ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation S.5532B/A.1303 on July 22 banning declawing procedures on cats, making New York the first state to prohibit the practice.
“Declawing is a cruel and painful procedure that can create physical and behavioral problems for helpless animals, and today it stops,” Gov. Cuomo said. “By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures.”
Declawing, also known as onychectomy, involves the removal of all or most of the last bone of each of the toes of the front feet, and tendons, nerves and ligaments that allow for normal function of the paw are severed, resulting in intense and chronic pain and other serious medical or behavioral issues. After the claws are removed, cats often shift their gait and where it places most of its weight, causing strain on its leg joints and spine, which can lead to early onset arthritis and prolonged back and joint pain. Cats’ claws play an important role in various aspects of their lives, including to assist in climbing and maintaining balance and to escape danger, according to a press release from the state.
New York state joins several cities in banning declawing, including Los Angeles and Denver; several other states, including California, New Jersey and Massachusetts, are also considering bans, according to the Humane Society of United States.
Kitty Block, president and chief executive officer of the group, said, “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. Complications from declawing include an increase in biting and litter box avoidance — which often results in the cat being surrendered to an animal shelter. ”
The bill had faced opposition from groups like the New York Veterinary Medical Society, which had argued that declawing should be allowed “when the alternative is abandonment or euthanasia.”
The bill takes effect immediately. Violators could face a $1,000 fine.
New York Times contributed to this report.