Sunday, February 5, 2012

How to Clip Your Cats Nails

This can be really easy, or really hard, depending on your cat. It is something that is pretty easy to get even an older cat used to when done regularly and correctly. 

  • Play with your cats feet, push in the pads on their paws, get them to hold hands with you. Make having their paws touched an enjoyable activity. 
  • Start clipping nails at a young age.
  • If you have a cat that already objects to having it's nails clipped, wrap the cat in a towel and get another person to help you. Have one person hold the cat and the other person clip the nails or
  • If your cat doesn't mind having it's paws touched, but doesn't like being restrained, clip their nails while they're lounging somewhere. Tuco objects to having his nails clipped if I try to hold him, but has no problem if I clip them while he's stretched out on the back of the couch.
  • Use grain free treats as bribery to create a positive association for your cat.
  • Give your cat a break during clipping if needed. 

My cat nail clippers.

Sly, our volunteer.


cat nail clippers

a towel (if necessary)

a helpful friend (if necessary)

You'll want to restrain your cat in some way, but how depends on the individual cat. Your goals are to keep your cat as still and comfortable as possible and to get through the experience without any bites or scratches. The less traumatic it is for your cat, the better, it'll make it easier for you both the next time. Pick a small room where you can close the door, making it easier to give the cat treat eating breaks if needed.

Sly's paw pads.
Holding their paw, lightly press on the paw pad to extend the nail.

Press the paw pad to extend the claw.

In each nail there is a group of blood vessels and nerve endings called the quick. In light colored nails it is the visible red or pink part of the nail. The quick is present in dark colored nails as well, even though you can't see it. Clipping the quick will cause bleeding and pain. If you do nick it, scratch the nail on a dry bar of soap, or dab on some styptic powder or cornstarch to stop the bleeding. Pay attention and make sure the bleeding stops completely.

Cut nail with clippers, avoiding the quick.

Using your clippers, trim the nails one by one. Most of the time I only clip the front claws, but I check the back claws for any exceptionally sharp daggers or broken nails.

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