Bill banning declawing advances

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Tips to stop unwanted scratching
If you are worried about your cat damaging your home, or want to avoid unwanted scratching, start with these tips:
Keep their claws trimmed to minimize damage to household items.
Provide stable scratching posts and boards around your home.
Offer different materials like carpet, sisal, wood, and cardboard, as well as different styles (vertical and horizontal).
Use toys and catnip to entice your cat to use the posts and boards.
Ask your veterinarian about soft plastic caps (like Soft Paws®) that are glued to the cat's nails. They need to be replaced about every six weeks.
Attach a special tape (like Sticky Paws®) to furniture to deter your cat from unwanted scratching.


Legislation to prohibit cat declawing in New Jersey has passed the Assembly by a 43-10 vote, with 12 abstentions. The bill, which was sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Troy Singleton, now heads to the state Senate's Economic Growth committee.

It would ban declawing and another procedure in which an animal keeps its claws but the tendons to its toes are severed. Declawing would be allowed for medical reasons, such as cancer of the nail bed.

Violators would be guilty of a disorderly person's offense, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a jail term of up to six months. They also could face a civil penalty of up to $2,000.

What is cat declawing?The Humane Society website describes declawing (onychectomy) as equivalent to cutting off a human's fingers at the last knuckle. Although some owners may regard this as a solution to their cat's clawing the furniture and carpets, it is cruel and inhumane and may have unwanted side effects worse than the original clawing, according to the society. It can make a cat less likely to use the litter box or more likely to bite. It is not the same as trimming a nail; it is an amputation that can also cause a cat to have lasting physical problems and may lead to infection. Removing claws changes the way a cat's foot meets the ground and can make walking painful and cause nerve damage and bone spurs.

The website describes the procedure: The amputation is done with a scalpel or guillotine clipper. The wounds are closed with stitches or surgical glue, and the feet are bandaged.

There is another problematic way to render a cat's claws useless. A tendonectomy severs the tendon that controls the claw in each toe. The cat keeps its claws, but can't control them or extend them to scratch.

Janet Laycox, a 13-year volunteer at the West Milford Animal Shelter, emphasized that declawing is amputation and added, regarding cutting the tendons, "If you cut off all the tendons, nerves will be cut too, it’s a major surgery. I think (the proposed law) is wonderful because declawing is an extremely cruel and inhumane practice."

Many countries have banned declawing, including: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, England, Scotland, Wales, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Scratching is normal behavior for cats. It's not done to destroy furniture or to get even. Cats scratch to remove dead husks from their claws, stretch their muscles and mark territory.

Cats are usually about eight weeks old when they begin scratching and that's the best time to train them to use a scratching post and allow nail trims.

West Milford Mayor Bettina Bieri, who is also health officer at West Milford's Animal Shelter, said declawing is a last resort, but she doesn't feel the government should dictate its use.

"Declawing is frequently the last resort or only remaining alternative when a family may otherwise be faced with surrendering their cats to animal shelters or even euthanasia," she said. "At that point, it becomes a moral dilemma as to what is in the best interest of both the pet and the family. I do not advocate declawing, but such a decision should be made by the family, not the government."

Bieri said few of these surgeries are performed and based on her 23 years experience with animal welfare, there are other priorities,

"I can honestly say that New Jersey faces and needs to address many more animal cruelty and neglect issues of greater severity. Sadly, so many of our companion animals regularly face inhumane treatment that is far more detrimental and far more physically/emotionally painful," she said. "Together we should focus our attention on animal welfare issues that will have a greater impact on the quality of life for our companion animals."

What do you think? Go to and tell us.

Also, go to our website for some tips to stop unwanted scratching,

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Community Newspapers


Gerald A. Shirhall
  • Nov 13, 2017


West Milford, NJ