The process of surgically removing claws from cats involves cutting bone and tendons as well as nerves
Maryland could become the second US state to ban declawing cats as lawmakers are reportedly working to prohibit the practice.
It is already outlawed in American cities such as Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Austin, Denver, Beverly Hills and Berkeley. New York state banned the practice in 2019, while many other states are also considering a declawing ban.
Lawmakers in Maryland are seeking to introduce the animal rights legislation to stop veterinarians from removing a cat’s claws, and plan to impose fines as high as $5,000 (£3,800) for the first offence, on top of suspending veterinary licences, according to The Washington Post.
First introduced in a session in 2020, the legislation is expected to receive final approval in the House of Representatives this week. In the previous proposal in the house, it was cut short before a vote on the matter. This bill, along with an identical one that cleared the Senate test last month, can be sent to the governor’s desk if approved.
Senate bill sponsor Cheryl C Kagan said that average Marylanders have no special interest but want to do right by their pets. “You can’t ignore the fact that animal lovers are outspoken activists, and this is an election year,” Senator Kagan said.
She referred to the practice as “de-knuckling”, while others have called it an amputation. When a veterinarian declaws a cat’s paw, they take “not just the nail, but also the nail bed and part of the bone and cut it off”, she said.
“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,” Ms Kagan said.
Experts in the field are hoping that the practice fades.
“While the US veterinary community is increasingly opposed to declawing, we can’t continue to wait for the profession to end declawing on its own,” Danielle Bays of the Humane Society of the United States said.
“The United States has seen an increasing number of state bills banning declawing being taken to the house in the past few years, signalling that the lawmakers and citizens are seeing the practice for what it is — painful, inhumane and cruel to their feline friends.”
The process of surgically removing claws from cats involves cutting bone and tendon as well as nerves. Sometimes, the veterinarians remove a part of the cat’s paw or digit or modify the tendon of the limb.
On its national website, The Humane Society of the United States has said that people often think declawing is a simple surgery that removes a cat’s nails, the equivalent of having fingernails trimmed. “Sadly, this is far from the truth,” it says.
“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.”
It adds: “It is an unnecessary surgery that provides no medical benefit to the cat. Educated pet parents can easily train their cats to use their claws in a manner that allows everyone in the household to live together happily.”
As per the American Veterinary Medical Association, a cat may only be declawed after other methods of controlling their scratching behaviour have been exhausted or if “it has been determined that the cat’s claws present a human health risk”.
On the other hand, many in favour of declawing, including veterinarians, have sought for the practice to be not banned as it proves to be a necessity some times.
The practice is illegal in many countries in Europe, Brazil, Israel, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.