Ban Declaw Bill in Illinois May be Stalled


Declaw is an awful and unnecessary amputation of cats’ claws. Many nations ban the practice, and increasingly people are catching on in the U.S. The Illinois House of Representatives voted 67 to 38 to ban declaw, led by Representative Barbara Hernandez (50th district).

Now, all takes is the Senate to pass the bill, where Sara Feigenholtz (8th district) will sponsor the bill. However, the Senate may not take up the bill for anyone to support. If you live in Illinois, let your state Senator know how you feel, today.

A part of the problem is the sheer number of Senate bills – they apparently all can’t be considered.

Also, the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association announced its opposition to the bill. “While we appreciate good intentions, this bill will jeopardize the lives of some cats and compromise veterinarians’ ability to uphold their medical oath to protect and save animals’ lives,” Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association President Dr. Joanne Carlson said in a statement.

Dr. Carlson said there is no evidence that cats who have this procedure experience any long-term difficulties.

Well, in fact there IS evidence – and lots of it – regarding long-term adverse impacts of declaw.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) says if you want to be a Cat Friendly Practice, you can’t declaw. Simply, that is because being Cat Friendly is impossible to call any practice that correspondingly declaws. Here’s a conversation with Dr. Kelly St. Dennis, past president of AAFP regarding declaw from Steve Dale’s Pet World national radio show.

AAFP isn’t alone, the over 2,000 Banfield, VCA or Blue Pearl veterinary practices all won’t declaw. And veterinary schools no longer teach how to declaw. This wouldn’t be the case if indeed there were no long term (and, for that matter, short term) effects of declaw. Fear Free is also opposed to declaw.

Lots and lots of studies (which I could offer citations) demonstrate declaw does contribute or cause various medical issues, and may contribute to behavior problems (such as cats more likely to bite or more likely to urinate outside the box) which can fracture the human-animal bond, and therefore increase the number of people who give up cats to shelters.

Illinois would be the third state, following Maryland and New York State, to ban declaw, which also several major cities have done, including Austin, TX;  Denver, CO; Madison, WI, and St. Louis, MO.

As for the medical oath, which Dr. Carlson refers, it begins with “do not harm.” It’s nearly never ever medically necessary to declaw a cat.  This amounts to an elective amputation. What person would every volunteer for that? Similarly, it’s not likely that any cat would either, so on top of everything else, declaw is a bioethical issue.

At 4 p.m. on May 18 at the Chicago Vet Veterinary Conference (at Navy Pier in Chicago), I am giving a talk, 4 p.m. Cats Are Authors: The Scratch to Communicate and New Truth About Declaw. A great deal of the talk is about behavior modification, how to teach cat parents to teach cats to scratch where we would like them to. I invite Dr. Carlson or any skeptic regarding the negative impacts of declaw to attend.