Bill introduced to ban declawing cats in Michigan


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WZZM) — Michigan lawmakers have introduced a bill to ban declawing cats. If it passes, Michigan would become the second state to do so, after New York banned the procedure last year.

The bill would prohibit declawing a cat unless it is deemed necessary for a therapeutic purpose.

“Unlike spay or neuter,” said Namiko Ota-Noveskey, the program supervisor for Kent County Animal Shelter, “there is no health benefit for the cats. It’s more for convenience for the people.”

Advertisement - Story continues below

Kent County Animal Shelter does not declaw their cats. They also do not encourage adoptive cat parents to do so after they leave the shelter.

“The surgery itself is almost like taking the first knuckle off,” said Ota-Noveskey, “it’s not like we’re just trimming nails. With declawing, they’re taking the first digit off. So, I think it’s really important we look at alternatives.”

The bill was co-sponsored by state Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming).

“Other states and countries do it,” said Brann, “New York banned them, New Zealand, Japan, Australia. Whole countries have banned this, so it seems a little traumatic and cruel.”

Brann says he hopes the bill can get a committee hearing, so it can move forward. He has three cats himself, one named BK.

“We love BK, and we protect BK,” said Brann. "But we don’t want him to get out there. If something happened, door open, I don’t want him out there unprotected. Claws are part of their protection.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association also recently changed its recommendation about declawing. It now says it discourages the procedures, but defers to veterinarians on each case. Since 2014, their stance was declawing should be a last resort.

The proposed bill calls for a civil fine of not more than $1,000 for those who violate and declaw a cat.

Ota-Noveskey recommends trimming the cat’s nails so they aren’t too sharp, and to buy it a scratching post or mat.