ALLENTOWN, PA — Declawing cats is now illegal in the city of Allentown. If you have a cat, you may already be thinking strongly about what experts call a painful procedure, or maybe you don’t know why it’s so important.
“I don’t think a lot of vets enjoy doing the procedure for clients. Our vet certainly doesn’t,” said Hal Warner, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Humane Society.
The ordinance initiated by Warner, which prohibits the declawing of cats, was adopted on Wednesday.
“I like cats !” said Jackie Folsom.
Folsom works at the Lehigh Valley Humane Society as Director of Development.
“I have three cats and a foster kitten at home right now,” she said.
As a cat mom, Folsom says she’s against declawing.
“They cut off the cat’s fingers in order to remove the front claws,” she said.
An Allentown vet, who called the procedure inhumane and “old school,” told 69 News it’s like amputating your fingertips.
“And it’s done 10 times on a cat,” Warner said. “So you’re basically cutting off, you know, the cat’s joint on every appendage it has.”
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “declawing may be an alternative to abandonment, open-air housing, or euthanasia.”
But he also describes declawing as a “painful procedure”.
And there is some data to suggest behavioral problems related to declawing may lead to more cats being abandoned.
Allentown is only the second city in Pennsylvania to ban declawing, after Pittsburgh, but Warner says he hopes the movement will become widespread.
“We hope to work next with Whitehall, Bethlehem and Easton,” he said. “And then, you know, expanding some of these initiatives to some of the smaller municipalities that we partner with.”
But in the meantime: what would prevent someone from traveling to a city to do the procedure?
“If you’re willing to go some distance to declaw your cat, should you even own a cat?” said Allentown City Mayor Matt Tuerk.
Allentown mayor and cat dad Tuerk worked with the Humane Society to get the ordinance passed.
“Veterinarians are responsible professionals,” he said. “They don’t want to do anything that hurts an animal.”
The ban prohibits anyone from performing the declawing service, the order states, “unless the procedure is necessary for therapeutic purposes,” that is, for a medical reason, such as an infection requiring removal of the claw.
It will come into force in 10 days.
“So we would respond to all reports,” Tuerk said. “Citizens are encouraged to report to our municipal administration if there are declawing services in progress. And then it is up to our police department to enforce the law.”
Experts say you can train your cat not to scratch, trim your cat’s nails, or have someone else do it.
“A lot of groomers do that,” Jackie Folsom said. “And some vets will do it in veterinary offices as well.”