Illinois House Passes Bill Banning Declawing Cats


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CHICAGO, Ill. – The Illinois House has passed a bill to ban cat declawing, moving the state one step closer to making it illegal. The bill, sponsored by Representative Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, will outlaw the surgical removal of any cat’s claws, known as feline onychectomy, with few exceptions. 

While many animal rights activists applaud the decision, some veterinarians oppose the bill.

The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association (ISVMA) claims the bill puts cats at risk and could jeopardize their lives. ISVMA President Dr. Joanne Carlson, DVM, said the legislation is too narrow and deeply concerning. Carlson states that Illinois veterinarians infrequently perform feline onychectomies, and any claims that this procedure is a common practice are untrue. 

When the process is recommended, veterinarians employ the utmost care while engaging in state-of-the-art procedures and employing the most effective pain management treatment.

Veterinarians argue that there is no evidence that cats who have this procedure experience any long-term difficulties. Recovery time is swift, and advanced laser procedures and anesthesia often allow the cat to resume normal activities the same day. Modern declawing is no more painful or complicated than one might expect from a spay or neuter procedure. There are unique cat health cases every year, and sometimes the procedure is the most humane option and the only alternative to abandonment or euthanasia.

This bill is still awaiting Senate approval. Many shelters are full, and adoption rates for cats older than 18 months are low. In Illinois, cats get euthanized in the shelter system. Illinois needs to ensure they are promoting healthy and happy pets for families, and this bill aims to do just that.

The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association (ISVMA) predicts, monitors, and confronts issues that affect the licenses of Illinois veterinarians. More than 1800 ISVMA member veterinarians, veterinary students, and Certified Veterinary Technicians depend upon the representation and services provided by the ISVMA. Their participation ensures the continued strength of the veterinary profession in Illinois, advancing the standards of animal care, public health, and science that underpin veterinary medicine.

While Illinois moves closer to outlawing declawing of cats, veterinarians are still fighting for the option to perform it in certain situations. It’s a delicate balance between animal rights and the humane treatment of cats, but one that everyone can agree should be carefully weighed and debated.


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