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Houghtaling votes to ban cat declawing

Thursday, November 17, 2016 8:16
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photo courtesy of Freya’s Cat Resuce

Freshman Assemlyman Eric Houghtaling wants to ban New Jersey veterinarians from declawing cats.

The assemblyman from Neptune Township is a member of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.  The committee passed bill A3899, a bill that prohibits the surgical declawing of cats and other animals, 3-1 with one abstention, on Monday.  Houghtaling voted in favor of the bill, which if passed in the full Assembly and Senate and signed by the Governor, would make New Jersey the only state that bans the procedure.

The proposed law exempts declawing cats for therapeutic and medically necessary procedures.  Violators, both veterinarians and pet owners seeking the procedure will be subject to a fine of $1000 or six months in jail in the bill becomes law.

Animal welfare organizations are opposed to the procedure.  According to, Nicole Feddersen, medical director for the Monmouth County SPCA, called it an “invasive surgery,” that puts cats “at risk for pain and lameness. A cat still has urge to scratch but cannot.”

But the New Jersey Veterinary Association thinks the government should stay out of the decision to declaw cat, according to

Middletown veterinarian Michael Yurkus, a member of the New Jersey Veterinary Association, said the medical procedure has become less invasive in the last 20 years.

 “Only the claw bed is removed, he said. “We do not cut bone, and the pain medicine that is available today was not available” decades ago, Yurkus said.

“We are not pro-declaw, but we want to prevent them from being relinquished” and eventually euthanized, he said. “We feel this is between a licensed vet and the client, and should not be regulated by the government.”

Lorraine Valente, founder of Freya’s Cat Rescue  in Manalapan, told MMM that declawing ban would result in the abandonment, maiming and death of thousands of cats.  “The procedure should be done between the ages of 5 and 10 months old, and with a laser,” Valente said.  “After 10 months old, the cat’s knuckle is often removed and the procedure is butchery. Unfortunately, many veterinarians are uneducated on the best practice or do not invest in the expensive laser equipment.”

“Most cats are unadoptable unless they are declawed,” Valente continued. “I’ve heard of successful procedures after the age of 10 months, but I have never seen it.  It is a catch-22 after 10 months, either the cat is maimed, abandoned or killed.”

Valente said the the legislature should regulate the procedure and require vets to be properly trained and equipped, rather than ban the procedure outright.

Houghtaling has yet to return our call.


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