New York is first state to ban cat declawing


BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | New York has officially become the first state in the country to ban cat declawing. 

On Mon., July 22,  Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and state Senator Michael Gianaris banning cat declawing. 

Under the new legislation, unless the procedure is performed to address a legitimate medical condition, cat owners that declaw their pets are subject to a fine of up to $1,000. 

“By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures,” Cuomo said in a statement. 

Declawing involves the removal of almost all of the last bone in each toe of the cat’s front feet, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The equivalent for a human being would be cutting off each finger at the first knuckle. 

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal with an A.S.P.C.A. cat named Oats. Rosenthal’s bill banning cat declawing in New York State was signed into law on July 22. (Courtesy Assemblymember Rosenthal)

The procedure also calls for the removal of some tendons, ligaments and nerves in the cat’s paw, and can lead to chronic pain for the animals. 

“Complications from declawing include an increase in biting and litter-box avoidance —which often results in the cat being surrendered to an animal shelter,” said Kitty Block, president and C.E.O. of the Humane Society of the U.S. “The organization applauds Assemblymember Rosenthal and Senator Gianaris for the bill.”

According to The New York Times, several cities, including Los Angeles and Denver, have banned the practice. California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and West Virginia are also pushing to ban declawing, according to the Humane Society. Several Canadian provinces and European countries, including the U.K., Sweden, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, have banned the procedure, as well. 

Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side, said she hopes others will now follow in New York’s paw steps…er, footsteps.

“Now that my bill has become law,” she said, “New York has been catapulted onto the leaderboard of humane states, and we expect other states to quickly follow in our footsteps.”

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