New York to ban cat declawing

New York will ban pet owners from declawing their cats. Photo credit: Getty

New York is about to make it illegal for cat owners to declaw their pets.

Declawing, or onychectomy, is the removal of an animal's claws by partially amputating their toes. Cats who are declawed typically have their toes removed back to the first knuckle.

Owners who have their cats declawed often do so in an attempt to get them to stop scratching them or their furniture, although it can be necessary for medical purposes such as if a cat develops cancerous tumours in its nail beds.

On Tuesday (local time) New York City lawmakers passed a ban on declawing after years of campaigning from veterinary groups. It would forbid declawing surgeries except in cases of medical necessity, and outlaw any done for "cosmetic or aesthetic reasons".

If Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the bill into law, New York City will join Los Angeles and Denver which have also banned declawing.

Manhattan Democrat Linda Rosenthal is one of the politicians backing the bill, and says it will target those who "think their furniture is more important than their cat".

"It's unnecessary, it's painful, and it causes the cat problems," she told the New York Times. "It's just brutal."

The Humane Society of the United States says declawing is an "unnecessary surgery" that can give cats lasting physical and behavioural problems such as excessive biting and avoiding the litterbox.

Cosmetic declawing is illegal in New Zealand under the Code of Professional Conduct issued by the Veterinary Council of New Zealand in 2011.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) "regards animals as sentient beings, not simply objects for self-gratification, adornment or exploitation".