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First US State Bans Declawing Cats

Veterinarians in New York can still perform the controversial procedure for medical reasons
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 22, 2019 4:28 PM CDT
In this May 17, 2016, file photo, a cat named Rubio walks in front of the podium during a news conference in Albany, NY.   (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

(Newser) – New York became the first US state to ban the declawing of cats Monday, joining most of Europe, several Canadian provinces, and a growing list of American cities that already prohibit a procedure animal advocates call cruel and unnecessary. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the New York ban, the AP reports. Supporters of the new law, which took effect immediately, predict it will lead to similar proposals across the country. "This is a real triumph for cats and the people who love them," said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, who pushed for years and who yielded to temptation when it came feline-themed puns on Monday. "This has catapulted New York to a leadership position when it comes to cruelty against felines." According to The Paw Project, a California-based group that supports bans on declawing, bills to prohibit the procedure are pending in several states, including New Jersey, California, and Massachusetts, where lawmakers held a hearing on the measure Monday.

Declawing a cat involves slicing through bone to amputate a cat's toes back to the first knuckle. The operation was once commonly performed to protect furniture and human skin from feline scratching but has in recent years come under scrutiny by animal welfare advocates, cat owners, and many vets. While many vets urged lawmakers to pass the ban, the state's largest veterinary organization opposed the bill. The New York State Veterinary Medical Society argued that declawing should be allowed as a last resort for felines that won't stop scratching furniture or humans—or when the cat's owner has a weakened immune system, putting them at greater risk of infection from a scratch. Under the bill, which easily passed the Democrat-led Senate and Assembly in early June, veterinarians could still perform the procedure for medical reasons, such as infection or injury.

(Read more declawing stories.)

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