Originally published in the Burlington County Times on February 21, 2017

New Jersey should take the next steps to become the first state that outlaws declawing, a painful and unnecessary procedure for cats.

People who aren’t informed about declawing may use it to stop their cats from scratching, but it’s not as simple as trimming your fingernails. Declawing is a surgical amputation of the last joints of a cat’s toes. It can mean 20 amputations if both front and back claws are included. Not only are the bones cut off, but tendons, nerves and ligaments in each paw are also severed. Side effects can include hemorrhaging, paw pad lacerations, swelling, radial nerve damage, lameness, infections, reopening of wounds, chronic pain, and biting and urinating outside the litter box. It is inhumane and needless surgery that brings pain and stress to cats, and can have harmful long-term effects on their wellbeing.

Opponents of the bill don’t talk much about the fact that declawing is a big money-maker. Veterinary offices who still declaw cats can charge as much as $900 for two paws.

Declawing is already outlawed in 30 countries and a number of U.S. cities. Many animal protection groups, veterinary colleges and veterinarians oppose it, too.

We applaud the Assembly for approving this ban, and urge the state Senate to do the same and Governor Christie to sign the bill into law.