A veterinary procedure criticized for being inhumane could soon be outlawed altogether in one state. As NBC New York reports, a bill that would ban declawing cats has been approved by one committee in the New York State Assembly, but it still has a few more rounds of voting to go before it becomes law.

If passed into law, Bill A01303 will make cat declawing punishable by a fine up to $1000. The Assembly's agriculture committee advanced the legislation on April 30, and if it's approved by a second committee, it will move on to a full vote.

While some pet owners think of declawing as a simple procedure like trimming your fingernails, animal activists warn that it's actually a drastic surgery. To remove the nails completely, vets must amputate a cat's toes down to the first knuckle. It changes the way a cat's foot meets the ground, it can make walking permanently uncomfortable for them.

The Humane Society of the United States opposes declawing except in rare cases where it's medically necessary. But not all animal experts agree: New York's largest veterinary association doesn't support the new bill, saying that declawing should be permitted as a last resort on cats with destructive scratching habits.

If New York passes the bill, it will become the first state in the U.S. to ban cat declawing. The practice is already illegal in many countries, including the UK, Brazil, Australia, and France.

[h/t NBC New York]