Consider this a big win for cats everywhere. New York has just become the first state to make it illegal to declaw your cat for any reason other than illness, infection, disease, or injury. Declawing cats has always been a point of controversy, and has been banned in individual American cities, but New York has now made history as the first state to do so.
“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 writes on its website. “Declawing is both painful and traumatic, and it was been outlawed in Germany and other parts of Europe as a form of cruelty.”
New York State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal made headlines when she originally had this bill passed in June, and was just awaiting the signature of state governor Andrew Cuomo.
"Declawing a cat is not like getting a mani/pedi, it's a brutal surgical procedure that involves removing the first bone of the cat's toe and part of the tendons and muscles," Rosenthal said in a statement in June. "Now that New York is poised to become the first state in the nation to ban cat declawing, the days when this procedure is cavalierly offered for the convenience of the owners to protect couches and curtain are numbered."
This week, Governor Cuomo signed the bill, and the law is now effective immediately.
"By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures," Cuomo said in a statement.
As for Rosenthal, she says she's "overjoyed."
"Today is that cats and animal lovers have been looking forward to for years," she said.
The New York State Veterinary Medical Society opposes the legislation however, saying that there are legitimate reasons to declaw a cat.
"Many doctors direct that their patients have their cats declawed when they are immuno-compromised, diabetic, hemophiliac, on immune suppressing medication, and for various other medical reasons," NYSVMS said in a statement. "NYSVMS believes a veterinarian, as a licensed medical professional with the education and knowledge to safely perform medical procedures on animals, should be permitted to make medical decisions after direct consultation with a client and a thorough examination of the patient and its home circumstances."
But, as pointed out earlier the new law does take these exceptions into account, saying that declawing for "therapeutic purposes" like an illness, infection, disease, injury, or condition that could compromise the cat's health would still be an option. However, those who violate the declawing ban not for any of these reasons could face up to $1,000 in fines.
Rosenthal hopes this law will "teach a lesson to people who value their furniture above a cat’s ability to function... If you value your furniture, then don't get a cat."