[UPDATE BELOW]: The State Assemblywoman behind the bill prohibiting humans from tattooing their pets made another good move for the animals recently by introducing legislation that would ban cat declawing.
The Daily News reports that Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal's bill, which has not yet been formally introduced in the state Senate, would prohibit declawing except if it were deemed medically necessary. Cat declawing is a highly controversial practice, with American veterinarians recently agreeing to label it an "amputation" that "should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing presents an above normal health risk for its owner(s)," according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
PETA, the ASPCA, and the Humane Society are all strongly opposed to declawing, with the latter referring to the procedure as "like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle." Declawing can also negatively affect a cat's ability to walk properly, and can contribute to paw irritation. Alternatives to declawing include providing domesticated cats with scratch posts, trimming claws, and gluing soft plastic caps to cats' nails to prevent them from roughing up furniture.
Update 1:24 p.m.: In an interview today, Assemblywoman Rosenthal told us she hoped the proposed declawing legislation would call attention to what she described as inhumane. "There's no reason to do it unless the animal has infection that is never going away, or if there is a cancer or tumor-related issue in the claw," she said. "It's basically done because humans want it done, and I don't think it's our right to mutilate our animals for our own satisfaction."
She noted that New York would be the first state with a declawing ban in place, should the legislation be enacted. "Nobody's stepped up to do it, that's why I'm doing it. People talk about it a lot, but many people still do it, and they have veterinarians who agree to do it, so that has to change. Just like there are some surgeons who will keep performing plastic surgery on their clients as long as they keep paying. It's the same sort of thing, but I think it's totally unethical to perform these kinds of amputations on cats."
The Humane Society of the United States's New York director, Brian Shapiro, offered support for Rosenthal's legislation in a statement provided to us:
People often mistakenly believe that declawing their cats is a harmless "quick fix" for unwanted scratching. They don't realize that declawing includes amputation of the claw and bone to which it is attached, and can have behavioral impacts that make a cat less likely to use the litter box or more likely to bite. Declawing also deprives cats of their natural defenses and can cause lasting physical problems for your cat. Instead of declawing learn how to prevent inappropriate scratching at www.humanesociety.org/catanswertool.