On July 23, New York became a leader by passing the first statewide law to make declawing cats illegal.

“By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures,” said New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in an official statement.

Declawing cats is a cruel but unfortunately common veterinary practice. The harmful effects of declawing could cause a cat lifelong pain.

Alley Cat Allies and the Paw Project, a nonprofit organization working to end declawing through education and legislation, led the way to the victory. Together, we mobilized thousands of supporters in New York and beyond who contacted their legislators asking them to vote in support of the ban. We greatly thank the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal.

“Gov. Cuomo and New York legislators are protecting millions of cats in their state by banning this all too common, but cruel veterinary practice,” said Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “Declawing is a misnomer—it’s more accurate to call this procedure de-knuckling. It amputates the last bone of a cat’s toe, which is like cutting off a person’s finger up to the first knuckle.”

At Alley Cat Allies’ Every Kitty, Every City TEXAS conference, Jennifer Conrad, DVM, founder of the Paw Project, explained why cat declawing bans are necessary because this practice is still too common in the United States. Today, although declawing is rejected in much of the world, only nine U.S. cities—and now New York state—have banned it.

Declawed cats are often in so much pain that they avoid the litter box or bite to defend themselves. These are two of the most common reasons cats are taken to animal shelters, where the majority will be killed. “In Los Angeles, there was a 43.3 percent decrease in the number of cats relinquished to shelters after the city’s declaw ban went into effect,” Dr. Conrad explained to attendees.

Alley Cat Allies and the Paw Project are advocating for similar laws in other states including California and New Jersey.