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State Is First to Ban Cat Declawing

The law takes effect immediately.

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New York has become the first U.S. state to ban the declawing of cats.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation prohibiting the practice, effective immediately.

“Declawing is a cruel and painful procedure that can create physical and behavioral problems for helpless animals, and today it stops,” Cuomo said in a press release.

“By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures.”

New York Sen. Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris said, “I am proud of the new Senate majority’s emphasis on animal welfare and am glad the Governor enacted this legislation.”

Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal said, “Now that my bill has become law, New York has been catapulted onto the leaderboard of humane states, and we expect other states to quickly follow in out footsteps.”

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The governor’s office stated:

Declawing, also known as onychectomy, involves the removal of all or most of the last bone of each of the toes of the front feet, and tendons, nerves and ligaments that allow for normal function of the paw are severed, resulting in intense and chronic pain and other serious medical or behavioral issues. After the claws are removed, cats often shift their gait and where it places most of its weight, causing strain on its leg joints and spine, which can lead to early onset arthritis and prolonged back and joint pain. Cats’ claws play an important role in various aspects of their lives, including to assist in climbing and maintaining balance and to escape danger.

CNN noted that the law “makes exceptions for ‘therapeutic purposes,’ or when the declawing would benefit the cat’s health.”

The New York State Veterinary Medical Society states on its website: “Veterinarians take the issue of onychectomy (declawing) very seriously and believe that it should be an available option when the alternative is abandonment or euthanasia.”

The society states that veterinarians “should be permitted to make medical decisions after direct consultation with a client and a thorough examination of the patient and its home circumstances.”

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