The College of Veterinarians of B.C. issued a notice on May 8 effective immediately that practitioners can no longer perform “elective and non-therapeutic Partial Digit Amputation, otherwise known as declawing or onychectomy, of domestic cats”.
B.C. is only the second province in the country to abolish the practice, besides Nova Scotia. The decision aligns with the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s condemnation of the act.
“The CVBC recognizes that elective and non-therapeutic declawing is ethically problematic and that it is not an appropriate means of dealing with feline behaviour issues," the college said in the statement.
There are exceptions to the rule; declawing can still be done for a few reasons, including biopsies, fungal infections, and various nail conditions.
Some pet owners declaw cats to prevent them from scratching furniture, rugs, curtains, and other household objects.
The BC SPCA, which has applauded the move, had long been calling on the college to ban feline declawing, saying it causes unnecessary pain and suffering. It
“Declawing a cat does not just remove the nails, it removes bones of the toes – comparable to amputating all of a human’s fingers at the last knuckle,” Dr. Emilia Gordon, senior manager of animal health for the BC SPCA, said in a release earlier this year.
Declawed cats, she said, are at higher risk for biting and aggression, are more likely to have trouble using the litterbox, and have an increased chance of back pain.
More than 60 percent of declawed cats experience abnormal bone growth where the toes had been cut, Gordon noted.
Declawing is prohibited in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and parts of Europe.