California Cities Can Ban Declawing

Cat’s Paws

A state appeals court has ruled that cities in California can ban cat declawing as long as it doesn’t prohibit procedures that state law expressly allows.

On Friday, the court reinstated the West Hollywood ordinance, passed in 2003, which states that the “mere convenience (of declawing) to the pet’s guardian does not justify the unnecessary pain, anguish and permanent disability caused (to) the animal.”

This measure makes it a crime to perform declawing surgery within city limits, except for therapeutic purposes such as removal of infected tissues. Declawed cats that are brought into the city are allowed under the measure.

More on the cat declawing ban after the jump.

From SFGate.com:

Some veterinarians oppose declawing, but their trade group, the California Veterinary Medical Association, has fought the ordinance in court and also opposed statewide legislation.

The surgery involves removing not only the claw but also all or part of the last bone and connecting tendons and ligaments on a feline’s paw. Opponents say the procedure is cruel and unnecessary.

Dissenting Justice Fred Woods said veterinary practice is “a statewide concern” that a city can’t regulate.

The ruling should encourage other local governments to pass similar ordinances, said Bruce Wagman, a lawyer for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

28 Responses to “California Cities Can Ban Declawing”

  1. Takami826 says:

    If this catches on in other states, there goes MANY more cats into shelters because around here, most, if not all apartments stipulate cats MUST be declawed or they cannot be on the property.

  2. Bridgett says:

    Declawing should be banned. It is unnecessary and cruel. It is not merely the removal of the claws. Vets remove the claw and bone up to the nearest joint in the paw. Declawing is the result of sheer laziness on the part of pet owners who can’t be bothered to supply proper scratching surfaces for their cat.

    To keep furniture nice looking, use Soft Paws (http://www.softpaws.com/). Your vet or groomer can put them on for you.

  3. elizabeth says:

    Those people who want de-clawing legally banned because they believe it is painful and cruel to the animal need to open their eyes to the fact that many many cats are punished, abused, hit, and/or dumped at shelters (where many are ultimately euthanized) for scratching their owners, guests and especially children, as well as furniture, too. One of the most horrific cases of abuse I have ever read about involved a cat being thrown across a room into a wall by an irate father after a child was scratched. I have discussed the issue with three different vets over the years. In all cases I came away convinced that the surgery caused some pain for a day or two but that with modern procedures and proper (temporary) presciption of pain killers it is not cruel, and for many indoor cats is the only way they can remain in a family home or apartment.

    Over the years some of my kitties have been front de-clawed and others have lived long lives with their full complement of claws by faithfully using the scratching post. They are, and were, all loved. In each case I have made decisions based on the individual cat and family circumstances at the time. My current beloved 16 year old guy was declawed as a kitten, has never gone near a scratching post, but to this day stretches up and goes through the motions of “scratching” the arm of a particular sofa. That arm gets dirty and must be shampooed frequently but it is not shredded.

    I am not advocating declaw, and any cat with the slightest chance of being outdoors should never be declawed. But I think declaw should be an option and animals rights activists and legislators should concentrate on dog fighting, puppy mills, animal testing, and other areas of real abuse.

  4. Sky Eyes Woman says:

    Yaaay! Kudos to the cities that took this progressive step, I hope many more will follow.

    Now we need to get to work on stopping tail and ear docking of dogs. A hundred years ago there might have been a practical reason to crop a working dog’s tail or ears, but these days it is done solely to appeal to the vanity of people.

    Let’s stop putting our pets through unnecessary and painful surgery just because some people “like the way it looks”.

  5. Bridgett says:

    People who throw cats across the room for scratching need to put in prison for abuse.

    As I alway say, “what was the kid doing to the cat?” children should be taught to respect animals and not allowed to pull tails or hold the kitty inappropriately. If the parent can’t handle a scratch now and then, they shouldn’t have cats.

    This is coming from someone who has had cats all her life, and deserved every scratch she got.

    If you think declawing isn’t inhumane, read this article:

    http://www.declawing.com/htmls/declawing.htm

  6. Bridgett says:

    Declawing is simply for human convenience and the unwillingness to adapt to the needs of another creature.

  7. Bridgett says:

    I should have put out a “don’t put me on my soapbox” sign.

  8. Traci says:

    Elizabeth,

    You make some very good points. I think that the best way to deal with this is education rather than laws. I would support laws banning any requirements that pets be declawed (per apartments for example).

  9. trucorgi says:

    Sky Eyes Woman Says: Let’s stop putting our pets through unnecessary and painful surgery just because some people “like the way it looks”

    Tail docking is NOT done solely for esthetics. It is done to the standard of the breed and has to do with their function as a working dog. Parent clubs have no intention of changing their breed’s standard on the whims of people who do not understand this. Tails are banded and dew claws removed at a day or two old. Tails dry up and fall off much the way the umbilical cord does when it is tied off. This is not a surgical procedure and it is not cruel. The only reason people are calling for a ban is because they are listening to animal rights propaganda and do not have a clue about breeding dogs.

    Bridgett Says: Declawing is the result of sheer laziness on the part of pet owners who can’t be bothered to supply proper scratching surfaces for their cat.

    The same argument could be made about neutering.
    Castration is the result of sheer laziness on the part of pet owners who can’t be bothered to keep their cat from making kittens.

    Any decisions about surgical procedures should be left up to the owner and their vet. The result of government intervention where it doesn’t belong will result in more homeless cats.

    I suggest we have enough real cruelty to worry about. There is no need to be telling licensed veterinarians what procedures they can, or can not offer their clients. If a vet thinks an elective surgery is cruel or unnecessary they are perfectly capable of refusing to do it.

  10. Anne says:

    I have worked for a vet, and have seen tons of declaw surgeries. It’s a nasty procedure, but with medicine now (and especially use of a laser) it is not nearly as bad as some people think. However, the effects of decalwing last long after the surgery and following days, which many people do not realize. I’ve heard countless stories of cats stopping using the litter box because of being declawed, and owners find themselves with even more problems. Other behavioral problems can arise too. It cats have no claws, they tend to bite more for defense. There is a reason declawing (and tail and ear cropping) is banned in many parts of Europe and Australia. I think it’s time that our country starts moving forward as well.

  11. Bridgett says:

    Declawing and castration aren’t exactly the same thing. Laziness is not getting your critter fixed. Castration keeps from creating more critters that need homes. Declawing is for aesthetics.

    How do you keep you cat from having kittens?

  12. Bridgett says:

    My mom had her kitty, Monster, declawed. Her paws looked like the vet had cut them off with a paper cutter. No kidding, straight across.

  13. Bridgett says:

    http://www.cfa.org/articles/health/declawing.html

    Interesting article from the Cat Fanciers Association.

    The AKC is fine with docking tails and ears which is simply to maintain the standard but doesn’t improve the life of the dog. While the CFA says clawing is natural behavior. Hum…wonder why the difference?

  14. Amy says:

    I tried Softpaws on my boy Macks and he got the Softpaw stuck in my couch upholstery when going through the motions of clawing. Thankfully I was home to free him or he probably would’ve ripped his entire claw out of his paw. Of course it required me cutting a hole into my sofa to free him. Needless to say I won’t be using Softpaws again.

  15. trucorgi says:

    Bridgett Says:
    http://www.cfa.org/articles/health/declawing.html
    Interesting article from the Cat Fanciers Association.
    The AKC is fine with docking tails and ears which is simply to maintain the standard but doesn’t improve the life of the dog. While the CFA says clawing is natural behavior. Hum…wonder why the difference?

    http://www.cdb.org/case4dock.htm#_why
    Tail damage, Hygiene and breed standard. Tail docking has everything to do with the function of the breed and the welfare of the dog while performing that function.

  16. JennyG says:

    I agree with those above that say laws are not the answer. And will probably result in more animals in shelters or put to sleep. There are very loving cat parents that dote attention and care on their cats that have them declawed. I have seen many declawed cats and have never seen any of the issues that are mentioned on the anti-declawing web pages. I have never seen a cat that I have known personally that stopped using the litter box because they were declawed or ever started biting because of it. The cats continue to act just as if they have claws - including going through the motions. And there are countries that equate neutering the same as declawing - so that is probably why the comparison above.

    Bridgett says: My mom had her kitty, Monster, declawed. Her paws looked like the vet had cut them off with a paper cutter. No kidding, straight across.
    My response is that the vet didn’t know what he was doing. I wouldn’t take a cat to that vet for any treatment if that is indeed what they looked like.

  17. JennyG says:

    Also, for biting and not using the litter boxes, there are so many other possible reasons for these issues. Such as dirty litter boxes, FUS, poor treatment or environment within the home, stress, etc……

  18. petslave says:

    Every declawed cat we got in to the shelter I volunteered at was given up because it was a bad biter &/or didn’t use the litter box. I’ve never met a declawed cat that acted like a clawed cat, either at the shelter or friends homes–they had all adopted some defensive mechanism that helped them feel less vulnerable without claws. Just clip them short, darn it!!

    As to docking tails & ears–a number of European countries have banned or are in the process of banning one or both of these & they have breeds over there too. I don’t understand the job thing–german shorthaired pointers are docked but english pointers not, yet they do the same dang job. Spaniels docked, setters not. poodles docked, labs not. Some shepherds docked, some not–same jobs different breeds. Explain please???

    Castration as a lazy way of birth control??!!?? Let a female cat go through a bunch of heat cycles without breeding–she will most probably get severe pyrometria & possibly die during the surgery to save here. Female dogs get breast cancer, male dogs higher rates of testicular cancer if not neutered. I do think the shelters push neutering at too early an age, but most people can’t/won’t be careful enough to prevent accidental breeding. Trying to stop a determined intact animal from getting out & seeking a mate is difficult for most people & the home situations the animal is in.

  19. trucorgi says:

    I don’t understand the job thing–german shorthaired pointers are docked but english pointers not, yet they do the same dang job. Spaniels docked, setters not. poodles docked, labs not. Some shepherds docked, some not–same jobs different breeds. Explain please???

    It’s complicated and it’s not one size fits all. To understand this you would have to study the history of each of these breeds. You would have to know where they were developed to work (terrain, climate etc) and what kind of work they were developed to do as well as the tail carriage and type of coat. So yes, it can be the same job but done in a different area which has an impact. For instance, a gun dog that has to go into heavy brush with burrs to retrieve, the tail probably was a detriment and often injured. A water retriever like a lab needs his thick tail to use as a rudder. The poodle’s tail is thin and does not help with swimming. It probably got frostbitten a lot. The foofy poodle cut we see in the show ring also has a historical purpose. The coat was trimmed as not to weigh the poodle down in water but the coat was left on the joints to keep them insulated. An Old English sheepdog was probably docked for hygiene. Farmers didn’t go around cleaning poopy butts. They docked the sheep and the sheep dogs to keep them clean. These are just a few exmples.

  20. petslave says:

    I know a whole lot about dog breeds. Setters & retrievers work in heavy bur-ridden brush all the time & none of them are docked. My point is that the breed standard has nothing to do with what the dogs were used for originally, they are just a breed standard for the show ring. Many of the breeds now don’t look anything like the original breed that actually hunted, guarded & herded. And whether a ‘tail was docked in the old days was up to the owner, I doubt every single dog everywhere was docked when it was born like it is now because it’s a US AKC breed standard.

    People set breed standards & people can change them. I have an English-based book of dog breeds–their dobie has ears & a tail! And ear cropping–are you fighting your dogs? Almost none of our dogs are used for the original purposes now, and most of the original reasons for docking & cropping are pointless now. Many European countries don’t allow this & still have breed standards & shows. The bottom line is it’s an archaic artifact that the AKC hangs on to that should be banned–the time has come.

  21. Bridgett says:

    JennyG, Don’t worry, we didnt take Monst back to that vet. My mother was heartbroken and I came unglued when I saw her feet. It actually took Monst a couple of years before she started sitting upright like a normal cat. She used to lean back on her hind legs and let her front legs hang in front of her. Poor kitty. That vet was on the sh** list after that.

    My thinking is, if God put it there ie tails, ears, claws, they are there for a reason.

  22. Bridgett says:

    Petslave,

    My exact thoughts. Purebreed dogs rarely do what they were designed to do. How many poor neurotic border collies are out there as house pets rather than herding? German sheperds, pets, setters, pets, etc.

    I totally agree that these practices are archaic, no longer needed and are inhumane. They should be banned.

  23. trucorgi says:

    Bridgett says: My thinking is, if God put it there ie tails, ears, claws, they are there for a reason.

    Testicles?
    Dew claws?

    Bridgett says: How many poor neurotic border collies are out there as house pets rather than herding?

    I don’t know but plenty are compeating in obedience and agility. This is the reason why people should do thier research on the different breeds before they buy/adopt a dog.

    As far as tails are conserned, there are plenty of dogs available with tails. If you oppose docking choose a breed with a tail. Many breeds carry a gene for a natural bob, although rare, it does exist.

  24. StumbleUpon, part whatever « a middle-class white female says:

    […] The cat that I had before Nina (her name was Maizie, and my mom gave her away when I went to college) was declawed because my mom demanded it, and then took her to get it done without telling me.  I think it’s so mean to do that to a cat, and I’m glad some people agree. […]

  25. Bridgett says:

    Trucorgi, I do agree people need to do there research before the buy. I had a friend who had a border collie that was obsessed with herding a chicken coop. Talk about a miserable existence, trying to herd something that isn’t go to move. And no they didn’t have chickens, the dog was actually trying to herd a building.

    Your are right too, we do castrate so I stand corrected on that point.

  26. trucorgi says:

    BCs are amazing animals. I am in awe everytime I watch them work stock. So focused. Unless you are an active person that wants to channel that in a positive way like agility, you really shouldn’t have one. We have cows behind us and I have a corgi that herds them through the fence. You should see them move. She is very pround of herself when she moves them too. My point is that just because they may not do what they were developed to do on a daily basis, it’s nice to know that they can and will.

  27. Michelle says:

    My neighbor has, Lucky, a beautiful solid black female cat that is de-clawed. She was let outside by accident and was missing for 5 days. When we finally found her she was all chewed up and infected. She spent almost 2 weeks in the vet hospital. Lucky, made it and is doing fine now. However, this is the reason that one should not have a cat de-clawed. They can’t defend themselves if the get out by accident. Maybe they will stop this cruel act nationwide.

  28. AnimalBlawg -- Ordinance banning declawing upheld says:

    […] the “news” was well covered, the legal issues weren’t; here is my legal analysis. (text of the […]


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