By Denis Slattery
Felines in the Empire State no longer have to live in fear of cold-hearted owners who care more about their couch than their cat.
State legislators passed a bill Tuesday that would make New York the first state in the nation to ban the declawing of cats.
"This is a barbaric and heinous operation done on cats because their owners value their furniture more than their cats and for their own convenience they want the cats declawed," said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), the bill's sponsor.
Cat declawing involves surgically removing the tendons, nerves and bones at the tip of a tabby's toes.
A 2017 study by the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery found that the process often results in long-term problems for the feline, including back problems, issues with not using the litter box properly and an increase in aggressive behavior.
Rosenthal called the practice a-paw-ling.
"It's part of a cat's nature to use their claws, to scratch, to stretch, to express themselves, defend themselves and to deprive them of that is inhumane," she said.
A spokesman for Gov. Cuomo said the administration will review the bill.
While some cities and counties across the country, including Denver and Los Angeles have outlawed the procedure, New York would become the first state to do so.
Under the bill, people who violate the ban on declawing a cat could face fines of $1,000. Veterinarians could still perform the procedure for medical reasons, such as infection or injury.
The state Veterinary Medical Society opposed the bill.
The group argues that the practice should remain legal as a last resort for cats that won't stop scratching furniture or humans -- or when the cat's owner has a weakened immune system, putting them at greater risk of infection from a scratch.
"Medical decisions should be left to the sound discretion of fully trained, licensed and state supervised professionals," the society wrote in a memo opposing the legislation.
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