Austin Officials: City is first in Texas to ban the declawing of cats

Austin officials say the city is the first in Texas to ban the declawing of cats for non-therapeutic reasons. 

City Council unanimously passed the ordinance Thursday. Katie Jarl, of Austin Pets Alive! and the Austin Animal Advisory Commission says this comes after two years of meetings with veterinarians, the public and even officials from New York State. In 2019 the state became the first in the U.S. to ban declawing

It is a practice that many veterinarians and animal rights activists say is not only unnecessary, but cruel.

"Declawing a cat is not simply trimming their nails, it is an amputation. It’s a surgery that amputates the cat's toes at the last joint, so it is extremely painful for the cat." said Jarl. 

She says declawing a cat can have lifelong impacts on a cats health.



"It changes their posture, sometimes the claws start to grow back it causes these bone spurs almost in their claws which is something that we have seen at Austin Pets Alive." 

The procedure can also alter a cat's behavior.

"Sometimes a cats first defense is to swat you with that paw and let you know that something is making them uncomfortable. When they don’t have that option they will often resort to biting, and that will land them in the shelter really quickly." said Jarl. 

The procedure, performed for aesthetic reasons, is now punishable with a fine. Still, veterinarians are able to perform the procedure if it is medically necessary. 

Veterinarian Dr.Katrina Breitreiter explained  "The medical reasons to amputate a toe are the same as amputating a limb--cancer or severe injury that can't be repaired and in that situation, only the affected digits would have surgery done."