Michigan bill aims to prohibit cat declawing procedures

Violators would face $1,000 civil fine

Cat paw (Pixlr)

DETROIT – Michigan could become just the second state to place a ban on cat declawing procedures if a new bill is passed.

Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights) and a list of other legislatures introduced House Bill No. 5508 this week which aims to “prohibit certain medical procedures for declawing a cat, and to prescribe civil sanctions.”

“An individual shall not perform by any means an onychectomy, a partial or complete phalangectomy, or a tendonectomy procdure, or any other surgical procedure that prevents normal functioning of the claws, on a cat in this state, unless the procedure is necessary for a therapeutic purpose,” the bill reads.

The defines “therapeutic purpose” as “the necessity to address a physical medical condition of a cat, including, but not limited to an existing or recurring illness, infection, disease, injury, or abnormal condition in the claw of a cat that compromises the cat’s health.”

“Therapeutic purpose does not include cosmetic or aesthetic reasons or reasons of convenience in keeping or handling a cat,” the bill reads.

If this were to become law, violators would face a civil fine of $1,000.

Last year, New York became the first state to ban such procedures.

“Declawing is a cruel and painful procedure that can create physical and behavioral problems for helpless animals, and today it stops,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures.”

Risks of declawing your cat

According to the Michigan Humane Society (MHS), declawing is the amputation of the nail and last part of the bone of the cat’s toe. MHS considers it the equivalent to removing your fingertip at the first joint.

From MHS:

Risks include complications with anesthesia, bleeding, infection, reaction to pain medications or certain materials used to close the incisions, nerve damage, potential regrowth of nails over time, and pain that may last long term, especially if effective pain control is not done during and after the procedure.

Scratching is a normal feline behavior. Cats scratch for exercise, to mark territory and to help keep their claws conditioned. Claws are important for defense and balance.

Many people think declawing is an automatic part of owning a cat, but this is not the case and other options should be explored. Scratching posts or mats made of cardboard, wood, sisal, and other materials are available. Offer both horizontal and vertical posts.

The posts should be long enough for your cat to stretch out comfortably. Several posts may be needed, especially in multiple cat households. Place the scratching post in an area where your cat spends most of her time.

Positive reinforcement will encourage your cat to use the appropriate scratching area.

Frequent nail trims to keep the tips of the nails blunt will help prevent damage to furniture. Soft nail caps are also available that can be placed over each nail as another alternative to painful declawing.