BETHESDA, Md. Alley Cat Allies praised Maryland for banning the declawing of cats through an anti-declawing bill supported by a bi-partisan group of legislators and signed into law today by Governor Larry Hogan. The law takes effect October 1, 2022.

Delegates and senators heard from the people of Maryland and made a powerful decision that we will no longer allow cats in our state to endure this cruel, crippling procedure. Amputating the last joints from cats’ toes is excruciating, causing a lifetime of pain and unintended consequences that often lead to cats being relinquished to shelters.

Alley Cat Allies and The Paw Project, whose decades of education on the detrimental impacts of declawing inspired legislation in Maryland and many other states, also mobilized advocates in Maryland to ask their delegate and senator to take anti-declawing positions and make the practice illegal in the state of Maryland.

“This invasive and painful surgery rarely has any benefit for cats, and in fact sets them up for a lifetime of suffering and discomfort,” said Jennifer Conrad, DVM, founder/director of The Paw Project. “It is widely recognized that declawing cats does not reduce health risks for humans with health issues. Recently published studies have even shown that declawed cats are more likely to bite.”

A big part of our educational efforts is to inform officials and individuals that for cats, scratching with their claws is a very normal, instinctive, and necessary activity.

Scratching is a very natural behavior that cats need to keep their bones and muscles healthy. Ending declawing will prevent major health problems for the cats who are spared from this procedure in Maryland.

A declawed cat is more likely to exhibit increased behavioral problems such as aggression and biting to compensate for losing his protective claws, which are his first line of defense. Declawing leads to chronic pain, arthritis, balance issues, and back problems. It can also result in litter box problems such as avoidance.

Declawing can lead directly to cats being relinquished to shelters, since it causes disruptive behaviors in cats who lose this important part of their anatomy. Fewer cats being relinquished to shelters is good news for all of Maryland.

Declawing, also known as onychectomy, is a surgical amputation that would be similar to cutting a person’s finger off at the last knuckle. Maryland joins New York as the only two states to ban cat declawing. However, Alley Cat Allies and The Paw Project are advocating for similar bills currently pending in Arizona, California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.

Cat declawing is already banned in several major cities in the U.S. including Los Angeles; San Francisco; Denver; Pittsburgh; Austin; and Madison, Wisconsin. Leading veterinary organizations in the U.S. also have positions against declawing. Outside the U.S., declawing is outlawed in over 40 countries around the world.