• City of Tacoma QA
  • City of Tacoma OpenData

City Council Approves Ban on Cat Declawing in Tacoma

City Council Approves Ban on Cat Declawing in Tacoma


December 5, 2023



Maria Lee, Media & Communications, maria.lee@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-2054

City Council Approves Ban on Cat Declawing in Tacoma 

TACOMA, Wash. – Tonight, the City Council voted to ban cat declawing in Tacoma, except when conducted by a licensed veterinarian for a therapeutic purpose. Concerned residents raised the issue of cat declawing earlier this year, prompting Council Member John Hines, Council Member Olgy Diaz, and Council Member Sarah Rumbaugh to spearhead efforts to adopt a citywide ban on the procedure. In adopting this ban, Tacoma proudly joins cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Denver, St. Louis, Washington D.C., and more, as well as the states of New York and Maryland, and dozens of countries around the world, that have already put an end to this inhumane practice.


“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,” said Council Member John Hines. “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. I think it is important that people understand that declawing a cat is painful and traumatic for the animal. Declawed cats can also be left with lifelong medical and behavioral problems that make owners more likely to have to surrender their beloved companion to our local animal shelters. So many effective, safe, affordable, and humane alternatives exist today that we simply cannot allow cats to be subjected to this procedure without a medical reason.” 


Feline onychectomy—more commonly referred to as cat declawing, but more accurately called de-knuckling—is a major surgery where a cat’s third phalanges (toe bones) and claws are surgically amputated. Cat claws grow from the bone, making the surgery to remove the claw similar to amputating a human finger at the last knuckle. Declawing can result in a range of medical problems for the animal, including paw pain, infection, and lameness, and can impair the cat’s ability to walk properly. In some cases, the claw can even start to regrow from the bone shards that remain under the skin, causing nerve damage. Declawing can also negatively impact the animal’s emotional well-being and behavior and increase the risk of biting. Amputating a toe bone can be medically necessary, such as in cases where the cat has a cancerous tumor or has injured its paw so severely that amputation is needed. Tacoma’s ban does not interfere with or limit a licensed veterinarian’s ability to surgically address pathology in the paw for a therapeutic purpose.


“The Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County has seen firsthand the profound and heartbreaking consequences of declawing on a cat’s behavioral, emotional, and physical well-being. We appreciate the City Council’s collaboration in banning this inhumane practice, recognizing our shared responsibility to protect animals from unnecessary suffering and ensuring their right to a pain-free life,” said Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County Chief Executive Officer Leslie Dalzell. “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our dedicated animal-loving community for joining us in championing this ban and for sharing their powerful messages of support.”


“As an avid pet lover and former cat mom, I am grateful for the work and votes of my colleagues to stop the animal cruelty caused by cat declawing in Tacoma,” said Council Member Olgy Diaz. “Pet owners seeking this service are unlikely to know that declawing cats is equivalent to amputation and banning the practice in our city provides an important educational dialog while keeping more cats safe from life altering harm.”


“By passing this important legislation, Tacoma has proven itself to be a leader in the humane treatment of animals. This is a win for cats because they won’t have to suffer unnecessary mutilation and it’s a win for veterinarians because they won’t be asked to perform a surgery that they know is wrong. It is also a win for the residents of Tacoma who won’t have to see declawed cats lose their homes and be deemed unadoptable due to the bad behaviors that declawing causes,” said Jennifer Conrad, DVM, of the Paw Project, the world’s largest nonprofit entirely dedicated to ending the cruel practice of declawing.


“I am proud to see Tacoma be the first city in Washington state to pass this cat declawing ban,” said Council Member Sarah Rumbaugh. “We are following the lead of cities across the country in our pursuit of humane treatment for cats. I hope our local action will inspire a conversation on what a statewide cat declawing ban could look like.”


The ban on cat declawing in the City of Tacoma, except when conducted by a licensed veterinarian for a therapeutic purpose, will go into effect on March 31, 2024.

Community members with questions about this policy can contact Christina Caan in the Office of Council Member John Hines at ccaan@cityoftacoma.org or (253) 219-0679.