EXCITING NEWS from Beacon Hill! Today, the Massachusetts State Senate passed An Act prohibiting inhumane feline declawing (S. 2552).
This bill, sponsored by Senator Mark Montigny, prohibits inhumane feline declawing, a procedure usually involving the removal of the claws and the first bone of the toes of a cat’s front feet, and sometimes also the hind feet. The equivalent operation would involve amputating a person’s fingertips at the first knuckle. This bill makes exemptions for procedures when there is a therapeutic need, such as removing a cancerous tumor from the nail bed.
Kara Holmquist, Director of Advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell, said “We thank the Senate for advancing this bill and again demonstrating their commitment to animal protection. Our animal hospital, Angell Animal Medical Center, has not performed declawing surgery for decades because it is not in the interest of the animal, often involves painful complications, and can create lifelong behavior problems. We are grateful that this unnecessary amputation will be prohibited in the state.”
Thank you to sponsor State Senator Mark Montigny, Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, and Senate President Karen E. Spilka for you continued advocacy for animals in the Commonwealth. This bill now moves to the MA House of Representatives.
Cat declawing frequently causes serious pain and behavioral concerns. In addition to the pain of recovery and healing, one-in-two declawed cats experience immediate post-surgical complications. Other complications include infection, tissue necrosis, nerve damage, lameness, and arthritis. Ongoing pain caused by declawing can also lead to behavioral issues, often so severe that families choose to surrender their cat. Declawed cats are four times more likely to bite and seven times more likely to develop inappropriate litter box habits.
A growing number of veterinarians across the Commonwealth and the country refuse to declaw cats on ethical grounds, citing that it is an invasive surgery performed for a person’s convenience and not a cat’s wellbeing. Despite this shift, it is estimated that one in four veterinarians offer or will perform the surgery.
Alternatives to declawing to resolve unwanted scratching behaviors include encouraging a cat to use scratching posts by rewarding scratching in the right place with treats and applying double-sided sticky tape to furniture and using citrus or pheromone spray. Owners can also help unwanted scratching by keeping their cat’s nails trimmed.
In 2019, New York became the first state to ban declawing, followed by Maryland and Washington DC in 2022.
The bill is supported by the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Paw Project.