LANSING, Mich. — Cat declawing could be banned under a new bill introduced in the Michigan House on Thursday.
If passed, House Bill 4674 would forbid veterinarians from performing surgeries that would impede cats from the natural use of their claws, paws or toes.
Exceptions may be made if the cat’s health would be otherwise threatened.
The bill was introduced by Representatives Wilson, Brixie, Morse, Wegela, Andrews, Byrnes, Price, McKinney, Rheingans, Hood, Hope, Hill, Coleman and Breen.
A similar bill was introduced in Michigan three years ago, shortly after New York became the first U.S. state to ban the procedure.
“First of all, declawing is not what a lot of people think it is. So, it’s not a nail trim,” explained JJ LaBelle, vice president of Community Cat Crew. “It is the permanent amputation of the first knuckle of the cat’s paw. So, that entire first joint is removed, which causes the cat to walk in a way that is abnormal.”
LaBelle says that can bring on early onset arthritis, behavioral issues, cause the cat to be more aggressive and even cause them to urinate outside of their litter box.
The bill would allow for declawing if it’s necessary to address a therapeutic purpose, such as to fix an injured toe.
“We see cats that are polydactyl. So, instead of having five little toes, they can have 7, 8, 9, 10, and those claws can sometimes grow into the pad, and that’s a very dangerous and painful situation. Many times, that can be handled with trimming, but sometimes it is medically necessary to remove those claws. But those are supplemental toes and don’t change the way the cat walks,” LaBelle told FOX 17.
Many people decide to declaw their cats to keep them from ruining property, like couches, by scratching.
Scratching is necessary behavior for cats, LaBelle says.
LaBelle says there are ways to deter cats from scratching your furniture.
“We strongly recommend having multiple types of scratching devices. There are these really cool ones now that actually go right over the corner of your sofa that allow them to scratch in a way that’s not damaging. Keeping their nails trimmed. Another option is simply just training them where to scratch. Most people don’t believe it, but cats can be very trainable,” explained Labelle.
Read the full bill proposed on Thursday below.
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