Based on a successful online petition calling for a ban on declawing, Moscow lawmakers have advanced a proposal that would protect cats from this painful surgery on the owners' whim.

If approved by the Lower House, the bill would prohibit veterinarians from performing declawing surgeries unless they're necessary for medical reasons, such as the removal of cancerous nail bed tumors. Currently, some owners declaw their cats to keep them from scratching people and ruining furniture.

Declawing, or onychectomy, is a surgical procedure that removes the claws on either both front feet or all four on a cat, by cutting off the last toe joints. If performed on a human being, declawing would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.

Veterinarians say declawing causes long-term damage to the paws and causes lifelong pain and behavioral problems.

Recently, declawing without medical necessity was outlawed in many European countries and in several provinces in Canada.

Last year, Russia issued legislation which prohibits killing, pitting animals against each other in fights, and other forms of mistreatment of animals. The law also requires owners to take good care of their pets, and bans petting zoos in malls, as well as keeping animals at bars and restaurants. The bill was submitted to the State Duma in 2010 and has taken almost eight years to be finalized by lawmakers.