Cat Declawing Ban in Denver Would Be the First Outside California

Cats have been dependent on their claws since they were created. Although many people still believe in declawing cats, especially when they are indoor cats, due to the desire to preserve their best furniture, the sworn enemy of cat’s claws, may soon not have a choice but to find another avenue of protecting their favorite furniture pieces.

A City Council member in the state proposed a bill that would end cat declawing, declaring it unlawful. The bill states that the procedure is painful and unnecessary for felines. It is planned to be presented for the very first time during a public hearing that will be on Wednesday. If the bill passes on the 13th of November, then Denver will be the very first state, outside of the state of California, to have this law on the books.

Those who support the bill have said that declawing a cat is similar to that of an amputation in that it not only just removes the scythelike claws that extend from the paw, but it requires the removal of parts of the cat’s bones that are in the paw itself.

A veterinarian and the director of Paw Project, a nonprofit group based in Colorado, Aubrey J. Lavizzo, said that it is cruel to do this to cats. He went on to say that it is actually animal cruelty, and that is why this is an issue. He will be speaking in support of the bill, which was sponsored by Councilwoman Kendra Black, on Wednesday,

There is controversy about the procedure, and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association is one of several that supports the procedure. They have said that the removal of cats’ claws should continue to be an option, especially if a cat’s scratching is such a problem, that it could be the deciding factor in which an owner is considering giving a cat up for adoption due to the problematic claw scratching.

Gina Nations, who works at a veterinary center in New York, has said that a client of their practice, had a client who was in her 80’s. Her cat would scratch her while playing with her on a regular basis, and she requested the procedure to be done on the cat’s front paws.

In the year 2003, West Hollywood, CA was the first the pass legislation on banning cat clawing. The bill was described as falling into the same line as another bill that was past in years previous, that stated that people were not really pet owners, they were “guardians” of pets who operate under moral obligations.

Later, in 2009, other cities in California followed similar suits and adopted the same law. These cities include, Culver City, Burbank, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

In other States, like New Jersey and New York, specifically, there are similar bills that are in the prospects of being proposed in state legislature later this year, where veterinarians are trying to get legislature to declare that the decision should be left up to the pet’s owners and the medical professionals as to whether or not they should declaw a cat.

Despite the two differences of opinions, the issue goes above and beyond whether an owner of a cat can cuddle with the cat or avoid their furniture being shredded by the cat’s claws. It has had to resort to the federal policymaking of laws due to the fact that the number of cats in households has been increasing over the past recent decades, primarily in the housing and health sectors. In 2016, the number of cats in homes was about 47 million.

In a letter to directors of the public housing agencies, sent on September 29, it was declared that as a matter of public policy, to declaw a cat was “considered inhumane and no longer recommended by veterinarians.” And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also made their opinion and recommendation known. In a study that was done a year ago regarding the public health effects of  “cat scratch disease,” which is a bacterial infection that is carried by fleas and transmitted to humans through scratches and sometimes, a cat’s bite, (mostly effecting children), the agency said that the best way to prevent it is to wash hands often and maintain better flea control rather than remove a cat’s claws.

There remains arguments against the ban, with concerns being given to those in the home of a cat that it should be up to the pet owners whether or not they should declaw their cat, especially if someone in the home is living with a medical problem that could be made worse or would effected by a cat scratch. Councilwoman Black told Fox 31 in Denver on Monday, that she would give a medical exemption in the bill, just for that purpose.

The name of the procedure that removes a cat’s claws, is called an onychectomy, and it requires the removal of a piece of bone in the cat’s toe, in which the claw is attached and embedded into. The procedure is not only painful, but there are often complications with it. Pieces of the bone can stay in the cat’s paw, and because most of the cat’s weight is put on the front two paws, nerves and blood vessels, along with cut tendons, are the reasons whey the paws can’t be used in a normal fashion anymore.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners, which is an advocacy group of veterinary cat care professionals, said that it is strongly opposed to the declawing of cats. The group then went on to outline a number of other options that Vets can give cat owners to do instead. Scratching posts are one idea, trimming the claws regularly, and synthetic nail caps, are also options. There are also pheromone sprays that help to relieve feline anxiety, which can increase a cat’s need to scratch.

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