ALBANY, N.Y. – Hailed as a victory for cats, a statewide ban took effect in New York Monday banning veterinarians from declawing pet felines no matter the frustration of owners with scratched and destroyed furniture.
It is the nation’s first state law forbidding the declawing of cats, though some cities and counties have done so. Vets can be fined $1,000 for ignoring the ban, unless the declawing is a medical necessity.
“It’s a wonderful day for the cats of the state and the people who love them,’’ said Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, primary sponsor of the legislation and owner of two pet cats, Kitty and Vida.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation into law, describing the declawing procedure as archaic and unnecessary. New York’s Democrat-controlled legislature approved the measure in June with bipartisan support.
The New York State Veterinary Medical Society lobbied against the ban. It argued pet owners and medical professionals should have the option to declaw cats who are a hopeless nuisance, using furniture for scratching poles or causing issues for elderly owners.
The society feared outlawing declawing would likely cause more house cats to be euthanized or abandoned.
Declawing is a surgical procedure removing most of the last bone and tendons, nerves and ligaments on the front feet of a cat.
The Humane Society of the United States, which opposes declawing for non-medical purposes, recommends pet owners train kittens to use scratching posts when they are about eight weeks old.
Details for this story were provided by CNHI’s New York state reporter, Joe Mahoney. Reach him, at firstname.lastname@example.org.