New Jersey is one step closer to becoming the first state in the country to ban veterinarians from declawing cats.
The bill that cleared an Assembly committee Monday must still be approved by the state legislature, according to NJ.com. Similar bans on declawing, or onychetomy, are being considered in New York and Hawaii.
If it becomes law, the bill would add onychetomy to the list of criminal animal cruelty offenses. There would be exceptions for medical purposes. Veterinarians caught declawing a cat and cat owners who seek them out would face a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail.
The Paw Project and many animals welfare groups oppose declawing because it is inhumane, painful and involves de-knuckling–akin to cutting off the top part of a finger. Some declawed cats experience personality changes and discomfort using litter boxes.