New York may become the first state to ban cat declawing

A bill to make declawing illegal in New York has passed the state legislature. If the governor signs off on it, New York will become the first state to outlaw the practice.

Declawing is the practice of removing a cat’s claws to prevent scratching. According to the Humane Society, the process usually involves removing the last bone of each toe on the cat’s paw. Animal activists claim declawing is a needlessly painful process, and the Humane Society recommends it only in the most dire circumstances, when the health of the cat is affected.

New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal is the main sponsor of bill A01303. Rosenthal has proposed similar legislation for several sessions dating back to 2015.

The bill will now go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

If the bill becomes law, the penalty for declawing will be a fine “not to exceed $1,000.” The bill does make exceptions for “therapeutic purpose(s),” such as for treatment of an illness or disease.

“Declawing a cat is not like getting a mani/pedi, it’s a brutal surgical procedure that involves removing the first bone of the cat’s toe and part of the tendons and muscles,” Rosenthal said in a statement provided to CNN. “Now that New York is poised to become the first state in the nation to ban cat declawing, the days when this procedure is cavalierly offered for the convenience of the owners to protect couches and curtain are numbered.”

Rosenthal has a history of sponsoring animal rights-related legislation, including bills to curtail the sale of cats, dogs and other pets in pet stores, and the creation of an animal abuse registry.

Despite general opposition to declawing, some veterinary professionals argue the practice shouldn’t be outlawed.

The New York State Veterinary Medical Society opposes the measure, and says there are some situations in which declawing is necessary.

“Many doctors direct that their patients have their cats declawed when they are immuno-compromised, diabetic, hemophiliac, on immune suppressing medication, and for various other medical reasons,” reads a statement provided to CNN from the NYSVMS.

“NYSVMS believes a veterinarian, as a licensed medical professional with the education and knowledge to safely perform medical procedures on animals, should be permitted to make medical decisions after direct consultation with a client and a thorough examination of the patient and its home circumstances.”

Declawing is illegal in a few countries, as well as a few US cities, including Denver and San Francisco. A similar bill to ban the practice statewide is currently making its way through California’s legistature.