The Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association has agreed to further discuss cat declawing, a move watched closely by many in the cat community who have been spurred by a campaign and petition to ban the practice.
The association held its annual general meeting on Nova Scotia's South Shore over the weekend and one of its members tabled a motion to ban the procedure except when it's medically necessary.
Veterinarians who attended the meeting decided to take more time to review declawing, known as an onychectomy, and wait for an upcoming study from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.
Sarah Fraser, the Harrietsfield woman who created the anti-declawing petition in July, said the practice is archaic and inhumane. She has repeatedly called on the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association to make Nova Scotia the first province in Canada to ban declawing for domestic cats.
"It's quite an intrusive procedure. It's not as easy as everybody thinks," she told CBC News on Monday.
"It is quite a painful procedure because it's an amputation of the third digit. It would be like the equivalent of our amputation to the first knuckle of our hand."
Fraser, who owns nine cats, said the pain of declawing can last for life, may alter a cat's personality and cause them to bite in place of scratching.
More than 1,280 people had signed her petition as of Monday afternoon.
But many veterinarians, including Dr. Markus Stasiulis at the Vetwise Animal Hospital in Dartmouth, say much of the opposition is based on emotion, not science.
"I personally have no problem with people that want to have their cats declawed, largely because I have a long, long history where owners are very, very pleased with the results," he said.
Stasiulis said he's declawed hundreds of cats in the years he's been practising and it's even made some aggressive cats more docile. He said procedures for declawing have improved, pain can be managed and he said outdoor cats can live comfortably without their front claws.
It's expected Nova Scotia's veterinarians will be called to a special meeting in the spring to vote on the future of declawing domestic cats in the province.
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association's position is that it "strongly discourages" declawing of domestic cats for routine purposes.
"Surgical amputation of the partial digit prevents cats from expressing normal behaviours and causes pain," the association said.
"Veterinarians should inform clients of the potential negative consequences of declawing and educate them about tools and techniques available to prevent and minimize personal and property damage so that the procedure may be avoided."