Texas is considering a bill, HB 1348, that would prohibit local governments from outlawing cat declawing in their cities and counties. Alley Cat Allies testified against this dangerous measure and we’re rallying advocates in Texas to join us.

Read our letter of testimony to Texas lawmakers below.

March 7, 2023

As a representative of Alley Cat Allies, with our more than 59,000 supporters in Texas, I am writing to express my strong opposition to HB 1348: Authority of a Municipality to Regulate Veterinarians, and I urge legislators to vote NO on this bill. If enacted into law, this bill will prohibit local governments from outlawing cat declawing in their cities and counties. Austin has already enacted a declawing ban, and that lifesaving law, and any future local declawing ban in Texas, would be prohibited by this bill.

Alley Cat Allies was first established in 1990 and is the leader of the global movement to protect and improve the lives of cats and kittens. We work with lawmakers, shelters, and the public toward lifesaving humane, nonlethal, effective laws and policies that serve the best interests of cats and the communities in which they live.

The people and local government in Austin have chosen to exercise their right to eliminate this cruel procedure in their community. That choice should not be taken away from them, nor should the option for other communities to make the same decision. Declawing, also known as onychectomy, is the surgical amputation of a cats’ toes that is virtually always performed for nontherapeutic purposes. A common but misguided motivation for declawing is to prevent cats from scratching furniture. Many opponents to declawing bans claim that more cats will be relinquished to shelters by frustrated owners, or never find homes at all, if declaw surgery is no longer permitted.

This has not proven to be the case. After the City of Los Angeles banned declawing in 2009, the number of cats being relinquished to shelters decreased by 43 percent. Similarly, a peer-reviewed study on the impact from British Columbia’s 2018 ban on declawing concluded that “legislation banning elective onychectomy does not increase the risk of feline shelter relinquishment – for destructive behavior or overall – and is unlikely to have a significant effect on shelter euthanasia or length of stay.”

The facts demonstrate that declawing itself causes the very behaviors that lead people to relinquish cats. A declawed cat is more likely to exhibit increased aggression and biting to compensate for losing her protective claws, her first line of defense. Declawing also leads to chronic pain, arthritis, balance issues, and back problems. The residual pain associated with declawing also can result in refusal to use the litter box. Biting, aggression, expensive medical issues, and litter box avoidance are among the most common reasons cats lose their homes and are brought to shelters.

Thanks to years of humane education and outreach by Alley Cat Allies and The Paw Project, Americans increasingly realize how detrimental declawing can be to a cat’s wellbeing. More have come to learn that declawing is a nontherapeutic and unnecessary surgery that is far more severe than a nail trim.

We invite animals into our homes as companions and family members. Having cats means caring for them, providing for them, and using humane solutions to solve behavioral issues. Claws are an extremely important part of a cat’s anatomy and life. Scratching posts, deterrents, regular trimming, nail caps and plenty of toys help to redirect this natural and necessary instinct.

For all of the reasons above, declawing bans are being considered and enacted in more communities every year. New York state enacted a ban in 2019, Maryland followed in 2022, and 16 major cities including Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver and Pittsburgh also prohibit this procedure. Around the world, at least 42 countries, including Switzerland, Germany, and the United Kingdom, have prohibited the declawing of cats.

Texas should not strip away the ability of its local governments to follow these examples. I respectfully request you and the members of the House Agriculture & Livestock Committee to vote NO on HB 1348 and maintain the ability of local governments to eliminate this procedure in accordance with the will of their constituents.

Coryn Julien
Director of Communications
Alley Cat Allies