An Act Prohibiting the Removal of Claws from Cats (H.B. 231), introduced in the New Hampshire legislature by prime sponsor Rep. Mike Bordes (R-Belknap 5) and co-sponsor Rep. Ellen Read (D-10), would ban the practice of declawing throughout the state.
This important bipartisan animal protection legislation would bring New Hampshire in line with modern-day veterinary science and perspectives on the humane treatment of animals. It would prohibit cat declawing — a cruel and outdated practice that is unnecessary, except in rare cases to protect a cat’s health, such as a diagnosis of cancer of the nail bed.
Declawing is a highly invasive surgery — a series of amputations of the last bones of the 10 front, and sometimes also the eight rear, toes. This procedure is similar to severing a human finger at the last knuckle. It is commonly performed for human convenience rather than for the cat’s well-being. For example, many people have their cats declawed to prevent them from scratching furniture. Besides post-surgical pain and the inability to perform natural behaviors like scratching, there are other negative implications for a cat’s well-being associated with declawing.
Scratching is a normal, healthy behavior for cats, and is not intended to be destructive. Cats scratch because it is an effective way to stretch their back muscles, relieves stress, enables cats to mark their territory, and keeps their nails in good condition.
Behavioral training and nail trimming are humane ways to reduce the unwanted effects of scratching. There are extensive online resources about training cats to use a scratching post or similar item instead of furniture.
If H.B. 231 is enacted, New Hampshire will become the third U.S. state to prohibit the practice of declawing cats, joining New York and Maryland. Other states and the District of Columbia have proposed similar legislation in 2023. Numerous U.S. cities, Canadian provinces, and more than 20 countries around the world have already banned cat declawing.
On February 28, 2023, H.B. 231 received a tie vote in the House Environment and Agriculture Committee, resulting in the bill being sent to the House floor to be voted on soon with “no recommendation.” On March 16, 2023, the bill passed in the House (225-147). The New Hampshire legislative session ended before the bill could advance further.
To find more information about animal-friendly legislation in New Hampshire, visit aldf.org/newhampshire.