New York lawmakers have passed a bill that would ban declawing cats in the state.
According to The Associated Press, declawing "involves amputating a cat's toes back to the first knuckle." The legislation, sponsored by state Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal, proposes outlawing the surgeries "except when necessary for a therapeutic purpose" for treating an illness, infection or other medical condition. Veterinarians who break the law could be fined up to $1,000.
On Tuesday, the state Assembly voted 92-27 in favor of the bill, which passed the Senate 50-12, the AP reported. Gov. Andrew Cuomo would need to sign the legislation for it to become law.
"New York State now stands poised to be the first state in the nation to take this giant leap for cat-kind," Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday. "Declaw is a brutal practice, long normalized, that involves the amputation of a cat's first toe bones, along with the tendons and muscles. Declaw leads to a lifetime of pain and discomfort for a cat, all in the name of protecting a cat owner’s furniture. Today though, every cat and kitten in New York State lands on its feet as we prepare to make New York the most humane, paw-some state for cats in the United States."
Although no other U.S. states have adopted a declawing ban, several cities and 39 countries have outlawed the practice, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.
The Humane Society of the United States' New York director, Brian Shapiro, praised the state's legislation and called declawing "a convenience surgery with a very high complication rate that offers no benefit to the cat," The New York Times reported.
But the move faced some opposition, as well.
"Medical decisions should be left to the sound discretion of fully trained, licensed and state-supervised professionals," The New York State Veterinary Medical Society wrote in a memo, according to the AP.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.