How would you like to have your fingertips chopped off so you can't use your fingernails? That's how animal advocates would the describe the declawing of a cat.
Now San Francisco is one step closer to making it illegal for cats to be declawed. An arm of the Board of Supervisors approved legislation last week that would make the practice illegal. The full board will vote on the measure today.
Declawing is against the law in 20 countries, including most of Europe, Brazil, Japan and Israel. In the United States, Norfolk, Virginia and West Hollywood have cat declawing bans. Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Berkeley and Beverly Hills may follow suit.
People who violate the ban could face up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. The cats tell us that if it was up to the them, violators would also have their fingernails pulled out.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi introduced the ban. He says cats declawed may undergo behavorial, psychological and personality changes.
The proposed ban would have to go into effect by the time a new state law does. A state bill approved by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would prohibit any city from enacting such a ban after Jan. 1, 2010.
Lawmakers in West Hollywood passed an ordinance banning cat declawing in 2003. So far, it's the only one of its kind in the state.
The California Veterinary Medical Association opposes San Francisco's proposed ban. The group says declawing should be left up to veterinarians and not politicians. It also advocates for uniform statewide laws governing veterinarian practices.
Experts say cats that have been declawed will avoid using the litter box because scratching in the litter is painful on their nubby paws. Also, since the claws are the cat's first defense, declawing robs the felines of protection.
Cats' claws also play an important role in their exercise as they grab onto a scratching post or tree trunk with their claws and stretch their limbs. The San Francisco SPCA lists a host of other important uses for cat claws.
Declawing a cat is more than just removing their nails. The procedure is actually the surgical amputation of the first joint of the cat's toes. Whether you are a cat lover or not, the practice is just plain mean.