Denver is the first U.S city outside California to BAN declawing (with the exemption of medically necessary procedures done by licensed veterinarians). If you’re thinking, “Hmm, declawing sounds unpleasant,” you’d be right.

Here’s a breakdown of what it is and why the Denver ban is such a huge victory:

What is declawing?

It’s exactly what it sounds like. Declawing is the procedure in which a cat’s claws, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and bones are removed. I imagine “deboning” sounded too disturbing when veterinarians were coming up with the term for it.

Is it painful?

Extraordinarily. It would be like having your fingers cut off at the first knuckle. *Gags*

What is the procedure like?

It involves 10 separate and extremely painful amputations. Let that sink in: AMPUTATIONS. Declawing is not the same thing as nail clipping. During the surgery, the last joint of each toe, including the bone and ligaments, is cut off.

During a public hearing on the ban, Kirsten Butler, a veterinary technician in Denver, said the following:

“Having run anesthesia on declaw procedures, I can tell you it is an awkward and disheartening feeling to keep something alive while it is mutilated in front of you.”

Are there ever complications from declawing?

Yes, many. Here are just a few:

  • Adverse reactions to anesthetics
  • Gangrene, which can lead to limb amputation
  • Hemorrhaging (aka uncontrollable blood loss)
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Persistent pain
  • Reluctance to walk
  • Scar tissue formation
  • Sequestrum (bone chips), requiring additional surgery
  • Skin disorders

And that’s not all. After the surgery, the nails can grow back inside the paw, causing pain without humans able to see that something is wrong.

Why is it done?

It’s done so that cats don’t scratch furniture or other household objects.

If your feline friend has a habit of scratching the furniture, there are humane ways of getting him or her to cut it out. Not literally—I said humane, people. Be sure to trim your cat’s nails regularly and provide him or her with lots of fun scratching posts placed throughout the house. Sprinkling a little catnip on the posts has been known to attract cats to them rather than couches.

The vote to ban declawing in Denver was unanimous.

“I think the proponents made a compelling case,” said Council Member Kendra Black, who led the proposal.

We can all thank her, along with veterinarian Aubrey Lavizzo, the local leader of the Paw Project, who persuaded Black to speak up for the ban.

Denver isn’t the first place to ban declawing. Nearly two dozen countries, including Australia, Japan, and the U.K., as well as several cities in California ban or seriously restrict the procedure. Congrats to Denver for joining the compassionate list!

How You Can Help

Never declaw your cats—use the humane strategies I mentioned earlier instead. You can also share this article with your loved ones to let them know why declawing is wrong.