Experts Torn On Cat Declaw Ban

Jan 27, 2017

Some say the government should keep it's paws off of cat claws
Credit Ang Santos / WBGO

New Jersey could become the first state to ban veterinarians from declawing cats.  Feline advocates are split over whether the legislation is a good idea.

A bill passed by the Assembly and awaiting action in the state Senate would fine veterinarians as much as $2000 for declawing a cat unless it’s considered medically necessary.  Kathleen Schatzmann, the state director of the Humane Society, supports the proposed ban.

“It is an unnecessary surgery most often performed for convenience issues such as to address problems scratching of household furniture and it provides no benefit whatsoever to the cat.”

Shatzmann says declawing a cat may lead to behavioral problems such as litterbox aversion and increased biting.

“These conditions often lead owners to surrender their declawed cats and places financial burdens on already strained shelters and often to taxpayers.”

Some have reasons not to support the declaw ban.  A vet in Middletown is opposed to the legislation.  He thinks the government should keep its paws off of people’s pets.

“It should be considered only when the health of the owner is at risk or if an owner has exhausted all alternatives to keep the pet in the household.

Michael Yurkus, a member of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, says a declaw decision should be left to pet owners and their vets.

“We are not pro-declaw. We are anti-euthanasia. We are anti-surrender. We do not want to see these animals given up because we cannot declaw them.”

Yurkus says some pet owners with serious medical conditions could suffer life-threatening infections from a cat scratch.

“People with children who have hemophiliacs or other blood disorders. Clients who have had transplants or are on immunotherapy, on blood thinners, they have HIV, the have cancer. Something where a cat even playfully scratching them could lead to a life-threatening infection.”

Others say an onychectomy, the medical term for the declawing procedure, is invasive and prohibits cats from performing natural behaviors
Credit Ang Santos / WBGO

Nicole Feddersen, the medical director of the Monmouth County SPCA, says the procedure is unfair to the cat.

“It’s an invasive surgery. There is post-operative pain, lameness, and obviously the cat still has an urge to scratch but is unable to perform a natural behavior.”

The bill passed the assembly by a 43 to 10 vote.  If that’s an indication of what the state senate will do, all cats will keep their claws, and New Jersey residents might want to consider stock in companies that make plastic furniture covers.