Lawmakers in New Jersey are considering a bill that would make declawing cats illegal.
If passed, the bill, A3899, would make declawing a cat a criminal animal cruelty charge unless it was deemed medically necessary. It would also make New Jersey the first state in the United States that bans veterinarians from declawing cats, according to NJ.com. Under the law, a veterinarian could face a $1,000 fine or six months in jail, and violators could face a $500 to $2,000 penalty.
New York tried proposing a similar bill last year, but it died. Several cities in California already have a similar ban in place.
The procedure is usually done per the owner's request to prevent their cats from scratching, especially when it comes to furniture. But the bill's sponsor, Democratic Assemblyman Troy Singleton, and many supporters say declawing a cat is "barbaric."
"More often than not (it's) done for the sake of convenience rather than necessity," Singleton said in a statement.
Spokespeople with the American Veterinary Association told the Associated Press that the operation isn't barbaric. Many vets say with today's techniques, they can remove a cat's claws in a way that the pain they experience is similar to cutting one's fingernails, per Pet WebMD.
In most cases, however, they say declawing is unnecessary because owners can train their cats to scratch on posts rather than furniture, or even trim their nails.
Opponents of the bill also argue that they worry a declawing ban would result in higher cat populations in pet shelters.
The measure has been approved by the Assembly and is headed to the state Senate for review.