PhotoShould you declaw your cat? New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal says no, unless there is a compelling medical reason. She is so adamant about it she has introduced legislation to ban the feline procedure.

"It's like taking off your first knuckle," Rosenthal told the New York Daily News. "Cats are born with claws and they are meant to have claws. It's cruel to remove them for the sake of human convenience and saving your furniture."

The ASPCA goes into greater detail describing the procedure: “The standard declawing procedure calls for the removal of the claw, and the last bone of the toe. The operation is usually performed on the front feet. It is actually an amputation comparable to the removal of the fingers of the human hand at the last knuckle. The cat experiences considerable pain in the recovery and healing process.”

Once a cat is declawed it can't go outside because it can no longer defend itself. How else can it escape from danger? Even if you keep the cat indoors for its whole life it can still have issues not being able to grasp onto things, which means that it could fall and be injured. Also, the cat will gradually lose its balance and motor control, because the muscles will start to weaken.

There aren't any conclusive studies on behavior of declawed cats but veterinarians and owners say they have seen personality changes in declawed cats.

Rosenthal's bill, which hasn't made it to the state senate yet, has a few backers that carry some weight. The Humane Society of New York and the Paw Project, a California-based group dedicated to stopping cat declawing. If it does go through and is enacted, New York would be the first state to ban cat declawing.

The American Veterinary Medical Association agrees but not wholeheartedly. It said the procedure should be a last resort, but shouldn't be banned. The AVMA said declawing may be appropriate if a cat is using its claws destructively or if there is some type of health risk for the owner.

Rosenthal has been an animal advocate and introduced many bills protecting the rights of animals, including one that stopped the tattooing or piercing of pets. She was also behind the city having special powers to shut down puppy mills and was instrumental in making the “rescue cat” New York’s official cat.

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