An Act concerning the surgical declawing of cats and other animals (New Jersey)


This bill would prohibit the surgical declawing of cats and other animals in New Jersey, except in rare cases of medical necessity for the cat.


June 20, 2023

Work Type




The Animal Legal Defense Fund supports this bill.

Sponsors: State Sens. Troy Singleton (D-7) and Vin Gopal (D-11); State Assemblymembers Carol Murphy (D-7) and Raj Mukherji (D-33)
Introduced: February 14, 2022

Declawing is an invasive surgical procedure in which the last bone in each of a cat’s toes is amputated — similar to severing a human finger at the last knuckle. The procedure is commonly performed for the convenience of a cat’s guardian, rather than for the cat’s own medical needs or well-being.

This legislation, S.1803/A.2578, would:

  • prohibit declaw procedures in New Jersey, unless deemed necessary for a therapeutic purpose by a licensed veterinarian.

Similar legislation has been enacted in New York and Maryland, and multiple other U.S. states and the District of Columbia have proposed declaw bans that have not yet become law. Many U.S. cities have enacted jurisdictional bans, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Austin, Pittsburgh, Madison, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Berkeley.

Why is this legislation important? Declawing can have lifelong medical implications for cats and prevents them from performing their natural behaviors. Declawed cats are at risk of experiencing paw pain, lameness, infection, dead tissue, nerve damage, bone spurs, back pain, and more. Since declawing inhibits a cat’s normal means of movement and defense, behavioral impacts can also result. Humane options exist for addressing the unwanted effects of scratching, such as behavioral training, nail trimming, and providing scratching pads or posts for the cat.

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