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As pet guardians, we want what’s best for our furry companions. We buy them good food, take them to the veterinarian when they’re sick, and spoil them with treats and toys. And we love them no matter what, even when we find a chewed-up shoe, torn blankets or discover they’ve used the living room sofa as a scratching post or chew toy.

For cat guardians, the issue of a pet shredding furniture, flooring or draperies can be a frequent point of frustration. And while there are certainly plenty of ways to help stop unwanted scratching, declawing has frequently been used as a solution to the problem. But times are changing, with more controversy surrounding the procedure due to not only to it being viewed as inhumane but because of the pain involved and potential medical side-effects that can arise after the surgery.

The controversy over declawing domestic cats had led many countries to take action by passing legislation to make it illegal. The U.S. is a bit behind in this new trend, but a New Jersey bill that’s currently sitting in the hands of the state’s Senate would make it the first state in the U.S. to make declawing  an animal cruelty offense punishable by fines up to $1,000 or six months in jail (unless it’s deemed necessary for medical reasons).

Why Declawing is Controversial

Is Declawing Your Cat a Crime? Some States Think it Should BePixabay

 

What many believe to be a simple surgery is actually an amputation that removes a cat’s claws, and part of bone and tendon that goes down to the first knuckle. To put it into perspective, it’s the equivalent of a human losing the top portion of their fingers. Even though the procedure is performed under anesthesia, the recovery can be extremely painful for cats. Surgery can also cause complications from infection, or result in long-term chronic pain or lameness.

Declawing is often performed as a way to deter unwanted behaviors like scratching furniture, but the act of scratching is a natural and completely normal behavior for cats, beginning as early as eight weeks of age. This is why cats whose claws have been removed with continue to go through the motions of scratching. They aren’t clawing at your furniture and curtains to be “bad” or destructive, they’re simply doing what comes naturally to them.

Animal welfare organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have long opposed the declawing domestic cats for the purpose of convenience. But it’s not just animal welfare organizations that think declawing should stop being viewed as an automatic solution, even the American Veterinary Medical Association has changed their standing to say other options should be sought out first.

Making Declawing Illegal

New Jersey isn’t the first state to look into anti-declawing legislation. A bill was introduced in New York in 2015, but unfortunately didn’t make it through. Outside of the U.S., however, similar legislation has been successful, with declawing being banned in more than 21 other countries. In Israel, the penalty for declawing a cat is around $20,000 or one year in prison.

Though we don’t have full statewide bans in the U.S.—at least, not yet — veterinarians and advocates have had success on the city level. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and West Hollywood are just a few cities in California that have banned declawing. And statewide laws prohibiting landlords from requiring tenants to declaw their cats have been successful in California and Rhode Island.

Some say banning declawing will result in more cats ending up in shelters when people become frustrated with having their furniture scratched, adding to the homeless pet problem. But just like housetraining or teaching a dog not to chew on your shoes, changing behavior through positive reinforcement takes time and patience. And with the proper tools at your disposal, managing your cat’s scratching behavior is possible.

Alternatives to Declawing

Is Declawing Your Cat a Crime? Some States Think it Should BeJennifer C./Flickr

 

Protecting your home from claw damage doesn’t have to involve putting your cat through a painful medical procedure. There are plenty of humane alternatives to declawing that will keep both you and your cat happy.

  • The easiest solution is to provide your cat with plenty of acceptable surfaces to scratch, and train them to use those surfaces. Place a few scratching posts or platforms around your home to give your cat a scratching surface in each room. You can also make your own by using discarded scraps of wood and wrapping it with rope or carpet squares.
  • Veterinary clinics and local pet supply stores sell vinyl nail caps that glue onto your cat’s nail, meaning they’ll do less damage when they claw at surfaces.
  • Regular nail trimmings also help minimize furniture damage by keeping nails short and less sharp.
  • Deter cats from scratching surfaces by using special sticky tape available at your local pet supply store.

Lead image source: Pixabay

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0 comments on “Is Declawing Your Cat a Crime? Some States Think it Should Be”

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Shirley Joy Swaine
2 Months Ago

I just want to clarify a comment in this article which is slightly misleading i.e. "The controversy over declawing domestic cats had led many countries to take action by passing legislation to make it illegal" The UK (where I live) is one of those countries but there has never been any controversy over elective declawing here as it has NEVER been practiced here, ditto most of those other countries. The legislation in the UK that makes declawing illegal is a legislation that makes ANY elective mutilation of an animal illegal and prior to that legislation such savage mutilation as declawing was against the ethics of the veterinary ruling body. Globally, as I understand it, declawing is essentially an American and Canadian practice or requested by ex-pats of those countries living in countries where the mutilation is permitted. NO other developed country permits this mutilation.

As for furniture damage, the reality is that dogs do more damage than cats - much more. Statistics on the website \'theinsuranceblogger.co.uk\' (no figures could be found for US and Canada) show claims for household damage run at 55%dogs, 29% cats and 16% others - and that\'s in a country where ALL cats have their claws.


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Kate
2 Months Ago

It should not be allowed as it is mutilation. I agree with Renata-if you can not deal with the scratching do not have a cat. I have scratching posts and yet they still like to do the furniture sometimes.. Oh well. I had a cat who was declawed,not by me- and She was a special needs cat. she would never jump on or off the furniture and was really just a slow cat even though she was young.I wondered if she was that way before being declawed or became that way as a result of it. She was one of the sweetest cats I have lived with and although she was supposed to go back to the person with whom she lived I was not sorry that she never came bak for her cat asI most injured having her.
Linda, I understand your guilt. I say that if one does not know and does something it is one thing but when the same person know the facts and does it again it is not acceptable and you learned the reality and will not repeat what you did-that is what is important. Any vet who considers her/himself to be be an animal lover should think twice if they declaw cats.


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Renata
2 Months Ago

It\'s something terrible. In most of the world it is a forbidden practice.. So it is in Europe. Cats do scratch, it\'s their nature. There are fabrics that don\'t go with cats: it\'s an Aut-Aut so to say: either that fabric (velvet, jute ...) or the cats. I had seven cats and I am interested in interior design so I designed my house. But I did with them in mind.
Avoiding some fabric, avoiding cane and similar, putting scratching posts and boards, a huge cat-tree in the bedroom and so on w had happy lives together (they are forever missed).
Cats do scratch and if you don\'t want that then you shouldn\'t have cats. And yes, you need to be patient when introducing a new cat, keeping them in separate rooms for a few days, approaching them slowly, strictly supervised and so on. Gone through all this twice and once it was an adult cat with a tiny kitten. Just a bit of patience.
Declawing is monstrous, it is a permanent handicap, it\'s mutilation.


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linda carlson
3 Months Ago

We took in a 4 week old kitten. I was not going to let my neighbor take her to a shelter. My 2 year old cat Fluffy was very territorial & didnt like her being there. She wouldnt sleep & would not let the kitten out of her sight. We feared she would hurt her by some of the things she was already doing so we had her declawed. I would do anything for my babies. So Fluffy spent a month on my bed. Wouldnt get off so i brought her food & water & even brought the litter box in, with paper in it. But she had alot of bleeding, & looked so sad. I feared blood poisoning from the ink in the shredded paper. Yuk! I shed many a tear. Took her a while to get back to being Fluffy even when she did get off the bed. She healed great. But had i known what they actually do to a cats paws, i never would have had it done. I kept apoligizing to my cat. Saying i\'m so sorry for what i did. She lived to be 17 but seeing her all those years going through the motions of clawing & scratching bothered me. The baby kitten lived to be 17 too. I think declawing should be considered a crime. There are so many other ways to keep them from scratching furniture & stuff. Putting a cat through that just to protect something is just ridiculous. You can fix furniture & buy new curtains but you cant get back fun time with them thats lost because of the time it takes for them to heal. It should be illegal!


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