The California Cities Where Cat Declawing Is a No-No


Declawing cats is a controversial topic that involves surgically removing a cat’s claws by amputating the end bones of their toes. While some pet owners choose to declaw their cats to prevent scratching furniture or accidental scratches, declawing is considered inhumane by many veterinarians and animal welfare organizations.

In recent years, several cities in California have banned the practice of declawing cats due to animal cruelty concerns. Declawing can cause long-term pain, impairment and other behavioral problems in cats. Advocates for banning the procedure argue that it provides no medical benefit to the cat and can severely impact their physical and psychological health.

This article will provide an overview of cities in California where declawing cats has been outlawed, the reasons for banning the procedure, perspectives from veterinarians, and alternative options for cat owners concerned about destructive scratching behaviors.

History of Banning Declawing in California

The first city in California to ban cat declawing was West Hollywood in 2003 ( The West Hollywood City Council unanimously voted to pass this pioneering ordinance banning the procedure.

In 2006, the city of San Francisco banned declawing except for medical necessity ( This made San Francisco the first major U.S. city to take this step.

Over the next decade, several other cities in California followed suit in banning elective declawing, including Los Angeles in 2009, Burbank and Santa Monica in 2013, and Berkeley in 2014. In 2017, Culver City also prohibited the procedure.

Most recently, in 2019 Oceanside banned declawing except for medical necessity. As of 2023, at least 8 cities across California have bans on declawing in place.

Major California Cities that Ban Declawing

Several major cities in California have passed laws banning cat declawing. These include:

  • Los Angeles – Banned in 2009
  • San Francisco – Banned in 2005
  • Santa Monica – Banned in 2003
  • Beverly Hills – Banned in 2010
  • Berkeley – Banned in 2019
  • Culver City – Banned in 2010
  • Burbank – Banned in 2013

These major metropolitan areas acted early to outlaw the declawing of cats, setting an example for other cities in California.

Full List of California Cities Banning Declawing

A number of cities in California have passed local ordinances banning elective declawing of cats within city limits. Here is a comprehensive list of all the cities in California that currently prohibit declawing:

These cities have all prohibited elective declawing procedures within their jurisdiction, unless medically necessary for the cat’s health. Performing declawing surgery in violation of these bans can result in fines and other penalties.

California State Law on Declawing

There is currently no statewide law in California that bans declawing cats. However, individual cities and counties in California have passed local ordinances prohibiting the procedure. As of 2022, the cities that have banned declawing include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Culver City, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood. Several other cities have the ban under consideration.

In the rest of California outside these cities, declawing is still legal. However, a bill called the California Cat Declawing Prohibition Act (AB 2606) was introduced in February 2022 that aims to make declawing illegal across California unless medically necessary. The bill passed the State Assembly in June 2022 and will next go to the Senate for consideration. If signed into law, California would become the first state to ban elective declawing statewide.

Supporters of a statewide declawing ban argue it is an inhumane procedure that leads to lifelong pain and health problems for cats. Opponents say it should remain a choice between cat owners and their veterinarians. Until and unless AB 2606 is passed, cat declawing will remain legal in parts of California, though banned in a growing number of major cities.


Arguments For Banning Declawing

Many animal welfare advocates argue that declawing cats is inhumane and should be banned. Here are some of the main arguments in favor of banning the procedure:

Declawing is considered an act of animal cruelty by many experts. The surgery involves amputating the last bone of each toe, which causes pain both during recovery and long-term. According to the Humane Society, declawing changes the way a cat’s feet meet the ground and can cause back pain and lameness.

There are serious medical and health risks associated with declawing. Potential complications include infection, tissue necrosis, and chronic back and joint pain. Declawed cats may avoid using the litter box because it aggravates their sore paws. This can lead to inappropriate urination and other behavioral issues. Studies show that declawed cats are more likely to have health and behavior problems compared to cats with intact claws.

Arguments Against Banning Declawing

Some argue that declawing should remain legal as a personal choice for cat owners. They believe the decision should be left to individual pet owners, who can weigh the risks and benefits in consultation with their veterinarian. Banning the procedure infringes on personal liberties, they argue.

Another common argument against banning declawing is for cat population control. With limited space in shelters, some say declawing makes cats more adoptable by reducing scratches, thus reducing the number of cats abandoned or euthanized each year. According to advocates of this view, a declawing ban could lead to an increase in unwanted cats and higher shelter death rates if fewer people adopt cats due to scratching concerns. They argue the procedure should remain an option for those wanting an indoor cat but concerned about scratches on furniture or people (Source).

Veterinarian Perspectives

Many veterinarians have mixed opinions when it comes to declawing cats. Some see valid reasons for the procedure in certain cases, while others are strongly opposed to it under any circumstances. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), declawing should only be considered as a “last resort” when dealing with serious behavioral issues that put the cat or owner’s health at risk (AVMA Backgrounder).

Those against routine declawing cite potential physical, behavioral and emotional side effects. The procedure removes important tendons and ligaments in the paw, so there can be chronic pain, arthritis, and other long-term medical issues. Cats may also exhibit increased biting or litter box avoidance after being declawed. Many vets view it as an ethically questionable practice comparable to removing fingers at the last joint (CBS News).

However, some vets still defend declawing in specific cases where destructive clawing cannot be resolved through other means. They view it as a reasonable last option if it means keeping the cat in a safe home. There are also differing cultural attitudes, as declawing is still routinely practiced in many countries outside of Europe and North America.

Overall, the veterinary perspective on declawing seems to be shifting away from routine acceptance and toward considering it only in exceptional cases after exhausting all alternatives. But opinions remain divided on whether it should be allowed at all.

Alternative Options

There are several humane alternatives to declawing that cat owners can consider. These options address destructive scratching behaviors while allowing cats to keep their claws.

One alternative is regular nail trimming. Trimming a cat’s nails every 1-2 weeks reduces scratching damage by blunting the claws. Cat owners can use standard nail clippers designed for pets. It’s best to trim only the sharp tip of the nail and avoid cutting into the pink quick, which will be painful and cause bleeding. With positive reinforcement training, most cats will learn to tolerate routine nail trims.

Another option is using nail caps like Soft Paws. These are plastic caps that fit over the cat’s nails. They need to be replaced every 4-6 weeks as the nails regrow, but act as a gentle barrier to blunt scratching damage. Nail caps do not interfere with normal extension and retraction of the claws.

Cat owners can also apply double-sided sticky tape or sheets of foil on furniture or areas they want to deter scratching. The sticky or unappealing textures when cats try to scratch these surfaces often deters further scratching attempts. Or owners can set up more appealing scratching posts and boards around the house.

For aggressive or anxious scratchers, synthetic pheromones like Feliway can help reduce the impulse to scratch. These mimic cat face pheromones and have a calming effect. Strategic use of catnip may also redirect scratching to more appropriate toys and posts.


In summary, declawing cats is banned in several major cities across California including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Culver City, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood. Although California has not instituted a statewide ban, individual cities and counties have taken legislative action to prohibit this procedure due to animal welfare concerns. Arguments for banning declawing focus on the pain it causes cats and potential medical complications, while arguments against banning emphasize declawing’s benefits in certain situations. There are alternatives like trimming claws regularly or using scratching posts that allow cats to happily coexist in homes without being declawed. Overall the trend in California has been moving decisively against routine declawing, though views still remain mixed among vets and the public. Hopefully this overview of the debate around banning declawing in California cities and statewide provides useful context and considerations around this controversial procedure.

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