Prohibiting Landlords from Requiring Cat Declawing (Delaware)

H.B. 386

As the law stands now in Delaware, landlords may require a tenant to declaw a cat as a condition for entering into or renewing a rental agreement. If House Bill 386 is enacted, it would prohibit landlords from imposing this requirement.


October 26, 2022

Work Type




Governor John Carney signed the bill into law on 10/26/22

Declawing is a permanent, surgical procedure in which all or part of the last bone in a cat’s toes is amputated. Also known as onychectomy, declawing is a highly invasive surgery — a series of amputations of the last bones of the 10 front toes (and sometimes the eight rear toes as well).

Because of the risk to the cat’s well-being and the behavioral issues that can result from declawing, the procedure is not fully condoned by any veterinary medical association. The American Animal Hospital Association, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, and the Association of Feline Practitioners have all stated opposition to the practice as an alternative to relinquishment, and the American Veterinary Medical Association strongly advises against it.

Current law in Delaware allows landlords to require a tenant to have their cat declawed as a condition for entering into or renewing a rental agreement. H.B. 386 would prohibit landlords from utilizing such a requirement to force a needless and painful declaw procedure on their tenants’ feline companions.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund strongly supports this bill, which was introduced by State Rep. Paul S. Baumbach (D-23). Another state bill supported by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, H.B. 333, would ban declawing throughout the state except in rare cases of veterinary necessity,  was approved by the Delaware House of Representatives in June 2022.

To find more information about animal-friendly legislation in Delaware, visit

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