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A ban on declawing cats has been passed by New York lawmakers, meaning New York may end up becoming the first state to ban this procedure. This is the result of many years of work from veterinary groups who have been trying to ban the procedure except in instances where it is medically necessary. Several cities already ban cat declawing, such as Denver and Los Angeles. This type of legislation is also being considered by other states, such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California. This move is praised by the Humane Society of United States, pointing out that the move to ban declawing has gained significant traction in recent years.

Formerly known as onychectomy, this procedure is performed mostly by owners who are concerned about cats clawing at and destroying their furniture. Other reasons include when owners have conditions such as hemophilia, diabetes, or immune disorders. Referring to this procedure as declawing is a bit misleading. In fact, the declawing removes not only the claw but part of the finger. In human terms, it would be equivalent to cutting off a finger at the first knuckle. This is obviously painful for the cat and offers no benefit except to the owner.

There are many negatives to declawing that pet owners fail to consider. Not only is declawing an expensive surgery, but it also runs the risk of complication. This can mean even higher vet bills in the long run. Another factor to consider is that if a declawed cat gets outdoors, they won’t have any means of self-defense. Declawing can lead to longe term pain, arthritis, or stiffness, resulting in a cat that’s less playful. Behavioral problems can also result, as cats feel defenseless without their claws, many times resorting to biting. Also, cats that are declawed are more likely to soil the furniture. This is a bit counter-productive since most homeowners declawing their cats are doing so to protect their furniture.

Not all are in favor of this bill, however. New York Veterinary Medical Society opposes this ban, claiming that declawing is an alternative to abandonment or euthanasia for many cats. From the cat’s perspective, there may be cases where it is better to live a long life in a comfortable home than to be left to starve on the street or take up space in a shelter that’s already crowded, only to be euthanized.