Kelli Bender
November 18, 2016 03:05 PM

New Jersey is working to let kitties keep their claws.

On Nov. 14 an assembly committee approved a bill that would ban veterinarians from declawing cats, reports The Huffington Post. The bill, if it passes, would make declawing a criminal act of animal cruelty. The next step for this first-of-its-kind bill is to pass through the legislature.

If the proposal becomes law, New Jersey vets and pet owners could receive a $1,000 fine and/or six months in jail for declawing a cat. This would be the first state cat declawing ban in America.

Animal advocates are moving for the ban, because the procedure, which removes bones from a cat’s paw, is painful for the animal and can lead to permanent nerve damage.

“Too often, people think that declawing is a simple surgery that removes a cat’s nails ­— the equivalent of having your fingernails trimmed,” The Humane Society said in a statement about declawing. “Declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.”

Some vets in the state believe the ban is not necessary and that the procedure isn’t harmful to felines as long as it is done carefully and correctly. Others against the bill say that banning declawing procedures could lead to the euthanization of more cats, who might be returned to shelters for their destructive scratching behaviors.

Those in support of the ban say there are less traumatizing ways to curb unwanted scratching.

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