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New Jersey Assembly Panel Approves Cat Declawing Ban

By Aly Semigran    November 17, 2016 / (11) comments

In what could become a landmark decision, the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in New Jersey approved of a bill (titled A3899/S2410) that would deem declawing an act of animal cruelty, except in cases where it is medically necessary. 


According to NJ.com, the bill states that "Veterinarians caught declawing a cat and people who seek them out would face a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail. Violators would also face a civil penalty of $500 to $2,000." 


The ban of the controversial procedure—in which the claw and, sometimes, the bony top of each finger or toe is removed—would be the first of its kind in the United States. The news has been met with varying responses from lawmakers and veterinary professionals. 


NJ.com reports that Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), who sponsored the bill, said in a statement: "Declawing is a barbaric practice that more often than not is done for the sake of convenience rather than necessity. Many countries worldwide acknowledge the inhumane nature of declawing, which causes extreme pain to cats. It's time for New Jersey to join them." Nicole Feddersen, medical director for the Monmouth County SPCA, also described it as an "invasive surgery," that puts cats "at risk for pain and lameness."


However, some medical professionals, including the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, oppose the bill. In a statement release to petMD, the NJVMA says that because so many pet parents who are unwilling or unable to change their cat's scratching behaviors, they are "likely to abandon or euthanize their cats if de-clawing is not an option. The NJVMA believes that de-clawing is preferable to abandonment or euthanasia." They also note that at-risk pet parents (including diabetics) can not run the risk of having a cat scratch them. 


The NJVMA cites that, "Veterinarians are the animal experts. Medical procedures should not be legislated but should be left as a decision between the owner and his or her veterinarian." They also argue that those opposed to declawing "generally reference outdated medical and pain management procedures. Modern veterinary medicine now provides much-improved pain management procedures and the utilization of laser surgery have improved both the outcome and recovery times for de-clawed cats." 


For some safe and effective alternatives to decalwing your cat, read up on these vet-suggested tips.


Image via Shutterstock 

Comments  11

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  • Declawing or not
    12/01/2016 09:44pm

    Too many cats need homes to put that kind of restriction in place. I had a cat declawed 20 years ago and he was fine. I wouldn't do it again but the one I now have was declawed before I got her and is fine with it. When the time comes for another one, I will search out and try to adopt one that is already declawed since they do come in to shelters, can never become outdoor cats again, and I keep mine indoors or in a harness with me outdoors. Getting them homes is most important, but we do need to understand the pain and detrimental facts better. Still, I would have to question if it is a legislative decision.

  • 12/16/2016 05:39am

    Well said. Thanks

    12/01/2016 11:12pm

    This cruel maiming of cats should be banned everywhere! It is already banned in most countries. There is no need for this. There are MANY alternatives. Ask your vet! Your cat can't tell you if it bothers them or not, but if you have ever sliced off part of a finger, then you know the uncomfortable feeling you get when you touch that finger down on something. This is the same sensation that a cat has for the rest of it's life if it is declawed. They learn to live with it, but it isn't comfortable for them. Many, but not all, will not use a litter box because it is too uncomfortable to walk on the litter. Another problem is that if the cat gets outside--even an indoor cat can sneak out--it has absolutely no way to protect itself. If you would choose to not cut off the tips of your fingers, then don't do it to your cat!

    12/02/2016 01:24am

    I ended up homeless with my two sons when hubby abandoned us... i knew we were going to have to find a place to live and would be a shelter or an apartment but first i found the dog a place to live because i know if renting usually no dogs are accepted. So he is somewhere great having a great time. My one son took our only cat left to stay at a friends house in case i and his younger brother needed to go into a shelter boys his age would not be able to come, the older one was only 15. But this cat was another one i saved; the aspca was down the road and we lived a rural area so we would get a lot of cats and kittens dropped off. I saved this kitten from getting hit by a car. I have never paid for a cat they all have been rescues. She never got declawed but would claw up our desk chairs and door frames but our house was a mess anyhow so when i had to rent she still did it but things were donated to us because we had nothing but a lamp. we were in an apartment and i knew we could sneak our cat in lol.. then they brought me a very young kitten as Mother's day gift. I ended up going to do a house share with someone and didn't want to be blamed if the cats clawed up anything they were already freaking about the possibility and told me i needed to do something or they could not come in with us. [b]First i tried those nail covers! NO WAY AGAIN!! [/b]First the glue is toxic and the one cat when i finally got them on her she chewed them down with her own nails right down to a nub and ripped them off and bled from it....[b]it was the most[b] inhumane [/b]thing i have seen! plus they walked as if in extreme pain! Both of them did.. in fact the one refused to even walk until i took them back off.[/b] So when the one was 2yrs old and the other one was already 6 yrs old i had them declawed. Sure in the beginning they were sore but that was short lived they are still as active as ever and the one thinks she still has claws lol.. the house share didn't work and i found a place that would take the animals including a medium sized rescued dog.. if the cats were not declawed they would have not been taken. I feel if this is what you have to do to make sure your animals don't end up in the middle of the road hit by a car because they are homeless... then so be it. Plus i believe if you have a house cat they are just that do not let them go around outside alone and let them wondering around if not put them in a barn with the other cats... i feel i have saved all the cats in my life... i had a cat that died at 19 years old and one at 14 years old and they were very happy nails or not. My two now are 5 and 10 years old and have no problems at all, i did keep the back claws because when i investigated the issue found they defend themselves with the back claws and just in case they ended up outside by accident. Sooooo we as humans also get our sons circumcised and some people say they feel the pain and it should not be done??? i had my boys done, coming in the world could have been painful for them too so why do people harp at having that done when it can prevent infections and such??? they are adults now and have no idea of any pain...Me i remember my own lmao and cried from overwhelming love not the pain

  • 12/14/2016 02:49am

    i have had cats my entire life! Indoor! Never lost one outside and they have all been declawed and very happy babies! my current male is 3 yrs old and very loving and happy and playful. the vet did a perfect job declawing him and I wouldn't have it any other way. I pay too much for furniture and curtains and bedspreads., whatever to have claws ruining them. I don't care what anyone says, I'm a senior and had enough cats to know when they are happy or not, I say leave the owners decide! thank you

  • 01/03/2017 08:38pm

    Well said. My cats are/have always been declawed, as are the cats owned by other family members. There has never been a problem with any of them. In fact, in the past, one of my cats (a rescue as all my cats have always been), had had a serious ear injury at some point his young life which left him with a broken/bent ear and extensive scar tissue. His balance was terrible, unable to even jump on/off a foot-stool. He walked/maintained his balance by catching or pulling himself around by his claws. This went on for months, and yes you can imagine the damage he caused, as we attempted/tried everything from trimming nails/glue on rubber-tips etc. Finally my husband (who was not a fan of declawing) agreed to have him declawed.
    No problems with the surgery, within two weeks his balance began to improve. Why? Because he couldn't "cheat" by catching himself with his claws. He had to learn how to maneuver/balance on his feet/legs, not rely on his claws to pull himself along. And he did learn, very quickly. Within a couple of months he went from a cat who couldn't hop on/off a footstool without falling, to a normal cat, jumping/climbing without issue -- tops of bookcases/refrigerators etc. Wherever he felt like being.

    It is also totally incorrect to state that a declawed cat cannot climb a tree. My cats are indoors only, however my sisters; and my mother's have always been indoor/outdoor cats. Declawed, all of them can most certainly climb a tree without any difficulty whatsoever.

    They can also protect/assert themselves just fine. Just ask my husband's dog (a 50 pd female blue healer/dalmatian mix) who wins the race/gets the toy/gets the food -- her or my 18 pd Van mix cat Imhotep? It's not the dog. It's Imhotep with a look, a set of lungs, and a swipe of his paw claws or no claws that dare anyone or anything to try it, just try it. He'll rip your lungs out.

  • My Cat's Experience
    01/03/2017 11:53pm

    I didn't know the wonderful cat I had gotten at the pound was declawed. They hadn't noticed, either. So, they had him in a cage with other cats. (Despite what the article's opponents indicate, the claw and maybe a little tip of bone is not what is removed. The entire first joint of their paws are amputated.) Without defenses to protect him, he had multiple claw marks on his little face (not the first time I've heard of other cats ganging up on a declawed cat). What I witnessed over the years was this: he had developed a walk to compensate for the amputation of his front toes. This walk put strain on his lower back and eventually caused thinning of the discs between those vertebrae, and pain. His toes were sensitive to any surfaces which were not soft or smooth. Also, with due respect, animals hide pain. We can think our cat has no pain and is "fine" but that's our own opinion sometimes borne of our own guilt. The cat didn't get to speak for him or herself. Finally, during the recession, I ended up jobless and on friends' couches for a couple of years. I kept him with me or at one point in a foster situation with a very good friend. However, if forced into making a lasting decision about him, it would have been to find the most loving home for him. It would have been wrenching for both of us. However, I would never have opted to amputate his toes. (And I'm struggling to understand how someone couldn't afford a place to live but had a thousand dollars or so to declaw two cats -- two major operations.)
    In the past, we were all kept in the dark as to the exact nature of the operation. But now that we know, I find it hard to understand how anyone who loves cats would intentionally expose them to a disfiguring and painful procedure. Dogs have nails that scratch and sometimes ruin wood flooring and doors (when they want to get out). I don't see anyone suggesting we do this to dogs. There'd be a huge uproar -- and rightly so. So, why torture cats? Use your creativity, clawing posts and other means a mere left-click away to come up with a pain-free solution for you, your cat and your home. You and your cats will be happier for it.

  • 01/04/2017 01:18am

    that is hard for me to believe, the amputee part, my cat has his toes, they look no different than my daughters cats feet,,,,,,the only thing missing are the nails

  • 01/04/2017 07:45pm

    I know...I have had cats clawed and declawed. I have never had one declawed until I had to live somewhere that was not my own home or an apartment. I read everything, including those inhumane nail caps... but I know this that when I was looking to declaw the older one my research I came across was never to declaw an older cat but it was either that or another homeless and I wanted to keep her, she was the last of our animals I had when we had to leave our home. So I know how a cat is as an adult and clawed and an adult declawed. She was 6 when she was declawed, only the fronts I ever do. Yes for the first week she hurt some, but after that she was her usual self. She is going to be 11 now and there has been NO difference in her walking, running, climbing at all. NO problems attacking her sister cat and getting her into a head lock and rabbit kicking her with her back claws. She can hit really hard with those front paws, so now the dog i have whines when she blocks a doorway... She still scratches things with her fronts as if she still had claws and it brings her no pain at all, i think it is just a way to wake me up! lol.. They are both very happy kitties and so is my landlord. If I rescue another one and still don't own my own home I would do it again, because all the cats I have had are ones that were left in the streets to die.. Both I have now where left when they were under a month old and if I hadn't saved them they would be dead and not living a happy kittie life that I wanted for them. Safe and secure, well fed, a roof over their heads and loved, not abandoned.

  • 01/04/2017 07:51pm

    Oh and I touch their paws all the time, so no pain, the one falls asleep that way

  • declawing
    01/04/2017 01:58am

    There is a reason that this cruel practice is finally being banned. It should be banned everywhere! If you have ever lost part of a finger or had a serious injury to a toe or finger then you know the odd sensitive feeling that remains long after the wound has healed. This is the same feeling the cat has to live with for the rest of it's life. The cat cannot tell you that it is uncomfortable, but that feeling is there. It is uncomfortable with every step--especially when stepping into a litter box. Please do research and have compassion for your pet. Do not maim an innocent animal like this. If your cat accidently sneaks out the door, it no longer has any way to defend itself against other creatures. We share our house with 8 rescued cats, none of whom are declawed. I wouldn't even consider it any more than I would want to amputate a leg unnecessarily. I love my pets more than my furniture. There are many other options that work perfectly well. Please have compassion and don't do this to your cat. I have worked in a veterinary hospital and I know how cruel this is. Please don't do it. Talk to your vet about alternatives. Please.