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Nova Scotia is the First Province to Ban the Declawing of Cats

Over the past few years, there has been a growing movement around the world to outlaw the declawing of domestic cats.

Yesterday, Nova Scotia became the first Canadian province to officially ban the practice. The decision was first announced last December and took effect on March 15th after a three-month grace period.

“I see declawing as a mutilation of an animal for no direct benefit to the animal. It’s something that’s done mostly to protect furniture,” said retired veterinarian Hugh Chisholm in an interview with the CBC. “It would be the equivalent to you taking a very sharp knife and cutting off your finger at the last knuckle joint.”

According to PETA, clawing is a natural, healthy and important behaviour for cats. Cutting their claws can cause arthritis and contributes to difficulty walking. It also leaves them more vulnerable to predators outside of domestic settings.

Declawing has been designated as illegal or extremely inhumane and only performed under extreme circumstances in 28 countries, including England, Australia, and Germany. Many veterinarians in the United States refuse to do the procedure.

The penalties for refusing to obey the new law could be harsh. “As a veterinarian you could face pretty strict punishment, including loss of your licence to practice,” said Chisholm. While he believes that “one declaw is one too many,” some argue that an all-encompassing ban ignores special instances where declawing may be necessary. These instances include patients taking medication that weakens their immune systems, like chemotherapy, being scratched, or rare cases where cats self-mutilate.

While a federal ban on the practice has not been discussed, other provinces are pushing for legislation similar to that in Nova Scotia. A petition in British Columbia to to stop declawing cats in BC has already garnered more than 80,000 signatures.

Christian Nathler

Christian Nathler is a contributing writer at Notable Life.