NEWS
03/31/2016 07:14 EDT | Updated 04/01/2017 01:12 EDT

Declawing cats: Why one Toronto vet will no longer do it

Saying that it's a painful, unnecessary procedure that amounts to an "amputation," one Toronto veterinary clinic says it will no longer offer cat declawing among its services. 

In a statement on its website, the Bloor Animal Hospital says it has decided declawing isn't in the best interest of their feline patients. 

"This is a procedure that is not medically necessary, it does not benefit our patients in any way," said Dr. Suzanne Lyons in an interview on Metro Morning Thursday. "When we sat down to think about it, we just couldn't justify continuing to do such a procedure."

Lyons said de-clawing — which cat owners do to save their furniture from damage — amounts to an amputation. If done to a human, it would mean the removal of every bit of bone from knuckle to finger tip. 

"It's an amputation of every digit of the four limbs," she said. 

Lyons said although de-clawed cats can have "great lives," the procedure can also be painful and lead to complications post-surgery. 

Some alternatives

So what are the alternatives for cat owners?

Lyons has the following suggestions. 

A scratching post:  "If you introduce them at a young age, they'll probably take to one." 

Frequent nail trims: To minimize the damage.

Soft Paws A product Lyons describes as similar to "press-on nails for cats." Applied with glue, the soft plastic tips go over the cat's nails, making clawing impossible. "They're soft, they're comfortable and should your cat do that scratching behaviour, it won't damage your furniture," said Lyons.

Her clinic's website also suggests Feliway, a hormone that helps "decrease stress in cats" as a solution to clawing.

Lyons said declawing is coming under increasing scrutiny among her colleagues. 

"I think it's something more vets will take a stance on," she said.