Cat nail trimming without a fight.

Cat nail trimming without a fight.

Cat nail trimming

Perhaps the most dreaded activity of any cat owner is trimming the cat’s nails. In fact, some cat owners dislike cutting their cat’s claws so much that they simply avoid the process altogether. After all, cats seem to hate it as much as people do, so why bother?

If a cat’s nails grow too long, however, they can split and break, causing the animal pain. In addition, long, sharp claws can damage furniture and may cause injury to humans. For these reasons, it is important to clip a cat’s nails regularly.

The good news is that cat nail trimming doesn’t have to be difficult. Try the following tips and tricks to make the practice easier.

How to clip your cat’s nails

1. Condition the cat so that it is used to having its paws handled. One of the reasons cats dislike having their nails trimmed is that they may not be used to having their paws handled by a human. Make a point to pet, touch and hold your cat’s paws while it is relaxed. Do this frequently so that the cat becomes accustomed to it. Never handle your cat’s paws when it is agitated. Consider these paw-handling sessions as practice for when you are actually going to cut the cat’s nails.

2. Set the right mood. Your cat should be as relaxed as possible when you trim its nails. The best time may be when it is groggy or sleepy, perhaps after the cat has eaten a meal.

3. Have the right tools. While human nail clippers will suffice in a pinch, it’s best to use clippers that are made specifically for cats. These typically come in two types: the “scissors” type and the “guillotine” type. Either kind works well, but some people prefer the scissors type only for when a cat’s nails have grown very long. The guillotine type is generally best for nails of a standard length. You should also have some styptic powder nearby.

4. Restrain the cat. To restrain the cat, place it in your lap. Drape your forearms over the animal’s neck and hindquarters while holding the clippers in your dominant hand. If you find this too difficult, you may want to try the “kitty burrito” approach. Wrap the cat in a blanket with only its head poking out. Then pull out its legs one by one as you deal with each paw. This will help prevent a struggling cat from scratching you.

5. Expose the cat’s claws. Since cats’ nails are retractible, you will need to squeeze each toe gently between your thumb and forefinger to expose the claw before you begin clipping.

6. Trim the cat’s nails one by one. Cats’ nails are generally transparent, so you should be able to see a pink stripe at the base of each nail. This is called the quick. It is important not to cut into the nail too far, as cutting the quick will cause the nail to bleed. Trim each nail within approximately 2 millimeters of the quick. If you clip the quick, don’t panic. Simply apply the styptic powder you have on hand to the cat’s paw. This should stop the bleeding.

7. When finished, reward the cat. If the cat begins to associate getting its nails clipped with receiving a treat, it will be more docile while you do so. Cat nail trimming can be something they don’t hate so much this way.

8. Repeat the process every 10 days or so. The more often you clip your cat’s nails, the easier it will be each time.

A word about nail covers/caps

Keeping your cat’s nails short can prevent you or your furniture from being scratched, but sometimes it isn’t enough. In these cases, you may want to consider using nail caps. These are plastic covers that go over your cat’s nails in order to blunt them. To apply them, you fill them partway with a non-toxic adhesive and hold them onto the cat’s nails for a few moments. The caps will not harm the cat and will not prevent it from retracting its nails naturally or from scratching and stretching. They fall off in about four to six weeks, at which time they need to be reapplied.

Cat nail trimming can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be painful for you, the animal or even your furniture. By following the instructions above, you can allow your cat to use its nails constructively, not destructively.

If you try to trim your cat’s nails and just cant get the hang of it or the cat is just too difficult to deal with your favorite Vet would be happy to do it or you. I recommend joining the Pet Assurance discount plan first and start saving on all your Vet visits.

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