Bill to Ban Non-Therapeutic Cat Declawing Introduced

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) has introduced a bill that that will end the unnecessary and inhumane surgery commonly known as declawing, for non-therapeutic purposes.  Declawing, also known as onychectomy or partial digital amputation, is the removal of the last toe bones in a cat's paws from which the claw grows.  The surgery is well-recognized to have no benefit to the animal and is mostly performed to stop cats from using their claws to scratch furniture.

“Declawed cats can suffer long-term physical complications as a result of declawing – it’s not just a fancy manicure. It’s painful, unnecessary, and needs to stop,” said Assemblymember Quirk.

Declawing is illegal, or considered unethical, in much of the rest of the world.  Eight California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, enacted the first laws banning the surgery in North America.  Since the declaw bans went into effect, the number of cats abandoned to city shelters have decreased for multiple cities each year.  “I attribute the decrease in relinquishment of cats to our shelters to the decrease in behavioral problems that are the result of declawing. We strongly believe that a ban on declawing saves the lives of cats,” explained the Los Angeles Animal Services Department General Manager, Brenda Barnette.

Dr. Jennifer Conrad, veterinarian and founder of the veterinarian-run nonprofit, Paw Project, said, “Declawing is one of the most painful and unnecessary surgeries in all of veterinary medicine.  We've seen what these cats go through.  We are veterinarians who are standing up against the status quo because it is the right thing to do. We want veterinary medicine to be about helping animals, not helping couches.”

Common reasons expressed for performing declaw surgery are readily refuted by an increasing volume of evidence from scientific experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.  These health authorities have long held that declawing cats "is not advised" to protect people, even those with the most weakened immune systems.  Recent studies have found that declawed cats are more likely to bite, with the unintended consequence that immuncompromised people are actually being put at greater risk.

“I am proud to be partnering with Paw Project on this legislation. When this bill becomes law, only licensed veterinarians performing the procedure for specific therapeutic purposes will legally be able to declaw a cat, saving them from a life time of pain and possible lameness,” said Assemblymember Quirk upon introducing AB 1230.