Singleton Bill to Ban Declawing of Cats Clears Committee

Troy Singleton

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton that would prohibit surgically declawing cats and other animals cleared the Senate Economic Growth Committee today.

“Declawing a cat is a cruel practice that more often than not is done for the sake of convenience rather than necessity,” said Senator Troy Singleton (D-Burlington).  “Nationwide, cities have enacted laws to prohibit this inhumane procedure, and it is time for the State of New Jersey to lead the nation by putting an end to it once and for all.”

The bill, S-1209, would prohibit a person from performing a declawing procedure by any means on a cat or other animal, unless the procedure is deemed necessary by a licensed veterinarian. The bill includes the requirement that any person who violates this provision would be guilty of a disorderly person’s offense, which is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a term of imprisonment of up to six months, or both. A violator would also be subject to a civil penalty of between $500 and $2,000.

Therapeutic purposes for declawing allowed by the bill would include an existing or recurring illness, infection, disease, injury, or abnormal condition in a claw that compromises the animal’s health.  The bill would not permit declawing for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons or reasons of convenience in keeping or handling the animal.

Under the bill, whenever a licensed veterinarian determines that a procedure is necessary for a therapeutic purpose, the veterinarian would be required to file a written statement with the Department of Health, and provide a copy of that statement to the owner or keeper of the animal. A veterinarian who fails to comply with this provision would be subject to disciplinary action by the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

Declawing is seen by many as a quick fix for unwanted scratching by cats. However, these invasive procedures are, in most instances, medically unnecessary, and can cause lasting physical problems and other consequences for cats.

The cities in the United States that have banned declawing cats and other animals include Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 3-2, and next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriation Committee for further consideration.