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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: February 19, 2021 03:51 PM
From: Representative Liz Hanbidge and Rep. Steven R. Malagari
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation Prohibiting the Declawing of Cats
Declawing (onychectomy) is an elective procedure that amputates most or all of the last bone of each of the cat’s toes. The procedure is commonly performed to prevent unwanted scratching. Animal advocates, veterinarians, and others acknowledge that this procedure is inhumane, unnecessary, and traumatic. The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, Paw Project, Alley Cat Allies, and International Society of Feline Medicine do not support declawing cats as an elective procedure. The industry has changed. In 2020, the nation’s largest veterinary chains, VCA, Banfield, and Blue Pearl, with their 10,000+ veterinarians nationwide, banned declawing.

Declawing is illegal or considered unethical by the veterinary profession in much of the world. Declawing was banned in the state of New York in 2019. Eight cities in California, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, plus St. Louis, MO and Denver, CO have enacted declaw bans. Veterinarians in seven of the ten Canadian provinces have rejected declawing as unethical and inhumane practice. Legislation to prohibit declawing has been introduced in NJ, CT, MA, AZ, and Ontario this year.

Declawing a cat can cause chronic pain, infection, nerve and tissue damage, bone spurs, lameness, as well as back pain caused by changes in the cat’s natural gait. Declawing may negatively affect litter box use and can result in increased aggression, including biting.

Tumor, persistent infection, injury, and congenital abnormality are examples of medical conditions that may justify the removal of a claw.

For these reasons, we will be introducing legislation amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes prohibiting the declawing of cats unless the procedure is medically necessary for a therapeutic purpose and performed by a licensed veterinarian. Under this measure, declawing for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons, as well as for reasons of convenience, would be strictly prohibited.

I hope you will join me in support of this important legislation ending this cruel and unnecessary practice.

Introduced as HB1624