Nova Scotia has become the first province to ban medically unnecessary cat declawing.

The ban — part of a worldwide movement against the practice — took effect Thursday after a three-month education period.

The Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association decided in December to amend its code of ethics to make the practice of elective and non-therapeutic declawing ethically unacceptable.

Veterinarian organizations in many other provinces are having active discussions on the issue.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association strengthened its stand against declawing domestic cats last March, saying the practice causes unnecessary and avoidable pain.

While some municipalities have enacted regulations against declawing, Nova Scotia becomes the first province or state in North America to declare the practice unethical.

The practice has already been banned in the U.K., Europe, Australia and several California cities.

"It's a great day. I'm so proud of the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association," Dr. Hugh Chisholm, a retired veterinarian who had pushed for the change, said after the association's decision in December.

"You are amputating 10 bones from 10 digits on the paws of a cat, and if that doesn't constitute mutilation, I don't know what does," he said.

For years, some pet owners have had their cats declawed to prevent scratches to furniture, people and other pets. But the Canadian vets association says scratching is normal behaviour that cats use to mark territory, help with balance, climb and defend themselves.

Chisholm said there will still be cases where declawing will be medically necessary.

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