC even recommends being more selective about pet ownership and using alternative sanitation methods in lieu of declawing cats.

“It is not like getting a mani/pedi, it’s a brutal surgical procedure. The days when this procedure is cavalierly offered for the convenience of the owners to protect couches and curtains are numbered,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal.

The procedure has been compared to amputating a human fingertip at the first knuckle. About 59% of people with chronic pain say it impacts their overall enjoyment of life. For perspective, the declawing procedure is commonly a source of post-operation pain that cats will experience for the rest of their lives. No living thing wants that, so enough is enough.

The bill flew through both houses and awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature. The law will impose a $1,000 fine on veterinarians who perform the procedure outside of medical necessity.