A Step In The Right Direction: Canadian Vet Association Now Opposes Declawing Cats April 07 2017

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has made it clear on it's stance against declawing domestic cats, stating the operation causes unnecessary pain and extreme stress on cats. 

"It is evident that felines suffer needlessly when undergoing this surgery as an elective measure," Dr. Troy Bourque, the association's president, said last week.

"The CVMA views this surgery as unacceptable as it offers no advantage to the feline and the lack of scientific evidence leaves us unable to predict the likelihood of long-term behavioural and physical negative side-effects."

The CVMA is sending the new guideline on what it calls "non-therapeutic partial digital amputation" to its 7,000 members across Canada. It also hopes to raise public awareness to reduce demand for the procedure.

The bad news is, it is up to veterinarian regulators in each province to make their own decision on whether to ban the practice of declawing or not. Personal views and local demand for the procedure could play a huge role in their decision making. Since it is not against the law, vet regulators are not obligated to put a stop to the practice.

Those opposed to the procedure know what the operation entails, and the pain and stress it can cause. Dr. Sherlyn Spooner, who helped develop the policy, likened declawing to a person having the tips of their fingers cut off at the first joint.

Can you imagine have all the tips of your fingers and maybe even toes cut off? How painful that would be? You would also have to re-learn how to use your hands, how to hold things and write. You'd struggle to walk with your balance being affected from losing half of your toes. Rather cruel if you ask us!

The associations position on the matter could cause some backlash with supporters of the procedure. Supporters of declawing say there is nothing wrong with the operation as long as it is performed properly under anesthesia, and the cat is looked after. 

Most pet owners that decide to have their cats declawed do it to prevent scratches to furniture, people and other pets. They believe that domesticated cats no longer need their claws for protection, and can function fine without them. 

The CVMA disagrees, stating that it causes problems with balance and that scratching is a normal behaviour for cats. They do it to mark their territory, and need their claws for climbing and exploring. Cats know how to retract their claws and will generally not scratch a human unprovoked. They enjoy scratch pads as a part of their daily routine; it tends to sooth and satisfy their needs.

Dr. Sherlyn Spooner said "declawing is less common in Canada than it used to be, but there is still demand for the operation and veterinarians who are willing to do it. If people understood how declawing affects cats, including pain before and after surgery, they wouldn't have it done". 

"We strongly oppose it because from an ethical viewpoint, the surgery is unacceptable. It offers no advantage to the cat," Spooner said from Pointe Claire, Que.

"I have seen perfectly wonderful kittens get declawed and become aggressive."

The new policy calls on veterinarians to educate owners on the alternatives to declawing such using spray on cats to deter them from scratching furniture, and catnip, treats and praise to train a cat not to scratch.

Declawing has been banned in many countries like the UK, Australia and Europe. A huge push to prohibit declawing has gained some traction around the world. People are becoming more aware of the cruelty, and want their governments to put a stop to it. 

Let's hope Canada and the US are next!