Clawing Their Way to the Top: Which Cities Have Banned Declawing Cats

The state of Michigan is on the verge of banning the declawing of cats, except when medically necessary. Michigan would become the third state in the US to completely ban this controversial medical procedure. However, a selection of cities across the country have their own existing bans in place.

Orange tabby cat getting his front paw claw trimmed at the doctor's office

Compared to the rest of the world, declawing is much more widely available and practiced in the US. But more cities and states are moving to ensure that declawing is only undertaken with proper medical reasoning.

What is Declawing?

Declawing is the complete removal of a cat’s claws so that they will never grow back. Also known as onychectomy, the procedure is an invasive surgical treatment that involves the removal of the cat’s toes up to the first knuckle.

It’s not a simple nail removal, as the claws would just grow back – instead, it’s the equivalent of removing the tips of the fingers in humans. Where successful, it means that the claw is permanently gone and will never grow back.

Which US Cities Have Banned Declawing?

The first US city to ban declawing was West Hollywood back in 2003. Since then, 7 more Californian cities have banned the procedure, including Beverley Hills, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Burbank. It’s also outlawed in Austin, TX; Denver, CO; St. Louis, MO: Pittsburgh and Allentown, PA; and Madison, WI.

Then in 2019, New York became the first state to ban declawing cats completely, and Maryland became the second state to do so in 2022. Washington, DC, became the latest city to ban it in 2023, while Michigan is currently in the process of putting the law into effect.

Canada and Declawing

In Canada, the laws on declawing are decided at the provincial level, and so far, nine of the 10 provinces in the country have outlawed it. These are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and Quebec. Quebec’s ban only comes into effect from February 2024.

This means that Ontario, home of the largest city in the country (Toronto), is the only province yet to ban declawing.

Declawing Laws Worldwide

In the rest of the world, many countries have banned declawing already. Most of Europe has made sure that the procedure is not available, including the UK and the majority of the European Union.

Declawing is also illegal in Australia and New Zealand.

Part of the reason why declawing is still available in much of the US but less so elsewhere is because there is a higher percentage of indoor cats in America. Around the rest of the world, more cats spend time outdoors, as there aren’t as many predators such as coyotes.

Indoor cats tend to be more destructive of furniture, which is one of the reasons homeowners declaw their kitties.

Why is Declawing a Problem?

Declawing cats is a serious procedure that many cat owners and veterinarians don’t agree with. It can significantly impact a cat, including changing their personality – many cats have been known to get depressed or become more aggressive once their claws are removed, and they can take to biting.

Cats have a natural urge to scratch, which doesn’t disappear when the claws are removed. However, they cannot satisfy this urge, leading to frustration and emotional problems for the cat.

Medical Issues with Declawing

Declawing a cat can also have medical implications. Some cats have encountered lifelong pain and mobility issues since they can no longer fully stretch their muscles. It can impact a cat’s posture and walking ability, so it’s more than just painful on the paws themselves.

There are short-term but serious medical problems that can occur, too, including bleeding and pain around the claws and a risk of infection.

Plus, declawing is not always successful. You can put your cat through significant stress and potential illness, only for its claws to return later. While it’s rare for claws to grow back, it is documented as a possibility.

The Arguments for Declawing

Those who favor declawing tend to focus on a cat’s inability to scratch as the main benefit. Scratching can be frustrating for cat owners, especially in families with children. Some owners don’t want to risk their cat causing themselves or their family pain. However, the fact that cats often bite out of frustration once claws are removed can render this argument moot.

More commonly, owners declaw their cats to protect their furniture. Cats can be destructive, and selfish owners would often prefer to preserve their homes and put their cats through potential pain and suffering rather than looking into proper alternatives.

Why Do Cats Scratch?

There are a number of reasons why cats have an innate need to scratch. It’s part of their regular stretching routine, and it also helps them to express their emotions. Cats also use scratching as a way of venting frustration and also to mark objects with their scent – there are glands within the paws.

Scratching also helps to remove dead parts of the cat’s claws.

Declawing Alternatives

The best alternatives to declawing a cat are providing good quality scratching furnishings. Cats should be allowed to scratch – owners should provide an alternative place for a cat to scratch instead of removing the possibility.

Many different scratching surfaces are available, including carpet, sisal rope, cardboard, and more. Owners can experiment with different surfaces and different styles of scratcher (tower, bowl, ramp, etc.) to find one(s) that works well for their cat.

It’s also important to look after a cat’s nails. Many owners are afraid of clipping their cat’s nails but also want to avoid the cost and time of taking their cats to have their nails clipped by a professional. Many owners could circumvent their issues by purchasing dedicated safety clippers for cat claws and then spending time learning to use them confidently.

The Future of Declawing in the US

Banning declawing procedures in the US is only a recent movement, and the laws are expected to roll out to more states in the coming years. As the US looks to catch up to the declawing laws of the rest of the Western world, more cats should become protected from this invasive and potentially harmful operation.

Owners who are considering declawing their cats should seriously consider the implications and potential risks, along with the many options for alternative solutions to the problems they are worried about.

This article was produced by Floppycats and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Website | + posts

Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.