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Illinois legislation to ban declawing of cats is now before state Senate

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- Legislation to the would ban the declawing of cats has passed the Illinois House of Representatives and is now before the state Senate.

HB 1533 was initiated by the Illinois Humane Society. It would forbid the surgical claw removal, declawing, or tendonectomy of any cat, or otherwise altering a cat's toes, claws, or paws except for a therapeutic purpose.

The legislation prescribes penalties of $500 for a first offense, $1,000 for a second violation, and $2,500 for a third or subsequent violation.

The bill was introduced in January by Illinois state Rep. Barbara Hernandez (D-Aurora). Reps. Kelly Cassidy (D-Illinois) and Jonathan Carroll (D-Northbrook) signed on as chief-co sponsors soon afterward – while four other lawmakers also signed on as co-sponsors.

The bill passed the Illinois House on Thursday, March 16.

The procedure of declawing usually involves the surgical removal of a cat's toes back to the first knuckle.

"The science is clear: cat declawing can cause serious enduring discomfort and loss of quality of life for cats," Hernandez said in a news release. "While this used to be common practice, science has shown us that this is a procedure that should only be done if medically vital, and it's time our laws reflect reality."

The bill is now under consideration by the state Senate, where Sen. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) has signed on as chief co-sponsor.

"I have a cat, and believe me I understand that their claws can sting," Hernandez said in the release. "However, those claws are often an essential part of cats living naturally, and removing their claws without real cause isn't fair."

Maryland and New York are so far the only two states that have banned declawing.

However, many municipalities in the U.S. have their own bans. They include eight California cities – Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Santa Monica, and Burbank in Los Angeles County; and San Francisco and Berkeley in the Bay Area. Declawing is also banned in Denver, Colorado; St. Louis city and county, Missouri; Pittsburgh and Allentown, Pennsylvania; Austin, Texas; and Madison, Wisconsin.

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