Maryland officially bans the practice of declawing cats with Gov. Hogan bill signing

April 24, 2022


Written by Laura Wainman & Alanea Cremen

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Editor’s note: The video above originally aired on April 4, and shows animals rights legislation signed by Virginia’s governor. 

One of the 103 bills to make its way to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk Thursday for his signature was a piece of animals-rights legislation years in the making. Hogan signed a bill officially banning the declawing of cats under most circumstances, making Maryland one of only two states to ban the practice.

The bill prohibits veterinarians from declawing cats unless the process is necessary for “therapeutic purposes.” If the vet declaws a cat for any other purpose, they could have their license suspended or revoked, or face fines.

The law will take effect on Oct. 1.

“Our beloved kitties, who cannot advocate for themselves, need us to protect them,” said Montgomery County Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan, one of the bill’s sponsors. “I am so proud that Maryland will become just the second state to ban the cruel practice of declawing our cats.”

According to reporting from the Associated Press, unlike human nails, a cat’s claws are attached to bone. In order to declaw a cat, a vet has to slice through the tendon and nerves in order to remove the last segment of bone in a cat’s toes. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) discourages the practice of declawing cats.

“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,” Alley Cat Allies President and Founder Becky Robinson said. “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.”

New York made headlines for being the first state to ban cat declawing in 2019. Thirteen U.S. cities –mainly in California — and more than 40 countries also do not allow it. Similar legislation is being considered in Arizona, California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and D.C.

Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced the “Animal Care and Control Omnibus Amendment Act of 2021” to the DC Council in December, with the goal of banning the tools used for dogfighting, closing a loophole that makes bestiality legal in D.C., prohibiting cat declawing, requiring pet stores to sell rescued animals and managing pet ownership in a divorce. The bill is in the public hearing stage, and has not been voted on yet.