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It is now illegal to declaw a cat in the US state of Maryland, becoming the second state to ban the procedure after New York did it in 2019. The new law, the bill of which was passed by the state’s Senate last February and by the House of Representatives on the 10th of March 2022, has now been enacted after Gov. Larry Hogan has signed it. It prohibits any veterinary practitioners from performing declawing procedures on a cat unless the procedure is “necessary for a therapeutic purpose.”

Declawing (also known as onychectomy) is an inhumane practice that involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe, equivalent to removing a human’s fingers at the last knuckle. 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.

Becky Robinson from Alley Cat Allies, say “The cats can feel pain for a long time, for the rest of their lives, and they end up having these other behaviours, they stop using the litter box, and unfortunately a lot of people end up relinquishing declawed cats to animal shelters.” The American Veterinary Medical Association, a not-for-profit organization states on its website that it “discourages declawing as an elective procedure and supports non-surgical alternatives.” In December 2021, the Madison Common Council also voted to ban elective cat declawing. The cities of Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco, among others, have done the same. In early 1990, many European countries signed a treaty forbidding the practice.