Austin considering citywide ban on cat declawing procedures

The New York state legislature passed a bill that would be the first in the nation to outlaw the declawing of cats. 

Eight counties in California and Denver have also passed laws banning de-clawing cats.

A similar law could be passed here in Austin soon. 

Doctor Katrina Breitreiter has been a veterinarian for nearly six years. 

During her years of practice she's performed dozens of reparative surgeries on de-clawed cats.

“It’s heart breaking to know that cat has live more than 10 years in so much pain and she couldn’t use her paws to play with,” said Dr. Breitreiter.

Dr. Breitreiter says the procedure consists of removing bone fragments from the paws of cats after they were leftover from the previous de-clawing surgery.

“Those cats were literally walking on pieces of bone essentially like walking with a pebble in your shoe. Except you can’t take your shoe off to remove the pebble,” said Dr. Breitreiter.

Dr. Breitreiter says many people, including animal lovers, don’t realize that declawing is a surgical procedure in which the animal’s toes are amputated at the last joint. 

A portion of the bone, not just the nail, is removed. 

“Often times we’re finding pieces of claw that have grown back underneath the skin and we’re finding evidence of infection,” said Dr. Breitreiter.

For five years she’s worked with the ‘The PAW Project,’ a nationwide non-profit whose mission is to educate the public about the painful and crippling effects of feline declawing.

“More aware of what the procedure actually entails I think yes fewer people are choosing to declaw their cats,” said Dr. Breitreiter.

In Austin, she’s teamed up with Animal Advisory Commission to draft up a bill that would prohibit veterinarians within the city of Austin from performing de-clawing surgeries unless they are necessary for medical reasons. 

“I think really falls onto veterinarians too to educate because I’ve had many clients that I’ve met who have declawed cats and had no idea what that actually means and that it’s fact an amputation,” said Dr. Breitreiter.

Alternatives to declawing can include providing a cat with a scratching post, training your cat or placing double-sided tape on a piece of cardboard and covering the furniture you want to protect.   

Dr. Breitreiter hopes to add Austin to the list. 

“Our rescue community is amazing I think we are a leader in Animal welfare here in Austin and being feline friendly is very in line with our city’s culture,” said Dr. Breitreiter.

The next stop is the Health and Human Services Committee and if it passes City Council has the last say.

If passed, Austin would be the first city in Texas to outlaw the de-clawing procedures.