‘Let a cat be a cat’: Declawing blamed for behavioral issues, surrendered animals

"It's a barbaric surgery" Reaction to bill banning declawing cats in New York

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Pet owners have been declawing cats for years to save their furniture, but one state is working to “save” the cats.

New York is on track to becoming the first state in the U.S. to ban declawing. The New York legislature passed a ban on declawing, Tuesday, which is now headed to the governor’s desk.

Supporters of the ban say the procedure is painful and inhumane. A cat’s claws are attached to bone, so declawing requires slicing through tendon and nerves to remove the last segment of bone in a cat’s toes, according to a report by the Associated Press.

“It’s a pretty barbaric surgery,” Robin Young, outreach coordinator for Richmond Animal Care and Control, said. “It’s not fair to cats.”

Claws are not the equivalent to human fingernails. Experts say declawing is something people have done for decades, but often don't realize how severe and harmful it can be to animals.

“Maybe in some cases, vets were not giving them the full scope of what’s involved,” Young said.

Opponents argue that a declawing ban could lead to people giving up their cats. Others say declawing is actually what often causes cats to be brought to shelters.

“It’s like you’re basically taking off their knuckle,” Chante Thomas, who is looking to adopt a pet from RACC, said. “It’s not natural.”

Supporters estimate at least 25 percent of all domestic cats in the U.S. have been declawed.

While New York would be the first state to adopt the ban, cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver have already adopted it. It’s also illegal in parts of Europe.

Those who violate the ban could face up to a $1,000 fine.

Young says this can cause more problems in the long run, such as phantom pain, infection, no defense mechanism and behavioral issues. Some of those unhappy pet owners ultimately bring their declawed cat to a shelter.

“Unfortunately, because of that surgery and because of the side effects, people give up and (the declawed cats) get turned into shelters because they’re not using their litter box or they’re not happy any more," Young said. “They’re grouchy. They’re in pain.”

Some ways to coax your cat away from the living room chair are using scratching posts and pads, covering furniture when company isn’t around, making loud noise when the cat begins to scratch, and giving your kitty enough play time so energy won’t be taken out on the drapes.

“Let a cat be a cat and have its claws and be happy and pain free,” Young said.

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