Cat declawing moves closer to being scratched out in Maryland

Maryland’s House of Delegates passed a bill Thursday that would make the process of declawing cats illegal unless it’s needed to resolve a medical condition.

House Bill 0022 passed with a 112-25 majority, which would make declawing — the removal of a cat’s claws — illegal for a veterinarian to perform.

According to the legislation, any animal physician found performing the procedure would face a $5,000 fine for a first offense and up to a $10,000 fine for a second offense. In addition, the veterinarian will have their license suspended or revoked.



Supporters said declawing is painful and inhumane for a cat. State Sen. Cheryl Kagan, who introduced similar legislation in the Maryland Senate, told lawmakers in February that declawing or lasering a cat’s claws off would cause multiple health problems.

Those issues include “limping, lifelong pain, problems using a litter box and (the cat’s ability in) defending itself.”

“[It] not just taking off and doing a little manicure and then trimming their nails, it’s actually removing the first knuckle of their paws,” said Kagan, D-Montgomery.

The state Senate passed Kagan’s legislation with a 32-14 vote in February.

Both chambers must approve one of the bills before the measure heads to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk for final approval.

If any of the bills are signed into law, Maryland would be only the second state behind New York to ban declawing.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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