Banning the Declawing of Cats (Pennsylvania)

H.B. 508

This bill would ban cat declawing procedures, except for therapeutic purposes.

Updated

October 20, 2023

Work Type

Legislation

Status

Active

The Animal Legal Defense Fund supports these bills.

Sponsors: Rep. Liz Hanbidge (D-61)
Introduction Date: March 17, 2023

This bill, H.B. 508, would prohibit 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.

Declawing is an invasive surgical operation in which the last bone of each toe is amputated, similar to severing a human finger at the last knuckle. The procedure is commonly performed for human convenience – often to protect furniture – rather than for the cat’s well-being. The procedure causes significant post-surgical pain and leads to a cat’s inability to scratch, eliminating a critical natural behavior. This can cause lifelong physical problems and lead to behavioral issues, such as biting and aggression, which the cat may resort to because they have been stripped of their primary defense mechanism.

Similar legislation has passed in New York and Maryland, as well as many large cities that have jurisdictional bans such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Madison, West Hollywood, Austin, Denver, Beverly Hills, and Berkeley. In Pennsylvania, communities such as Allentown, Easton, Etna, and Pittsburgh have successfully passed local laws to prohibit declaw procedures.

Why is this law important? If enacted, this legislation would protect countless cats in Pennsylvania from being subjected to a painful and unnecessary surgical procedure, while still allowing declawing in the rare cases when it is necessary for the health of the cat, such as in the treatment of cancer of the nail bed.

Coalition Support: The Humane Society of the United States, Paw Project

For more information about animal protection legislation in Pennsylvania and opportunities to take action for animals, visit aldf.org/pennsylvania.

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