California's Claws Clause

With no name and owner, this male cat waits for adoption at the Gulf Coast Humane Society animal shelter in Corpus Christi, Texas Sunday, Aug. 29, 1999. The one-year-old cat has had all of its shots and is neutered, all done by the shelter. (AP Photo/Corpus Chtisti Caller Times, John Kennedy)

Welcome to cat heaven - West Hollywood, Calif. - where pet owners are called "Pet Guardians" by law. Now it's become the first U.S. city to ban cat declawing - completely removing a cat's claws so it won't scratch and rip up the house. It was the pet project of City Councilman John Duran.

"We don't consider cats and dogs to be just property, he told CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker. "To the extent that we can protect them from harm here in West Hollywood, we do."

Asked if he knew that this would open up townspeople to the charge, "There goes those wacky Californians!" Duran agreed. "Absolutely, land of fruits and nuts!" he said.

Declawing isn't just clipping nails; it's more like removing kitty's fingertips. And here in this progressive, earth-friendly town it's considered against the laws of nature, and now it's against the laws of man.

"If your cat could talk - which they do - it would tell you: 'Don't declaw me,'" said a pet shop employee.

Owners of aggressive, destructive cats have their backs up.

"I stand firm on my position of saying I don't think anybody should tell me what I should do," said Robert Wankel.

If Wankel really wants the procedure done, he need only step across the border to Beverly Hills where the surgery isn't frowned upon.

Meanwhile back along Designers Row in West Hollywood, decorators adore the new law - and cats with claws.

"They know the difference between a cat post and a piece of silk furniture. Ha ha - they always go for the silk," said decorator Richard Kaleh. "We love cats."

Dogs in West Hollywood are pretty doggone happy, too. They hear bans on ear and tail cropping are next.