A bill to prohibit declaw surgery throughout the state of New York is officially law.

On June 4, The New York Assembly and Senate both passed the bill and delivered it to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Governor signed the bill this morning, July 22, making New York the first state to ban declawing.

Now any veterinarian who declaws could be fined up to $1,000 unless the procedure is done for medical reasons such as injury or illness.

“On behalf of the half-million supporters of Alley Cat Allies, I congratulate New York for becoming the first state to ban declawing,” said Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “For a cat, declawing is both psychologically and physically harmful. By passing this ban, New York took an enormous step forward for valuing cats’ lives. It is now a model for the rest of the nation.”

Alley Cat Allies has long supported declawing bans to protect cats. We rallied our supporters in New York to send over 1,000 messages to their legislators and attend committee hearings to testify in favor of the ban bill.

We also collaborated with The Paw Project, one of the leading organizations advocating against declaw surgery, to urge New York’s legislators to pass the declaw ban. Dr. Jennifer Conrad, founder of The Paw Project, worked closely with Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who spent years spearheading efforts to end declawing in the state.

Dr. Conrad will present on the state of anti-declawing legislation, and the process of passing it, at Alley Cat Allies’ Every Kitty, Every City® TEXAS conference on July 23 in Dallas, Texas. Register today to attend and hear her, alongside Alley Cat Allies President and Founder Becky Robinson and many other experts.

Alley Cat Allies’ “Keep Cats’ Claws on their Paws” campaign educates cat caregivers, veterinarians, officials, and advocates on the pain and trauma caused by declawing. Many people are still not aware that declawing is far from a nail trim. It is the surgical amputation of the last joints of a cat’s toes, and it can cause lasting damage.

Cats rely on their claws for their regular behavioral and grooming needs, and to help defend themselves. They scratch to remove dead nail sheathes and to stretch and strengthen their muscles, among other things.

If cats are declawed, they lose a part of themselves that they need. Cats often avoid their litter boxes because of the resulting pain in their paws. Without their natural protection, they are also more likely to feel unsafe and bite. These are two of the most common reasons cats are relinquished to animal shelters.

Many shelters still kill countless cats, so losing her home could also cost a declawed cat her life.

Not only does declawing put cats at risk, it is also completely unnecessary. Humane and affordable methods to curb or redirect scratching are readily available. These include but are not limited to humane deterrents, vinyl nail covers, and scratching posts.

New York has taken these facts and turned them into action. The state joins Denver, Colorado, eight cities in California, six Canadian provinces, and at least 41 countries, including England, Israel, and European Union, in making declaw surgery illegal.

Right now, Alley Cat Allies is advocating for similar bills in Massachusetts and New Jersey. If you live in those areas, watch for ways to take action and ban declawing.