New Jersey is close to becoming the first state in the nation to ban declawing.

The New Jersey Assembly and Senate are considering bills, A3899 and S2410, that would add declawing to the state’s list of animal cruelty offenses. The practice would only be allowed if medically necessary. Because our supporters spoke out, Bill A3899 reported favorably out of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee earlier this month. Now they are waiting to move on to the next step.

Declawing isn’t just a nail trim; it’s a surgery that amputates the last bone on each of a cat’s toes. The surgery is painful and can have harmful long-term effects on a cat’s well-being. Without their claws, cats can have trouble walking, balancing, and using the litter box.

Cats also use their claws to protect themselves, so if declawed, they are more likely to become aggressive and bite to compensate. According to one study, among cats surrendered to shelters due to aggression, 71 percent had bitten a person. Additionally, declawed cats are more likely to reject their litter boxes. One study found that cats were 2 to 6 times more likely to be surrendered to a shelter because of litter box issues alone. Ultimately, being surrendered to a shelter is a death sentence for cats, as 70 percent of cats in shelters are killed.

Declawing is completely unnecessary. There are humane ways to stop cats from scratching, like scratching posts, deterrents, and nail caps. It’s time we ended the cruel practice, and New Jersey could start the ball rolling in the United States.

If you live in New Jersey, take action and ask your legislators to support the declaw ban bill.