New Jersey May Become First State to Outlaw Declawing Cats

Animal welfare advocates applaud New Jersey’s proposed legislation to ban the inhumane practice of declawing cats. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

My home state of New Jersey is primed to become the first state in the U.S. to outlaw the practice of declawing of cats, thanks to legislation introduced by animal loving Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), which also happens to be my home county.

According to the terms of Bill 3899, “No person shall perform, or cause to be performed, an onychectomy (declawing) or flexor tendonectomy procedure by any means on a cat or other animal, unless the procedure is deemed necessary for a therapeutic purpose by a licensed veterinarian. A person who violates this provision shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense.”

If the legislation passes, and it seems likely that it will, the practice of onychetomy (the fancy medical term for declawing) will officially be declared an act of animal cruelty. Any cat parent who seeks such a procedure for the pet or any veterinarian who performs this can be subject to fines of up to $1,000, a six-month prison term, or both.

Animal welfare advocates have long fought to end the highly inhumane declawing practice, which misguided cat parents may resort to in order to deter their kitties from clawing furniture and other household objects.

Arguably the most well-known anti-declawing activist is Dr. Jennifer Conrad, a California-based veterinarian who in 2000 founded a non-profit group called the Paw Project, which is dedicated to educating the public about the harmful effects and ending the practice of declawing.

Anti-declawing advocates point out that this practice is a form of mutilation that is comparable to a person having their fingers amputated at the first joint. As clawing is deeply ingrained in a cat’s inherent nature, this can cause numerous behavioral problems in felines including excessive biting and litter box issues. This can also lead to such physical ailments as lameness and arthritis, because this disrupts a cat’s gait and ability to move naturally.

Declawing is already banned in a number of foreign countries and on the municipal level in such U.S. cities as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Burbank, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Beverly Hills and Culver City. New York State is also considering a statewide ban. But if Assemblyman Singleton is successful, New Jersey may become the first state to enact this legislation.

I have known about the cruelty of declawing for years, and would never dream of having this procedure performed on any of my beloved cats. So hats off to my home state for putting the effort into banning this terrible practice!


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