To declaw or not to declaw — that is the question. Nova Scotia is joining countless other locations in their pursuit to ban declawing, including the U.K., Europe, Australia, and many Californian cities. The ban will take effect on March 15, 2018, meaning declawing will only be done when deemed absolutely necessary. But what exactly is declawing?
Many think that declawing is simply the removal of the cats’ nail, and is often justified by the fact that cats have a tendency to scratch furniture, other pets, and sometimes their owners. However, it’s much more than just the removal of the nail; to effectively declaw a cat, vets remove not only the nail but the joint as well. This means that when you declaw your cat, you are giving them an unnecessary amputation. This can be harmful to the cat’s well being not just directly after the surgery, but for years to come. Not only is this procedure very painful right after the fact — as they are made susceptible to infection — but once the cat has (hopefully) fully healed, there are lifelong effects, many of which can be attributed to the fact that 60 per cent of the cat’s weight is carried on their front paws. Hugh Chisholm compared it to walking around like a “ballerina,” which can lead to things like back issues and bad behaviour. It is agreed by vets that this practice is unnecessary and detrimental to a cat’s health physically and physiologically.
With Nova Scotia’s ban, they will be the first in Canada to finally put this harmful practice to an end. With nearly 10,000 people in BC having signed a petition to do the same, they may also follow suit. This has caused many to say that Alberta should also ban the practice. Kären Marsden is a vet who is bringing the debate to the forefront here in Edmonton by saying that the province should also ban the practice. However, until then Marsden believes that veterinarians have a responsibility when someone comes in and says “I want to declaw my cat” to actually explain to them what that is. Hopefully this will discourage the practice for now.
Declawing cats is an inhumane practice that is on its way to being banned throughout the country. The question that remains is whether or not Alberta will be one of the first provinces to do so or not.