SF Scratches Out Cat Declawing

Majority vote is cats' meow

Ruth, Flickr

Cats came out victorious in the battle to ban the practice of declawing in San Francisco.

A majority of the City's Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to outlaw the procedure, calling it cruel and barbaric.

And who could disagree? Advocates of the ban liken the procedure to chopping off the fingertips of a human hand.

The ban means cats won't be undergoing the surgical procedure to remove their claws or tendons that allow them to extend them unless there's some medical reason for it.

San Francisco joins the ranks of 20 countries, including most of Europe, Brazil, Japan and Israel in banning declawing. 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 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.

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