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Austin City Council approves ordinance banning the declawing of cats 'for aesthetic reasons'

In 2019, New York became the first state to ban cat declawing.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: The video published above is a report from 2017 about the City of Denver banning the declawing of cats.

The Austin City Council approved an ordinance Thursday banning the declawing of cats.

The ordinance will protect cats from unnecessary elective amputations while also preserving a veterinarian’s discretion in addressing the physical medical condition of the cat for a therapeutic purpose. Only surgeries done for aesthetic reasons or those done for the convenience of the cat’s owner would be prohibited, the ordinance states. You can read the new ordinance here

How we got here

The approval came after two years of public input, commission meetings and discussions with veterinarians. The Animal Advisory Commission (AAC) received extensive public input and discussion, and at its Sept. 10, 2018, meeting, moved to send a recommendation asking the City Council to prohibit practice of declawing cats within the City of Austin. That 2018 motion was proceeded by eight months of meetings and discussions with veterinarians, cat rescue groups and consultations with the local veterinary association president who declined to attend meetings. The motion passed unanimously.

Support for the ban

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti penned a letter of support to the Austin City Council's proposed ordinance, stating the success a declawing ban has had on public animal shelters in his city. According to Garcetti's letter, the number of owner-surrendered cats in Los Angeles dropped from 26,942 in the five years prior to its November 2009 ban to 15,276 in the five years after it was implemented. That's a reduction of 43.3%. 

"In addition to protecting animals from harm, our ordinance has helped foster the growing knowledge and understanding that, in addition to the grossly inhumane procedure of declawing, declawed cats often develop behaviors that make them much less desirable as pets or cripple them for life," the Los Angeles mayor said.

In 2019, New York became the first state to ban cat declawing. With the passing of the ban, a city spokesperson told KVUE it’s believed Austin is the first Texas city to prohibit declawing of cats.

“Preliminary searches for other cities who have instituted a ban come up empty,” the City spokesperson said.

WATCH: Sparkle welcomes first litter of kittens to Austin Pets Alive!

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