ST. LOUIS — St. Louis officials on Friday voted to ban local veterinarians from declawing cats, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. 

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted 21-1 for an ordinance to end the practice among St. Louis vets. 

Declawing a cat involves slicing through bone to amputate the first segment of a cat's toes. The operation was once commonly performed to protect furniture and human skin from feline scratching but has in recent years come under scrutiny by animal welfare advocates, cat owners and many vets.

Democratic Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia has said the procedure can be painful. She said cat owners sometimes declaw cats to prevent them from scratching, but Ingrassia said there are alternatives to address those issues. 

The bill includes an exception for medically necessary procedures. Declawing is sometimes needed to treat infections or tumors in nail beds, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

New York became the first U.S. state to ban the declawing of cats in July, joining most of Europe, several Canadian provinces and a growing list of American cities that already prohibit a procedure animal advocates call cruel and unnecessary.