GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A bill before the Michigan Legislature would ban declawing cats.

The Kent County Animal Shelter does not declaw cats, but says it often takes cats in that have been declawed.

“What they’re doing is they’re removing the first digit of the cat, which is essentially the first bone in their toe,” Angela Hollinshead, who runs the shelter, explained. “So it would be like removing your finger to your first knuckle. It’s really a major surgery for these animals.”

The Humane Society of West Michigan said it supports the proposed ban, arguing that declawing cats can lead to medical complications and behavioral problems.

“We also see that there is an increase in biting out of frustration, as well as less litter box use when there is a cat that is declawed,” Amy Stockero of the Humane Society said.

She showed News 8 a cat named Skronkly, who had his claws removed. Stockero said the procedure was performed improperly and that led to an infection.

A declawed cat. (May 30, 2023)
Skronkly’s paw. (May 30, 2023)

“His paws previously had lots of red and you can see where it’s a little bit cracked under here,” she pointed out.

She said the Humane Society never declaws cats and advises that adopters don’t, either. But some cat owners find the procedure attractive, often because they want to protect their furniture.

“As we, over the years, brought cats into our homes and made them more part of our families, they’re more integrated with our household, which means they spend a lot of time around our furniture and our belongings, and it’s a battle of nature versus convenience,” Hollinshead said.

There are alternatives that can protect your furniture.

“Clipping their claws is absolutely something we recommend,” Stockero said. “There are little caps that you can put on their claws. Giving them other mental stimulation — so if scratching is an issue for them, making sure they have a scratch pad or that they have an area that they can have that outlet.”

The bill banning declawing, House Bill 4674, has been sent to the House Committee on Agriculture for consideration. It would provide exemptions if the procedure is needed for medical reasons.