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Health, Science and Environment

New legislation would ban cat declawing unless it is deemed medically necessary

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New legislation in the state house would ban cat declawing except in instances where it is deemed medically necessary.

Supporters of the legislation say the practice is cruel and harmful to cats.

Bill sponsor, Democratic State Representative Nate Shannon said the procedure is the equivalent of cutting off a persons finger at the first knuckle.

“It’s a pretty inhumane practice that is just not medically necessary,” he said.

Angela Miedema is the Executive Director of the Humane Animal Treatment Society in Mount Pleasant. She said the procedure removes the toes of cats - which they need in order to walk and jump.

“It’s really not for the cat. It doesn’t benefit the cat whatsoever,” she said. “We’re really at the point where we are saying are we putting furniture, are we putting things, above a living animal's wellbeing.”

Miedema said she tries to educate people about alternatives to declawing.

“It’s not something we want people jumping to - an amputation of their toes. There are a lot of other options out there right now that we try to educate people on. They have gel caps now that you can actually put over your cats claws.”

The legislation would still allow veterinarians to make a decision about whether the procedure might be medically necessary.

Anyone found declawing cats could be subject to a civil fine of up to $1,000.

The American Veterinary Medical Association discourages the practice, but leaves the ultimate judgement on whether to perform the procedure up to vets.

Michigan would be the second state to ban the procedure behind New York.