Clipping Your Cat’s Nails

Scratch marks on your curtains, couches, and even your arms are a common sight when you’re a cat owner. And since I’m not an advocate of declawing cats, the best way I can think of to deal with sharp cat claws is regular trimming and encouraging your cats to refrain from clawing on certain items.

Trimming a cat’s nails can either be no big deal, or a big production, depending on your cat and your attitude and state of mind. One of the best things you can do for you and your cat is to start them young. Begin trimming your cat’s claws when they are kittens.

Get Your Cat Used to Handling Its Feet

You will need to start working with your cat as young as possible. Don’t worry if your cat is now an adult. It will just take longer to acclimate your cat to handling its feet and nails. Just follow these same guidelines.

  1. Start off by gently holding your cat and stroking his paws. You want him to get used to being handled and having his paws touched and manipulated. Always give a treat when you do these exercises so they associate being handled with something pleasant. At all times, use lots of praise.
  2. As your cat gets used to having its feet handled, and is at ease with this, begin gently squeezing your cat’s paw to expose the nails. how to cut cat nails with human clippers Simply do this by using your thumb on top and your forefinger on the bottom of the paw and gently squeeze. This will cause the nails to stick out. Use praise and treats.
  3. Keep practicing this technique until your cat willingly lets you do this, and has no issues with it. You should practice how much pressure you need to exert on the paw to fully expose your cat’s nails without pressing too hard.
  4. Next, start playing with your cat’s nails. Simply handle the nails, hold the nail, and see what your cat will allow you to do. Don’t forget to use praise.
  5. Look at the nail carefully and note that toward the tip, the nail is a whitish or clear color. Further in, a bit toward the paw, you will see a pinkish color, called the ‘quick.’ That pink part is what you want to avoid when clipping the nails because it contains nerves and blood vessels. You just want to trim the very end of the nail to get rid of that super-sharp tip, just before the ‘quick.’ If you cut into the ‘quick’ of the nail, your cat will feel a lot of pain and the nail will bleed a lot. Your cat will be fine, but it will bleed heavily.

This part of training your cat to let you work on it’s nails may take a while. It may take a few days before you can move on to trying to trim the nails, or it may take several weeks. This depends on your cat, and on you. Very young kittens will adapt more quickly than an adult cat who has never had its nails trimmed before.

You also need to be confident and relaxed. You should not rush, and if you are very nervous about this, maybe another member of the family should be in charge of clipping your cat’s nails.

Trimming Your Cat’s Nails

To trim your cat’s nails, begin by doing the deed when your cat is in a relaxed state, not a wide-awake, playful state. I like to trim my cat’s nails when I see them just starting to settle down. If I’m gentle and quick enough, they barely budge during the whole process. You do not want to sneak up on them when they are sleeping to try to clip their nails, because this will startle them and they will lose some trust in you.

Be ready with extra special treats to give your cat during the trimming and afterward. You want your cat to associate nail clipping with something very positive.

  1. Be sure to use proper animal nail clippers that are sharp. You can have your cat on your lap or on a table or chair. Make sure you are both relaxed.
  2. Make sure you have towels and styptic powder, or a styptic pencil right where you are working.
  3. Gently take one paw and push on the pad to extend the nails, like you have been practicing.
  4. If you accidentally cut the ‘quick’, soothe your cat and use a styptic pencil or styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Make sure you have towels on hand too. Keep an eye on the nail over time to avoid infection.
  5. When you cut the nail, use the clipper perpendicular to the nail, and use a decisive, fast motion to avoid crushing or splintering the nail. If you are hesitant, your cat may squirm, and you may cut into the ‘quick.’
  6. Do this for all nails, including the dewclaw.

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