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In December 2021, the Madison Common Council voted unanimously to ban the cruel practice of elective cat declawing (removing the last bone of each of the cat’s toes to prevent unwelcomed scratchings of furniture). This major city in Wisconsin now joins the state of New York and the cities of Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco, among others, which have already banned the declawing of cats (also known as onychectomy).

The ordinance approved specifically created Section 23.66 of the Madison General Ordinances “to prohibit removing or disabling a cat’s claws by performing a declawing procedure.”

Madison Alder Lindsay Lemmer, who sponsored the proposal, said to WMTV“Today, every cat in Madison lands on its feet as we set an example for the rest of the state and join the numerous cities throughout the country that have already banned this archaic practice.” 

Elected cat declawing (as opposed to declawing required for medical reasons), in addition to being an unnecessary painful amputation that violates the body autonomy of cats, may cause the cats to become more aggressive and more likely to bite, as they have lost some of their more effective “warnings” when they feel intimidated or scared. It would be like removing the vocal cords of a human, who may then need to become more physical to get a warning across. It also deprives the cats of their natural way to explore their environment and to learn social skills during play.

In early 1990, many European countries signed a treaty forbidding the practice, but it has become common in the US. A 2011 AP poll found that 55% of US cat owners said it was OK to declaw their cats. It would be inconceivable for many vegans to prioritise the aesthetics of furniture over the wellbeing of a sentient being. But, unfortunately, many non-vegans who still think of companion animals as “pets” they own feel they can reshape any of their animals at will, as they can mow their lawns.