cat's paw

Declawing cats is just like having your fingernails cut, right? Wrong!

Cats’ claws grow directly from the last bone of the toe, meaning the entire bone must be removed to prevent the claw from re-growing. Each toe – bone, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, skin and all – is severed at the first joint, making the procedure comparable to cutting off a human’s fingertips.

Surgical declawing has been controversial since it began 50 years ago – and no wonder. This inhumane and invasive procedure causes medical complications in up to 83% of cats. It can result in bleeding, lameness, chronic pain, and even severe long-term effects such as arthritis. In dozens of nations around the world, declawing is illegal. In fact, the procedure is only commonly performed in two countries: Canada and the US.

But animal advocates have finally managed to claw their way toward change.

This week, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) announced its new position against the declawing of domestic cats. According to the association, the surgery causes felines to suffer needlessly, and offers no advantage.

Hoping to raise public awareness to limit demands for the procedure, the association is distributing their new guideline on “non-therapeutic partial digital amputation” to its thousands of members across the country. But, ultimately, it’s up to veterinarians in each province to decide whether to ban the practice. The goal is to educate cat owners about the pain the operation causes felines – before and after surgery – which the CVMA now considers “unacceptable”.

In almost all cases, people declaw their cats to protect their furniture from scratches. A more humane alternative? Invest in a scratching post or slipcovers for your chairs and couches. You’ll save your upholstery from snags, and your cat from a great deal of suffering. The association also recommends using double-sided tape to protect furniture, as well as catnip, treats and praise to train a cat not to scratch.