Maryland will be the second US state to ban cat declawing for cosmetic or aesthetic purposes

Maryland is slated to become the second state in the US to ban the unnecessary declawing of cats after the House voted to prohibit the practice.

According to the Associated PressNew York passed a similar legislation in 2019, and many other states are also considering a ban on declawing.

The Washington Post reported that the bill after it passed on Maryland House and Senate could soon be headed to the governor to be signed into law.

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Declawing is already outlawed in several US cities, including West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Denver, Austin, Berkeley, and Beverly Hills.

The Senate Bill sponsor, Democratic Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan, gave a vivid explanation of how the procedure goes.

She said that declawing, or what she refers to as de-knuckling, “takes not just the nail, but the nail bed and part of the bone and cuts it off. What happens is that leaves a cavity there, and that makes it very painful for them to walk, to use their litter box or to just be happy little, little campers.”

kitty touching a flower
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Others call declawing an amputation because of its traumatizing effect on our feline friends.

Senate Bill 67 would prohibit veterinarians from declawing cats for aesthetic purposes, cosmetic reasons, or for the convenience of their owners. But if medically necessary, the procedure will be allowed.

Kagan also noted how the bill, which was first introduced in a session in 2020, will protect cats in the future. She said average Marylanders have no special interest but want to do right by their beloved pets.

“You can’t ignore the fact that animal lovers are outspoken, and this is an election year,” she said.

Veterinarians who break the law will be fined up to $5,000 for a first offense and as high as $10,000 for a second offense. Their license will also be revoked or suspended if they perform the procedure without a valid reason.

A cat's paw
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Several veterinarians who are pro- and anti-declawing testified in front of the Maryland Senate.

Moira Cyphers, a lobbyist for the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, said that declawing is taken as “a last resort” and its popularity has declined in the last decade.

Experts in the field are hoping the inhumane practice fades.

“While the US veterinary community is opposed to declawing, we can’t continue to wait for the profession to end declawing on its own,” said Danielle Bays of the Humane Society of the United States.

The organization states on its website that people often assume that declawing is a simple surgery that removes a cat’s nails, similar to when humans get their fingernails trimmed. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

A woman on a bed with two cats
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“Declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.”

The surgery provides no medical benefit to a cat. Instead of having their claws removed, pet owners can train their cats to use their claws in a way that won’t damage people and objects.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and PETA support the ban on declawing.

“Declawing is a violent, invasive, painful, and unnecessary mutilation that involves 10 separate amputations – not just of cats’ nails but of their joints as well,” PETA wrote on its website.

“Declawing is both painful and traumatic, and it was outlawed in Germany and other parts of Europe as a form of cruelty.”

Pisco the cat
pisco the cat

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, declawing a cat can only be done after other methods of controlling their scratching behavior have been exhausted or if it has been determined that feline’s claws present a “human health risk.”

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