New York State Bans Cat Declawing
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the anti-declawing bill into law on Monday.
[Saying] “New York is the first state in the country to ban the practice.”
New York on Monday became the first state in the country to ban cat declawing, a practice that animal advocates consider cruel and unnecessary. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the bill into law after state legislators passed the ban last month.
“By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures,” Governor Cuomo, a Democrat, said in a statement.
The law goes into effect immediately and makes exceptions for medical purposes. Performing the procedure on a cat for any other reason could lead to a fine of up to $1,000.
Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, a Democrat, first introduced the bill in January 2015. “As a cat lover and someone who has cats, I said this is cruel, barbaric and inhumane,” Ms. Rosenthal said on Monday.
She said she hoped a similar bill would also pass in Massachusetts, where legislators are considering a ban on declawing cats. “Other states tend to emulate what New York does,” Ms. Rosenthal said.
Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver were the first cities to ban cat declawing.
“Governor Cuomo’s signing of this historic bill in New York is a watershed moment for the declawing issue, and we hope other states will follow suit by prohibiting this unnecessary convenience surgery,” Kitty Block, the president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement.
Declawing is often misconstrued as a “surgical removal of the nail,” said Dr. Eileen Jefferson, a New York State representative for the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.
But declawing is an invasive, painful operation that removes individual toe bones from the cat’s paws, Dr. Jefferson said. She compared it to “an amputation.”
Declawed cats sometimes bite more or refuse to use their litter boxes, which are harder to use without claws, said Jennifer Conrad, a veterinarian and the founder of the Paw Project, an anti-declawing advocacy organization.
The ban is a “positive for cats in New York,” Dr. Conrad added.
The New York State Veterinary Medical Society opposed the ban, and said in a statement released in May that declawing “should be an available option when the alternative is abandonment or euthanasia.” The organization declined to comment on the bill becoming state law.
Going forward, Ms. Rosenthal wants to work on changing the perception of animals as property.
“Having this bill become law indicates that New York is changing the way we view animals and our relationship with them,” she said.