The Declawing Debate


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This week, St. Louis became the first city in the Midwest to institute a ban on cat declawing, a procedure known as onychectomy. It joins nine other U.S. cities that have similar legislation, as well as New York, which has a statewide ban. California, New Jersey, West Virginia, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are considering statewide bans too.

“St. Louis is proud to have taken an important step towards joining the multitude of cities and states moving to ban this archaic procedure,” said Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, author of the declawing bill. “The way we treat and care for our pets is indicative of the priorities we should set on behalf of all vulnerable populations in our community.”

This procedure is controversial because many pet advocates consider it to be unnecessary and cruel.The procedure typically involves the amputation of the last bone of each of a feline’s toes. It has been compared to cutting off each of a person’s fingers at the last knuckle. It can also cause lasting pain and put cats at risk for infection post-surgery. Many veterinarians now refuse to perform the procedure.

However, for some pet parents, declawing holds benefits. For those who keep indoor cats in small spaces like city apartments, declawing a cat can protect furniture and other belongings from being scratched up. It can also prevent cats from scratching their human companions.

Anti-declawing advocates believe that there safer, kinder alternatives to onychectomy. Animal welfare groups recommend keeping cats’ claws trimmed and having scratching posts available. Products like deterrent sprays and sticky tapes can be applied to furniture to deter clawing too. There are even soft plastic caps that can be painlessly applied by a veterinarian to a cat’s claws in order to keep them from being sharp.

 

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