A Nova Scotia woman wants the province to become the first in Canada to ban declawing for domestic cats.

Sarah Fraser, who rescues felines, says the practice is archaic and inhumane. She's started a petition calling on the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association to ban the practice except when medically necessary.

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Cricket poses with her Soft Claws, plastic caps that are glued over a cat's existing nails and fall off when they naturally shed their claws. They are billed as a painless alternative to declawing. (Cassie Williams/CBC)

"It is very painful and it's intrusive," Fraser said. "It's not actually just a removal of a claw, it's an amputation of the first digit of each of the cat's toes."

The petition has garnered close to 700 signatures in two weeks.

Fraser has nine cats, all with claws.

"It would be like saying I want to have a baby but I never want it to cry," said Fraser. "It's a cat's nature to claw."

Professional debate possible

Several veterinarians in the province have already opted out of the practice.

Dr. Markus Stasiulis said the debate needs to be based on research, not public opinion.

He said the surgery has evolved, making it less painful for cats and a faster recovery.

"Numerous studies were done to show that the procedure does not alter behaviour in a manner that is detrimental to the cat," he said.

At his Dartmouth clinic, Stasiulis recommends people with medical issues, including blood disorders, have their cats declawed for the safety of the owner.

He's declawed his own cats.

Dr. Frank Richardson, the registrar of the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association, said Fraser's petition has sparked debate in the industry.

He said the issue could come up at the next annual general meeting in November, but it would be up to a member to raise a motion to add it to the agenda.