Declawing cats should be banned in Canada, Edmonton vet says

1 / 2

Feline visits: The 'purrfect' therapy for Regina seniors

Feline visits: The 'purrfect' therapy for Regina seniors

It's a topic that can cause catfights between pet owners: is declawing cats inhumane?

One Edmonton veterinarian refuses to declaw cats, and wants the practice to be banned in Canada.

Kären Marsden is one of thousands of people who don't support declawing cats. Nearly 10,000 people have signed a petition in support of banning the practice in B.C.

"I just feel like this is going to happen," Marsden told CBC's Radio Active on Friday. "I don't know many vets myself personally who do that procedure anymore. I'm surprised actually that Canada hasn't banned it."

Nova Scotia is the first province to ban the declawing of cats, with the rule coming into effect in March.

The practice is prohibited in countries across the globe, including several European nations.

Marsden said she hopes to see a ban come into effect in Alberta and the rest of Canada, as removing a cat's claws can cause chronic pain and behavioural problems.

"People often think that that's what you do so your furniture isn't scratched," she said. "But it's actually an amputation of their digits. You're not removing the claw, you're removing the whole joint," she said.

"It's like if you had a puppy and you came in and you were like 'I don't really want to cut his nails, let's just take the toes off. It's exactly the same thing."

At the start of her career, Marsden said she used to declaw cats — but she wasn't happy about it.

"I spent a lot of time educating people on what was happening because they actually didn't understand," she said. "And then they often opted for other options."

Those options include scratching posts, claw covers or spending a few dollars a month on professional claw clippings.

Marsden wants to see more vets encouraging pet owners to try those alternatives.

"Veterinarians have a responsibility when someone comes in and says 'I want to declaw my cat' to actually explain to them what that is," she said.

She said a lot of people aren't aware of the incisions, bandages and pain meds that are part of the procedure, which can make it difficult for cats to walk properly.

Marsden said more cat owners need to understand that scratching is a natural behaviour.

"It's part of having a cat," she said. "You don't need to take its toes off."

Listen to Radio Active with host Portia Clark, weekday afternoons on CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM/740 AM in Edmonton. Follow the show on Twitter: @CBCRadioActive.