The Montreal SPCA is inviting the public to join it in urging the Ordre des médecins vétérinaires du Québec (OMVQ) to ban the declawing of cats. Over thirty countries around the world no longer allow this practice, considered cruel and unjustifiable. In 2018, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island have all banned the procedure, and other provinces, including Alberta, Manitoba, and New Brunswick will be doing so shortly. Will Quebec join the movement?
"Quebec too, must ban this invasive and cruel surgery," asserts Élise Desaulniers, Executive Director of the Montreal SPCA. "In 2017, the president of the OMVQ, Dr. Caroline Kilsdonk, argued that the population was not ready for a ban on declawing, but that is not a valid excuse." The Montreal SPCA is therefore inviting the public to make it clear to the OMVQ that we are ready for such a ban by signing the petition launched today at spca.com.
A strong consensus
The consensus is clear. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) strongly opposes declawing, considering the surgery ethically unacceptable, as does the Association des techniciens en santé animale du Québec (ATSAQ) and the Association des étudiants en médecine vétérinaire du Québec (AEMVQ).
Moreover, many veterinary clinics and referral centers in Quebec now refuse to perform declawing for ethical and medical reasons. According to a recent survey published by the Association des médecins vétérinaires du Québec (AMVQ), 61% of all veterinarians and 88% of veterinarians aged 30 and under believe that the OMVQ should ban declawing.
Declawing or amputation?
"The term declawing is misleading, as the surgery consists of amputating the third phalanx of each of a cat’s toes. In fact, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association does not refer to this procedure as “declawing,” but rather as “partial digital amputation.” In human terms, this would be the equivalent of having the last knuckle removed from all ten fingers, "explains Dr. Gabrielle Carrière, head veterinarian at the Montreal SPCA. "The procedure can cause chronic pain and have long-term negative orthopedic and neuropathic consequences, including permanent nerve damage to the paws, difficulty walking, paw hypersensitivity, and lower back pain, regardless of the age at which it is performed."
Deprived of their main defense mechanism, as well as of the possibility of expressing several natural behaviours, such as climbing and perching in high places, declawed cats are more likely to develop behavioural problems than cats who have not undergone the surgery. Indeed, several studies indicate that declawing is a significant risk factor in the development of both litter box problems and aggression.
The public invited to put pressure on the OMVQ
In order to ensure that the OMVQ joins other provincial veterinary bodies by committing to ban declawing, the Montreal SPCA is encouraging the public to put pressure on the Order by signing the petition launched on spca.com.
"A ban on declawing would be the logical next step in the series of legislative changes related to animal welfare that have taken place in Quebec in recent years, including the adoption of the Animal Welfare and Safety Act, the recognition of animals as sentient beings with biological imperatives in the Civil Code of Quebec , and the OMVQ’s ban on tail docking and ear cropping, "explains Sophie Gaillard, lawyer and Director of Animal Advocacy at the Montreal SPCA.
For the Montreal SPCA, it is clear that the OMVQ must act without further delay to ban the practice of declawing in Quebec.
"I hope the Order will not keep us waiting and will instead act quickly,” states Elise Desaulniers. “In the meantime, I invite everyone to sign the petition that we are launching today to put pressure on the OMVQ. We cannot justify maintaining the legality of an invasive, cruel and unnecessary surgery on the simple assumption that "the population is not ready". With our petition, we aim to demonstrate that this argument does not holdup."