A proposed bill that would ban declawing cats in the City and County of Denver is picking up steam with animal activists.
Declawing, or onychectomy, is the operation to remove an animal's claws surgically. All or most of the last bone of each of the ten front toes is removed, and tendons, nerves and ligaments that allow for normal function of the paw are severed.
Denver veterinarian Aubrey Lavizzo will present a proposal authored by Denver Councilwoman Kendra Black. The measure would make it illegal to declaw cats in Denver. Lavizzo said it's not only painful for cats but also leads to behavioral issues that pet owners find challenging like using the bathroom in unwanted places.
"They will urinate and defecate outside the litter box because it hurts to scratch that sandy, grainy, gravelly litter," he said.
Lavizzo also said declawing cats can cause them to bite more often because it's their only defense mechanism.
Those who have thrown support behind the bill include the Denver Cat Company, the City of West Hollywood and Boulder resident Jackson Galaxy, more notably known as the host of Animal Planet's "My Cat From Hell."
In a letter to Councilwoman Black, Galaxy says he's witnessed "first-hand the detrimental effects of declawing." He goes on to explain that claws and scratching for a cat are natural and necessary.
Cats who need to be declawed for "medically necessary" reasons are excluded, which the bill clearly defines as a procedure that's "necessary to treat or relieve physical illness, infection, disease, or injury, or to correct a congenital abnormality that is causing or will cause the cat physical harm or pain."
This excludes cosmetic or aesthetic reasons.
A similar ban went into effect in Los Angeles back in 2009. The general manager of the Los Angeles Animal Services Department shot down the claim that anti-declaw legislation leads to more cats being surrendered to shelters.
"There were 26,942 owner-surrendered cats that came into the Los Angeles shelter system in the five years before the Los Angeles declaw ban went into effect, compared to 15,276 owner-surrendered cats in the five years afterward, a reduction of 43.3 percent," the letter from Brenda Barnette read.
Laws prohibiting declawing exist in many countries, including Austria, Croatia, Malta, Israel, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
In the U.S., declawing is prohibited in the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Culver City, West Hollywood, and Burbank.
If adopted, the ordinance would be effective immediately. The bill will be heard during Wednesday's Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee meeting at 10:30 a.m. at the City & County Building, Room 391.