Cat Declaw Bill (Rhode Island)

S.B. 403/H.B. 6508

This bill would ban cat declawing in Rhode Island, with an exemption for situations in which the procedure is necessary for a legitimate medical purpose for the well-being of the cat.


July 3, 2023

Work Type




During the 2023 legislative session, S.B. 403 passed the Senate. We look forward to supporting and advancing this and other animal protection measures in 2024.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund supports this bill.

Sponsors: State Sens. Melissa Murray (D-24), Dawn Euer (D-13), Bridget Valverde (D-35), Pamela Lauria (D-32), Frank Lombardi (D-26), Robert Britto (D-18), Alana DiMario (D-36), Meghan Kallman (D-15), and Thomas Paolino (R-17); Representatives William O’Brien (D-54), Scott Slater (D-10), Matt Dawson (D-65), Katherine Kazarian (D-63), Robert Craven (D-32), Justine Caldwell (D-30), and Charlene Lima (D-14)
Introduction Date: February 16, 2023

The Cat Declaw Bill, An Act Relating to Animals and Animal Husbandry — Cruelty to Animals (S.B. 403/H.B. 6508), would prohibit cat declawing in Rhode Island, except in rare cases when the procedure is performed for a legitimate therapeutic purpose for the well-being of the cat.

Declawing is an invasive surgical procedure in which the last bone of a cat’s toes is amputated — 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 such as scratching, there are other negative implications for well-being associated with declawing. The procedure 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.

New York and Maryland are the first U.S. states to ban declawing cats. Many large cities have jurisdictional bans, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Madison, West Hollywood, Austin, Denver, Beverly Hills, and Berkeley.

Why is this law important? If enacted, this legislation would protect countless cats in Rhode Island 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 Paw Project, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, Alley Cat Allies

For more information about animal protection legislation in Rhode Island and opportunities to take action for animals, visit

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