Chicago, IL

Maryland is the second state to ban declawing cats. Should Illinois be next?

Jennifer Geer

Although the practice is illegal in many countries, including countries throughout Europe, cat declawing is still legal in most U.S. states.

(CHICAGO) Cat declawing is now illegal in two states, Maryland and New York. It used to be a fairly standard practice at the veterinarian's office. But times have changed, and today many vets refuse to declaw a cat without a medical reason.

According to PAWS Chicago, "Declawing, or onychectomy, is an elective surgery that results in the amputation of a cat’s third phalanges. Surgical amputation of the third phalanges is comparable to removing the bones closest to the fingertips in humans."

Cat declawing is now illegal in Maryland and New York

Last week Maryland became the second state in the nation, after New York did so in 2019, to make it illegal to declaw cats.

The practice is also banned in several major cities, including Los Angeles, Austin, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Denver, and Madison, Wisconsin.

What do vets say?

Declawing cats has become a controversial topic, and many vets attempt to find alternative solutions when owners request the procedure.

The Metropolitan Veterinary Center in Chicago states on its website, "Declawing a cat goes against its natural behaviors and instincts." Also, "It is an unpleasant experience for the cat, despite appropriate pain medication."

The clinic says owners may decide to declaw cats if the only other option is to give the cat up for adoption, although they will discuss alternative solutions with the owner.

Banfield, VCA, and BluePearl (veterinary hospitals comprising over 2,000 clinics in the U.S.) announced in 2020 that they would no longer offer "elective" declawing of cats.

And according to PAWS Chicago, "It [cat declawing] is consistent with amputation and should never be done. Scratching is an innate behavior and should be addressed by providing your cat with the proper equipment and place to scratch as well as plenty of play and exercise."

Finally, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is firmly against declawing cats, "The ASPCA is strongly opposed to declawing cats for the convenience of their owners or to prevent damage to household property."

Is cat declawing legal in Chicago?

Yes, it is legal to declaw cats in Chicago and the state of Illinois. There is currently no pending legislation in the state or in the city to ban the declawing of cats.

Currently, there seems to be little interest in banning declawing cats in Chicago. A failed petition on can be found attempting to ban cat declawing within the city. However, the petition is seven years old and only amassed 955 signatures.

There are several states and cities around the country with pending legislation, including Arizona (HB2224), California (SB-585), Massachusetts (MA S222), and Pennsylvania (HB 1624).


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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL

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