Cat Declawing Bill Does Not Address Concerns Of State’s Veterinarians

It’s hard to believe the state Legislature didn’t have better things to do this week than to take up legislation banning the declawing of cats.

The legislation passed both the Senate and the Assembly on Tuesday and will now be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

For the record, even veterinarians who oppose the ban don’t like declawing cats. The New York State Veterinary Medical Society has been opposed to a full ban; the society’s president, Susan Wylegala, told the Associated Press the number of declawings at her Buffalo-area practice is less than 50 percent of what it was just three years ago. Vets who spoke to the AP said cat owners increasingly turn to alternatives — scratching posts, regular clippings or small caps that go over a cat’s nails. Opponents also said they worried that more cats might be given up for adoption or euthanized because their owners would no longer be able to get them declawed. Some lawmakers spoke out against the measure, saying declawing should be kept legal for rare cases in which cat scratches could pose a hazard to owners with weakened immune systems or other medical issues.

In some cases, however, is it worse for the animal to lose its rear claws or to be relegated to a shelter? Animal cruelty laws exist for good reason, but the declawing ban strikes us as government overreach since veterinarians aren’t exactly rushing to declaw every kitten they treat. Sen. Robert Antonacci, R-Syracuse, got it right when he told the Associated Press, “I don’t think government should be involved. I think we should leave it to the vets and the owners.”

Veterinarians are already working to educate people about the process and direct them toward alternatives. And, in some cases, the best thing for the cat may be declawing. A total ban makes little sense. Cuomo should veto this legislation and direct the legislature to craft legislation that addresses the concerns of the state’s veterinarians.