Ban Declawing of Cats in Montgomery County Maryland
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Dear Montgomery County Councilmembers,
It is time to ban declawing of cats in Montgomery County. Declawing is an inhumane and unnecessary procedure that frequently has complications and causes life-long pain. Declawing is almost exclusively preformed on cats solely for benefit of the owner. Declawing is a major amputation of the last joint in each digit of a cat’s paw, compromising the cat’s ability to engage in daily activities since cats naturally walk on their toes. Additionally, declawing leads to unwanted behaviors like biting and litter box avoidance. With the high percentages of complications and behavioral changes that occur as a result of this unnecessary procedure, we believe that a ban is necessary, except in cases that are medically necessary for the cat (i.e. bone cancer in the paw). Also, there are many effective non-invasive alternatives to declawing surgery available.
Declawing is a highly invasive procedure. Not only is the joint amputated, but tendons and nerves are severed when this procedure is preformed. If you were to preform an amputation of this manner on a human hand, the final joints on the fingers would be removed, causing the person to have limited mobility and use of their hands. For cats, which walk on their toes, the impact of declawing is extreme. The removal of the last joint limits the cat’s mobility and causes excruciating pain when the cat attempts to walk after the surgery. The negative impacts come from both traditional and laser surgery.
The claws are a cat’s primary means of self-defense. When this is taken from cats, they must shift to their secondary option for self-defense, biting. Biting causes more serious injuries than scratching because of the higher infection rate. Another major behavioral issue that develops as a result of declawing is avoidance of litter boxes. Cats avoid the litter after declawing because of the discomfort of the litter against their mutilated paws. These adverse behaviors often result in relinquishment of the cat.
As we become a more aware of the complications and negative impacts of declawing on cats, more and more veterinarians and animal welfare groups have come out against declawing. These groups include, The Humane Society of the United States, The Humane Society Veterinarian Medical Association, The Paw Project, The American Association of Feline Practitioners, The American Animal Hospital Association, The Canadian Veterinary Association, and many more. Along with these major veterinary groups, many shelters and rescue groups work to limit declawing because it increases relinquishment rates. Even our very own Montgomery County Adoption Center explicitly prohibits declawing of their cats in its adoption contract terms. Declawing is inhumane and cat groups report that re-homing relinquished declawed cats is much more difficult than non-declawed cats because of the unwanted behavioral issues like biting and litter box avoidance.
Many countries, including Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, and Portugal, ban the of declawing cats. In the US, several California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have passed bans. These bans have been implemented with great success and at little cost.
Some veterinarians falsely claim there is justification for declawing even in cases not medically necessary for the cat. They inaccurately assert that human health and potential relinquishment of a cat as reasons to maintain the practice of declawing cats. These arguments have been debunked. Both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health guidance documents for immune-compromised patients, including those with HIV and AIDS, state clearly “declawing is not advised.” Some veterinarians claim cats will be relinquished if the owners cannot declaw. The potential relinquishment of a cat never justifies mutilation. Also, there is no evidence that pet owners will relinquish their cats if they cannot declaw. In fact, since the laws were passed in California, every single city with the ban had a decrease in the number of relinquishments, with an overall decrease of relinquishments by 43.3%.
We must speak for those who have no voice. It is time to pass a ban on the cruel and inhumane practice of declawing of cats in Montgomery County Maryland.
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