Denver Becomes the Latest U.S. City to Ban Declawing Cats

PetMD Editorial
Published: November 15, 2017
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Becoming the first city in the state of Colorado to ban elective cat declawing, Denver has made the decision to prohibit veterinarians from performing the controversial procedure unless it's medically necessary. (Denver is now the first U.S. city outside of California to make this move.) 

According to the Denver Post, the Denver City Council passed the ordinace Nov. 13, declaring that declawing cats is both inhumane and painful to the felines. This sentiment was backed by several local veterinarians who supported the ban.

The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, on the other hand, opposed the measure, stating that these sorts of decisions should be made between veterinarians and their clients without government interference.

Dr. Aubrey Lavizzo is a state director for Paw Project, which spearheaded this campaign and helped get the bill in motion with the help of Councilwoman Kendra Black. Lavizzo tells petMD that even though it's been a long road (he's been working on this effort for five years), it was worth it to know that the "cruel" and "immoral" practice will no longer be allowed in Denver. 

Lavizzo isn't the only one who feels that way. Take, Jennifer Weston, the owner of Northfield Veterinary Hospital, who calls this decision a victory. Weston, who spoke to the Denver City Council during deliberations, told petMD she is "ecstatic" about the ban. 

Like other vets in her region and beyond, Weston has not offered declawing as a service at her practice, explaining that the procedure can cause lifelong problems and pain for cats. Weston likened the "horrendous pain" for cats with declawed nails to walking "with a pebble in your shoe" every day for the rest of your life. 

Among the issues that declawing can cause for cats, Weston cited bad posturing, limping, painful walking, inappropriate use of the litter box (as the gravel inside can hurt their feet), aggression, and biting. 

Weston hopes that other cities take this movement into consideration and that, in general, veterinarians have more honest and educational discussions with their clients regarding declawing. This includes informing clients about alternatives to declawing, such as nail trims (which some veterinarians provide) and behavior training. 

Image via Shutterstock 

Read more: Declawing Can Result in Long-Term Problems for Cats