It’s Now Illegal to Declaw a Cat in Denver

November 14, 2017, 4:29 PM UTC

Denver has taken a stand in the oft-controversial debate over declawing cats, with the City Council unanimously passing a ban on the practice Monday night. Critics have labeled the procedure, which is common in most states, as inhumane.

The city is the first municipality in the country outside of California to ban declawings. (Since 2003, eight cities in that state have prohibited the act.) Public opinion was strongly behind the bill, though some pet owners objected, saying any pain experienced by cats who underwent the procedure was temporary.

The bill applies only to elective declawing. Any medically required procedure is still permitted. The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association opposed the bill, somewhat surprisingly, saying it was an issue that should be left up to cat owners and their pets’ doctors.

Declawing, while it certainly stops cats from destroying furniture and rugs, removes the top third of a feline’s digits. Veterinarians described the procedure in graphic detail to City Council members in hearings leading up to the vote.

While critics worry that the action could result in people surrendering more cats to shelters, supporters note that California cities who have similar legislation in place have not seen spikes in cat intakes at shelters.