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Michigan lawmakers introduce bill to ban cat declawing

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Michigan could follow New York and ban declawing cats, becoming the second U.S. state to do so.

House Bill No. 5508 was introduced on Thursday by State Rep. Nate Shannon, D-Sterling Heights, and 20 other Michigan legislators and referred to the Committee on Agriculture. The bill would prohibit the act of declawing cats unless it's for a therapeutic reason.

A black and white female cat peek through the bars as a volunteer cleans cages in the room at the Detroit Animal Care and Control facility in Detroit, Michigan on October 25, 2016.

Bills to ban declawing are pending in several states including New Jersey, California and Massachusetts. Declawing a cat is illegal in Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco joining most of Europe and several Canadian provinces.

HB 5508 states: An individual shall not perform by any means an onychectomy, a partial or complete phalangectomy, or a tendonectomy procedure, or any other surgical procedure that prevents normal functioning of the claws, on a cat in this state, unless the procedure is necessary for a therapeutic purpose.

Therapeutic purpose for declawing a cat would address a physical medical condition of the animal, including treating an illness, infection or injury. If passed, anyone who violates this law could be fined up to $1,000.

The Humane Society of the United States says declawing a cat is far worse than a manicure.

"Declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe," the society said. "If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle."

A young cat named Bippity reaches up towards his buddy, Boo, at the Dresner Foundation Adoption Center at the Michigan Humane Society Detroit Animal Care Campus in Detroit on June 13, 2016.

The society says people don't realize that declawing can make a cat less likely to use the litter box or more likely to bite. 

"It is an unnecessary surgery that provides no medical benefit to the cat. Educated pet parents can easily train their cats to use their claws in a manner that allows everyone in the household to live together happily."

There are medical drawbacks to declawing including paw pain, infection, tissue necrosis, lameness and back pain. Removing claws changes the way a cat's foot meets the ground and can cause pain similar to wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes. There can also be a regrowth of improperly removed claws, nerve damage, and bone spurs, according to the society.

The National and Michigan Humane Society strongly opposes the declawing of cats unless it’s for a medical reason.

View all of the cats and kittens available to adopt at the Michigan Humane Society.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_