Tacoma becomes first city in Washington to ban cat declawing

The Tacoma City Council voted on Tuesday to ban cat declawing in the city, except when done by a licensed veterinarian for therapeutic reasons only. 

"I’m incredibly proud that the City Council has passed this ban on non-therapeutic cat declawing and that Tacoma takes animal welfare issues seriously," Council Member John Hines said in a release. "Declawing a cat without a medical reason is cruel and inhumane, and we have received an incredible outpouring of support from the community for this ban."

Cat declawing, known medically as feline onychectomy, is when a cat's third phalanges (toe bones) are amputated. According to a release from the Tacoma City Council, declawing can result in a range of problems, including "paw pain, infection, and lameness, and can impair the cat’s ability to walk properly."

The Tacoma City Council said the ban does prevent veterinarians from declawing cats when it's medically necessary. Examples could include removing cancerous tumors or when a cat has been injured so severely, amputation is required.

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Tacoma joins a growing number of cities banning cat declawing, like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburg and Denver. States like New York and Maryland have also put bans in place.

Tacoma's ban goes into effect on March 31, 2024.