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How to Trim a Cat’s Nails

Cats extend their claws to hunt and climb trees. They are also used to mark territories, by scratching. When sharpening his/her claws, the cat releases pheromones in order to leave a trail on his/her surroundings. This practice can cause damages to your furniture. However, should you trim the claws of your cat or Trim a Cat’s Nails?

What is a claw?
The cat’s claw is made up of two parts: the keratinized part formed by a superposition of horny layers, and nail pulp in the center, which contains the nerves and the blood vessels. The cat has 4 toes on each his/her hind legs and 5 toes on the front ones. This fifth toe is called a dewclaw, corresponding to our thumb. These dewclaws allow the cat to climb.

Cat claws are retractable, which means they are viewable only when they are extended (hunting, climbing, self-defense …) thanks to the flexor tendons. Hence, they usually don’t touch the ground and don’t naturally wear out as they do for dogs. It is therefore necessary for them to sharpen their claws to maintain them.

Is it necessary to trim a cat’s claws?
Overall, it’s not necessary to trim your cat’s claws, but it depends on your pet’s lifestyle (outdoor or indoor). … When aging, cats become less active. In such a case, it is important to trim their claws which can get a longer, curve, and penetrate into the pad, sometimes causing an infection.

Why do cat’s nails need to be trimmed?
Highly discouraged by Dr. Hanen Abdel Rahman, the declawing of cats is eschewed by most people for humane reasons. But no one wants shredded furniture and threadbare rugs. The only safe and effective alternative is trimming a cat’s nails regularly. It’s quick and easy, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a pro in no time. Also, don’t forget the cat trees, scratching posts, trays, or pads that keep your cat entertained and quench his innate desire to scratch.

Start slow and be prepared
You may be thinking, “yikes, the last thing I want to do is trim my cat’s nails.” But like many things cat-related, assessing your cat’s state of mind before heading in for a pedicure is vital and will make or break the deal. Then again, some cats are laid-back and up for anything. According to Dr. Hanen Abdel Rahman, you should ideally wait until he’s had a meal and feels a little groggy and relaxed. The trimming session has the best chance for success with no distractions, so find a quiet, windowless room away from other pets and people, where you can settle into a comfortable chair with your cat sitting on your lap facing away from you.

When you first introduce nail trimmings into your cat’s life, take as many preliminary sessions every other day as needed getting her used to you handling her paws before you actually trim a nail. Slowly and gently touch and caress each toe on each paw, carefully observing her body language. If her ears go back or rotate to the side aka “airplane” ears or tail tip starts flipping sideways, stop until she relaxes again. Continue handling and pressing the paws gently to expose the nails, giving a treat each time you release. Next, get her used to the sound of the clippers by cutting a piece of spaghetti as you hold her paw gently pressing and exposing the nail. When she’s comfortable after a week or so with the routine, it’s time to trim the tip of just one nail.

Simple steps and pro tips for trimming your cat’s nails
Remember, only patience and practice will hone your nail-trimming skills. and don’t trim all 18 nails (one on each of five toes on each front paw and four toes on each back paw) at the same time. Instead, trim one or two today, another couple tomorrow, and so on until they’re all done. Let’s get started:

  • Cutting a cat’s claws requires a steady hand and a sharp cutting tool such as specially made clippers that hold a cat’s paw in place, guillotine- or plyers-style clippers, or even toenail clippers made for people. Blunt tools can break the nail and cause pain so keeping your tools well-maintained is essential. Only cut the white tip of the nail off, erring on the side of caution and cutting less than more. Have some styptic powder or stick, cornstarch, or a dry bar of soap on hand to stop bleeding in case you inadvertently cut below the quick, or pink part, of the nail which contains the blood vessels.
  • Your cat should be sitting in your lap facing away from you just as in your practice sessions. Gently hold one of her toes in your hand, massage, and press the pad to reveal the nail. Trim only the sharp, white tip of one nail, quickly release the toe and give her a treat. Forge ahead and do another nail if your cat seems unconcerned. Otherwise, stop, give another treat, and continue in a day or two. Until your cat is comfortable with the trimming routine, don’t trim more than a couple of nails at a time. Always end the trimming session with a special treat and lots of praise and snuggles.