December 8th, 2020

Marit Stiles introduces bill to ban cat declawing in Ontario

Queen’s Park – Davenport MPP Marit Stiles has tabled a new bill in the Ontario legislature that would amend animal welfare laws to ban the declawing of cats in Ontario.

“Cats are our cherished companions and are often treated as members of the family, but the practice of declawing can cause lifelong pain and discomfort,” said Stiles.

“Veterinarians and advocates have been drawing attention to this issue for years, and with better alternatives available, it’s long past time Ontario moved to ban this harmful and unnecessary practice.”

Unlike simply cutting a human’s nails, partial digital amputation, or declawing, removes the entire lower third phalanx bone of a cat’s paws, resulting in pain, discomfort and behavioural changes in cats. While a pet owner may be trying to protect furniture from scratching, the consequences of declawing often results in more disruptive behaviours like biting and marking.

Both the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association have said that non-therapeutic partial digital amputation is ethically unacceptable without comprehensive education for pet-owners about the impacts. A growing number of veterinarians refuse to perform the surgery at all.

Teddy's Law, named after the declawed cat of The Paw Project founder and veterinarian Gitte Fenger, would ban the practice outright in Ontario, except when deemed medically necessary by a veterinarian for reasons such as trauma or specific diseases.

“For many years, The Paw Project has been working with the public, policy makers and veterinarians to educate about the painful and crippling effects of feline declawing, to promote animal welfare and to end declaw surgery in jurisdictions around the world.” said Fenger “This legislation will bring Ontario in line with other provinces as leaders in animal welfare. It’s about time we got this done. Teddy would be proud.”

Dr. Kelly St. Denis, DABVP (feline practice):

“This legislation is long past due. While many veterinarians have made the ethical choice to stop declawing, we need legislation to put an end to this practice in Ontario once and for all. This is a critical step in advancing the welfare of our domestic cats.”

Michelle Groleau, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, Animal Welfare Committee:

"The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association views non-therapeutic PDA (declaws) as ethically unacceptable, as the surgery has the potential to cause unnecessary and avoidable pain."

Dr Karol A. Mathews, DVM, DVSc (Surgery), DACVECC, University of Guelph Professor Emerita:

“As a veterinarian, I have witnessed the lifelong pain and suffering that this non-therapeutic procedure can result in. It’s time to end this cruel practice as non-pain inflicted methods exist to allow for normal cat behaviour.”