Cat declawing may soon be a thing of the past in California

A bill banning the declawing of cats has started making its way through the legislature

Photo courtesy ©BigStockPhoto.comAssemblyman Bill Quirk has introduced a bill that would ban the declawing of cats in California.

“Declawed cats can suffer long-term physical complications as a result of declawing—it’s not just a fancy manicure,” Quirk said upon introducing AB 1230. “It’s painful, unnecessary, and needs to stop… When this bill becomes law, only licensed veterinarians performing the procedure for specific therapeutic purposes will legally be able to declaw a cat, saving them from a lifetime of pain and possible lameness.”

The practice is already illegal in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and six other California cities. Further, in several other parts of the world, declawing has been banned.

“Declawing is one of the most painful and unnecessary surgeries in all of veterinary medicine,” said Jennifer Conrad, DVM, CVA, founder of the veterinarian-run nonprofit Paw Project. “We’ve seen what these cats go through. We are veterinarians who are standing up against the status quo because it is the right thing to do. We want veterinary medicine to be about helping animals, not helping couches.”

Studies have found declawed cats are more liable to bite or have other behavioral issues and often end up in animal shelters as a result.

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12 thoughts on “Cat declawing may soon be a thing of the past in California

  1. As co-founder of The International Coalition Against Declawing I hope and pray this bill will pass and that the rest of the USA and Canada will also soon join us in the civilised world where cats are not mutilated and disabled by this cruel surgery

    1. I respect your opinion on this. Consider the following, though: I have known many cat owners who either relinquished their cats or turned them outside because of the damage done to furniture, windowsills, curtains, etc. The ones turned outside are exposed to disease, fights with other animals, automobile injuries or death, etc.
      On the other hand, after 29 years of declawing cats, I have yet to see one relinquished due to behavior problems that developed after being declawed.
      To me, a few days of pain, controlled with pain medications, followed by a lifetime of indoor living in luxury, is much more compassionate than kicking the cat to the yard.

      1. I’m a veterinarian in rural Washington State. I literally have women tell me their husband will shoot the cat if it can’t be declawed. It’s my belief that cats would rather be alive without claws and endure a few days of minimal pain on BupSR than be dead.

      2. My own cat was declawed 10 years ago. He has since developed aggression in clinic settings (put me in the hospital for 3 days of IV antibiotics) and has chronic “idiopathic” cystitis. He also had severe hyperflexion of his remaining toe joints until I had a salvage procedure done last year. Now he is much more manageable, his cystitis is improved, and he’s back to catching mice and chasing his tail – something he hadn’t done in YEARS! I know not all cats exhibit signs of chronic pain, but please remember that this is a life-altering procedure that changes paw anatomy beyond removal of the last phalanx. Cats a digigrade, and when their weight must now be put on the cartilaginous ends of their second phalanx, rather than their third, they shift their weight distribution. This can lead to arthritis later in life. Then as their flexor tendon continues to contract (no longer opposed by the extensor tendon), they are essential left to walk on hammer toes. Not to mention the phantom pains that they must experience, as human amputees report. This chronic pain often remains hidden, as cats are both predator and prey animals, but often manifests as aggression and urinary troubles. Both of which are leading reasons for relinquishment.

      3. People who would throw their pet out the door because they can’t be bothered to look into how they can modify unwanted behavior should not have had one to begin with.

        And I wonder how many Cats were gotten rid of because they stopped using the litter box after being declawed, or do you just not consider it as being related?

  2. There’s always going to be different opinions regarding this subject. I for one have owned cats all of my life and they have all been declawed. They have no disabilities and they are not in pain. My cats and hundreds of other cats that I have taken care of are happy well balanced felines.

    1. Mary…Like you, my cats have always had their front claws removed. Never had a problem like these people are talking about. I’m 73 and have continuously had several cats in my life since I was about 5 years old.

  3. I am in my 70’s and have kept cats for most of those years. I currently have six cats. I have never had a cat declawed because I think it is unnecessary and barbaric. I provide my cats with plenty of scratching stations and if one of them takes an interest in furniture, I spray that item with Comfort Spray for Cats, and the cat immediately loses interest in furniture. However, even if my cats did claw the sofa or whatever, I wouldn’t allow them to have their claws torn out, because I love my cats more than an inanimate object that I sit on. All of my cats are rescues and in the past I have adopted two cats who were declawed. One was roaming around my neighborhood for several months with zero claws. I took her in when I realized that she was a stray, but she had to be put down several years later due to arthritis in her feet that was so painful she wouldn’t walk. She appeared to be eight or nine years old when she died and had no other health problems. I sincerely hope that California passes the anti-declawing bill and that the rest of the country follows.

  4. I find it so disheartening that fellow veterinary professionals still condone this procedure. If a client asked you to declaw their dog or extract teeth to counteract damaging behavior, they’d be referred to a behaviorist. But a cat, who is perfectly trainable, needs to have a life-altering amputation, often before there is any unwanted behavior. There is no excuse for this double standard.

    Cats hide pain well. We all know this. We also know that stressors often lead to FLUTD symptoms. When you sever the extensor tendons during this procedure, the flexor tendons are left unopposed, leading to hyperflexion later on. Ask any vet tech who’s made paw prints of declawed cats! The toes are scrunched together, the pads are calluses and misshapen. We all see the changes, we just refuse to acknowledge it as a problem. So please, don’t tell me that three days a buprenorphine cuts it.