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Maryland House, Senate each pass bill to outlaw declawing of cats

Both bills -- one in the House, the other in the Senate -- would only allow for cats to be declawed for "therapeutic purposes."

MARYLAND, USA — Two bills are making their way through the Maryland General Assembly with the same goal: banning the practice of declawing cats. 

HB0022 passed a vote in the Maryland House Thursday 112-25 and SB0067 passed the Senate 32-14 on Feb. 21. 

Both bills would prohibit veterinarians from declawing cats unless the process is necessary for "therapeutic purposes." If the vet declaws a cat for any other purpose, they could face having their license suspended or revoked or facing fines. 

According to reporting from the Associated Press, unlike human nails, a cat's claws are attached to bone. In order to declaw a cat, a vet has to slice through the tendon and nerves in order to remove the last segment of bone in a cat's toes.

"Declawing is a horrendously painful and disfiguring surgery," Senator Mary Washington (D- Baltimore City) said. "It is positively inhuman and conducted solely for the benefit of the owner. It has no benefit for the cat, in fact, quite the opposite."

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) discourages the practice of declawing cats, also known as onychectomy. 

"Onychectomy is a surgical amputation and if performed, multi-modal perioperative pain management must be utilized," said the AMVA on their website. 

The AMVA instead suggests alternative procedures but encourages owners to listen to their vets when making a decision.

Both chambers need to pass one of the bills in order to send it to Gov. Larry Hogan for final approval. 

The practice of declawing cats has been outlawed in several cities and states across the country. New York made headlines for being the first state to ban cat declawing in 2019.

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