It’s time to ban cruel, inhumane cat declawing

Toledo Blade: For decades, cat declawing was a standard practice. Long thought to control behavior and protect furniture, the procedure became as routine as getting a pet spayed or neutered.

In 2001, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association estimated that 14 million, or 25 percent of all cats in North America, had been declawed.


But in recent years, animal advocates and veterinary groups have reassessed declawing, finding that the practice is cruel, unnecessary, and unhelpful. Now, the state of New York has taken a major step by banning the procedure except in cases of medical necessity, a decision that should serve as a model throughout the country.

It is a common misconception that declawing is a simple nail removal. For this reason, people often choose to declaw cats for personal convenience.

But in fact, declawing is a painful operation that involves the removal of toe bones from cat’s paws. It is essentially an amputation.

Cats who have been declawed have been found to be at a higher risk for developing significant issues after the procedure, including infection. Declawed cats have also been found to soil houses and bite more regularly, two issues that often lead people to give pets up for adoption.

In recent years, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have all come out against declawing.


But few bans need be total, and so New York was wise to insert an exception for when cats need to be declawed to ensure survival. The ASPCA has specifically called for medical exceptions to declawing bans, reasoning that the procedure is “justifiable as a last resort to prevent euthanasia.”

By and large, however, declawing is an outdated practice that inflicts unnecessary pain on defenseless animals. It is preferable, of course, that a cat not scratch its owner or its owner’s furniture.

But as a pet owner, that is all part of the territory. Dogs bark, cats meow and scratch. People considering getting a cat need to understand that reality or, simply, they should not get a cat.

Pets are not merely a piece of property to be done with as one pleases, but another life that deserves the utmost care and respect.

Banning cat declawing is the humane thing to do and it is the right thing to do.