New York state's legislature just took a big step for cats with a bill banning declawing. This cruel practice is starting to die out thanks to better understanding of what declawing really means for cats, but legislation like this protects cats still at risk.
Declawing procedures aren't just a nail trim. They involve amputating the entire tip of each toe to ensure the claw is removed and won't grow back. Cats are at risk of complications that can include nerve damage, infections, lameness, and hypersensitivity. Some experience back pain because of changes in their gait. Others find it so uncomfortable to use the litterbox that they eliminate next to it, not in it.
Declawing won't fix biting, aggression, fighting, or other unwanted behaviors. Cat guardians who are frustrated by scratching have lots of options available including better environmental enrichment, training, regular nail trimming, and nail caps.
And no, cats with claws aren't inherently more dangerous for older adults and immunocompromised people, as long as they're well cared for. If someone has difficulty regularly trimming a pet's claws, cleaning the litterbox, and keeping up with other needs, volunteer organizations are ready to help.
Some claim declawing prevents surrenders, abandonment, and euthanasia, but there's not a lot of evidence to support that. In regions with bans, no communities have observed a change in behavior patterns. And plenty of shelters in regions without bans have declawed cats who were surrendered by their owners or got lost in the streets, proving that declawing isn't insurance that animals will stay out of the shelter system.
There's no justifiable reason for this procedure beyond explicit medical necessity, like bone cancer. the ASPCA, Humane Society of the United State, and American Animal Hospital Association agree: Declawing is not the solution some people think it is.
Tell your state legislators to take a bite out of the Big Apple and get a move on with their own bans: Cats are counting on them to take a small step that will make a big difference.
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