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Cat controversy: A change to a Virginia bill has been proposed that would make declawing illegal

In the U.S., it's currently illegal to declaw cats in the states of New York and Maryland.

RICHMOND, Va. — A modification to Virginia state code was filed in the General Assembly on November 7 that, if passed, would ban a controversial practice involving cats.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, declawing is a procedure that amputates the last bone of each toe in a cat. 

A tendonectomy is a similar procedure that allows the cat to keep the claw, but it severs the tendon that allows the cat to extend its claws. 

Both procedures can be done through several methods, but as a result, they often cause pain through nerve damage or infections for cats. 

It would be similar to cutting off a human finger at the last knuckle, according to veterinary specialists. 

In the U.S., it's currently illegal to declaw cats in the states of New York and Maryland. While that's only two states, this year so far, over a quarter of state legislatures have proposed similar bans. 

Some cities across the country have their own independent bans as well. 

In the Virginia proposal, an exception was listed for "therapeutic reasons" that would be determined by a veterinarian to preserve the health of the cat. 

"'Therapeutic purpose' does not include any action performed for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons or reasons of convenience in the keeping or handling of a cat," the bill reads.

But if the change passes and a resident declaws their cat for any other reason, they could face a civil penalty of $500 for the first time, $1,000 for the second, and $2,500 for any instance after. 

The legislation will be presented during the next legislative session on January 11, 2023. 

You can read the full proposal here.

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