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CP Photo: Kimberly Rooney Gao Xiaorong
Toaster gets its claws clipped every few weeks.
Anyone who cuddles with a cat knows how moody it can be. One moment harmless bean beans, the next claws. While cats’ nails can be painful, cat declawing causes pain and other behavior and health problems, and a new law could ban the act in the city of Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh City Councilor Bobby Wilson (D-North Side) presented the 1877 bill to the September 14th city council, where it was read and referred to the Public Security Committee. The bill, if passed, will amend Title Six, Article III, Chapter 633 of the Pittsburgh Code, which broadly deals with dogs and cats, to prohibit cat declawing. The act would result in a fine of up to $ 500 per violation.
“The city of Pittsburgh should set an example as a humane city, both in southwest Pennsylvania and throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Wilson said in a press release. “The way we treat animals corresponds to our deepest values.”
The bill, endorsed by councilors Bruce Kraus (D-South Side) and Anthony Coghill (D-Beechview), presents several reasons why cat declawing is both inhuman and potentially dangerous to cats and the people who are with them live together is.
“Declawing a cat is not just about removing its nails. Instead, it means amputating the last bone on each cat’s toe. If this happened to a person, it would be like cutting off every finger and toe on the last knuckle, ”said Wilson. “This is a cruel and inhumane practice that will cause our cats a lifetime of pain and discomfort.”
The bill also points out behavior problems in cats that have had their claws removed, such as increased biting and litter box aversion, as well as the dangers for decalculated free-range cats, as they can no longer defend themselves adequately.
If behavior problems lead people to abandon their cats, the bill states that it would deplete the resources of the local animal shelter system, animal care and control, community cat rescue and return to field programs. The bill also says that clawless cats tend to be less adoptable due to behavioral issues, which can lead to euthanasia and, in turn, cause compassionate fatigue among shelter workers.
Key health agencies that have advised against declawing cats for human protection, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the US Public Health Services, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, are cited in the bill. The American Veterinary Medical Association, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, and the American Association of Feline Practitioners also oppose declawing cats as an electoral process.
The declawing ban also has a precedent in New York state, St. Louis County, Missouri, and many U.S. cities including Austin, Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Countries in Europe, South America and Oceania have also banned cats from declawing their claws. All veterinary clinics operated by Mars Veterinary Health no longer offer elective declawing on site.
The law provides alternatives to declawing for cat owners who are concerned about cats scratching furniture, other property, and owners. Regularly trimming your nails, scratching posts, deterrent pheromone spray, covering furniture, and using plastic nail covers are all alternatives that don’t require severing cat bones, nerves, joint capsules, and collateral ligaments. These alternatives also allow cats to maintain their means of movement and defense, as well as normal posture and use of the toes.
“We can do better,” said Wilson. “My bill puts the City of Pittsburgh on a path to humanely treating our cats.”