Do you trim your cat’s nails? Here’s why you should.

Tigers keep their nails sharp by scratching tree trunks, and like their larger cousins, cats do the same. When cats scratch poles, tree trunks, and even furniture, they not only mark the surface with their scent, but they also remove the old, worn layers of their claws to expose fresh, sharp claws ready to pounce on the world.

Although cats keep their claws in good shape, razor-sharp claws are not enough in the home. With all the soft surfaces and human skin in the house, overly long claws can cause problems for the cat. While cats still need their claws, it’s important to help them keep them at a reasonable length. This means that you and a pair of scissors must step in to save the tissue and flesh.

Trimming your cat’s nails may seem like a challenge, but with patience and positive reinforcement, you and your cat will quickly become nail trimming pros. This important task helps prevent injuries to your cat’s paws caused by long claws that get caught on soft surfaces. Also, when a cat’s claws are allowed to grow, they tend to curl into sharp daggers that can penetrate the soft pad of the paw and cause pain.

Shadi J. Ireifej, DVM, DACVS, of VetTriage, also points out that “overly long claws are not only uncomfortable for the cat but also make them more prone to inappropriate behaviors, such as scratching doors, furniture, and other household objects or surfaces.”

How often should your cat’s nails be clipped?
While experts recommend a frequency of 10 days to 2 weeks to trim your cat’s claws, it really depends on your cat’s claws. Dr. Ireifej suggests, “There is no specific guideline for when a cat’s claws should be trimmed because each cat has a different growth rate, but over time you can estimate how often it should be done.”

If it’s been a long time since the last trim, you’ll know it’s time to do it when your cat feels her paws sticking to furniture or carpets because her claws are stuck.

But where do you start when it comes to trimming your cat’s claws?

Nail clippers or nail grinders

First of all, you have to choose between nail clippers and nail grinders to trim your cat’s nails.

For nail clippers, you can opt for scissors, guillotine nail clippers, or even human nail clippers, as cats’ nails are small enough to fit between the blades. It depends on your preference, but the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine recommends using a guillotine or human nail clippers to trim cats’ nails more easily, and using scissors “when a toenail is so long that it curls into a circle.”

Some cats don’t mind having their nails trimmed at all and politely wait for the reward they know they’ll get in the end. Other cats can be a nightmare when they see the clippers coming out and fight with all their might to escape. For cats who are frightened by the sight or sound of nail clippers, a nail grinder or file can be used instead.

The grinder gently grinds the nail, blunting the sharp end to a blunt length that prevents the cat from clinging to the sofa or your fur. But if the noise or vibration of the grinder bothers your cat’s sensitivity, try a simple nail file. Simply take a nail file and give your cat a manicure.

How do you trim your cat’s nails?

Well, you already have the cat and the nail clippers, so let’s start clipping!

Step 1: Make Everyone Comfortable
Some cats will sit on your lap for a trim. Others need to be coaxed and can be bribed with affection and treats. Finally, there are the cats that could be described as difficult. How do you clip a cat’s claws when it doesn’t want to? By being very careful.

Seriously, if your cat is agitated while you are clipping her claws, wrap her in a towel or blanket to gently restrain her. Simply remove one paw at a time from the wrap. This type of restraint can also help your cat be calmer.

You can even get another person to help you trim your cat’s claws: one person will hold the cat while the other trims it.

Step 2: Prepare the paw
While holding one of your cat’s paws in your hand, select a finger and gently push it forward with your thumb to expose the claw. You may notice a sharp white tip and a pink center closer to the paw. It is this small white tip that needs to be cut off. The cut will be so small that you will think you haven’t cut anything.

But before you start cutting or sanding, let’s talk about the pink part inside the claw. Be careful not to cut this very delicate part of the nail. This soft tissue is rich in nerves and blood vessels and causes pain when penetrated. Imagine cutting the bed of your nails. Yes, the nauseating pain you imagine is the same pain your cat feels when you cut the tip of her nail.

If you accidentally cut your nail tip, sprinkle the styptic powder on the bleeding tip. If you don’t have styptic powder, use flour, cornstarch, or even a bar of dry soap to stop the bleeding.

Step 3: Create the clip
Okay, you’ve learned where to clip your nails and you’ve carefully studied the instructions on your nail clipper(s). Your cat is relaxed in your hand, and you’ve identified the safe area of the quick zone on your cat’s nail. That’s what it comes down to. Place the blades and give them a quick, firm squeeze. Repeat on all those cute little toes and paws, including the back legs.

Don’t forget the claws! Because the dewclaws are located on the inside of the front paws, they can be difficult to trim. You will need to move the dewclaw away from the paw, but be careful not to cause discomfort by stretching the paw to reach it.

Step 4: Love and Reward
After trimming the nails, reward your kitten with hugs, kind words, and lots of treats.

If you don’t feel up to trimming your cat’s nails, make an appointment to have them cut. While you’re there, ask your doctor or veterinarian to teach you how to trim your cat’s claws.

Tips for trimming your cat’s nails

– Don’t put the clippers on for the first time when trimming. Leave them in a place where your cat can see and examine them. Take the mystery out of it and make it a happy story. This will help your cat learn that clippers are not a tool to torture him.
– Encourage your cat to accept paw manipulation with frequent massages. When cats are used to having their paws touched regularly, it’s easier for them and you to use the clippers.
– Choose a quiet place for your cat’s nails, away from other pets. Make sure your home has plenty of light – those claws are small to look at!

– Try different positions if your cat squirms during the pedicure. She may prefer to lie on her side rather than in your arms.
– Try clicker training to reinforce positive associations when trimming your cat’s nails.
– Start early. The earlier your cat gets used to having her nails trimmed, the easier it will be for her when she’s older.
– The time of day to trim should be a quieter time of day for your cat. Choose a time when your cat is normally relaxed, rather than a time when she is playing with a lot of energy. To keep your cat comfortable during the grooming process, provide fun activities beforehand.
– Treats are a must.
– Catnip makes everything better.

Although a daunting task, trimming your cat’s nails is one of those simple but necessary tasks that will ensure a good life together with your cat.

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