Friday, March 16, 2012

Caring for Your Cat — Trimming a Cat's Claws

Learning how to trim cat claws is fairly straightforward but actually doing it can present a challenge. However, despite the difficulties, it is important to trim your cat’s claws regularly. It helps prevent damage to your furniture, keeps the cat in good health, and saves you money since you won’t have to run your cat to the groomer as often.

Preparing to Trim Your Cat's Claws

Cats can be finicky things. If you want to be able to trim your cat’s claws quickly and easily, you should first help him (or her, as the case may be) adjust to having his feet handled. Start by gently massaging your cat’s feet every day. If your older cat has never had the opportunity to get used being handled in this manner, it may take a couple of weeks before he is calm enough for you to attempt to cut a claw or two.

You’ll want to purchase a set of clippers specifically designed for cats; there are many cat nail trimmers on the market. Those made for dogs are usually too large for your feline. If you have to, use a set for very small dogs. You can also use human nail clippers if you have to, but these are not as effective as cat clippers. Whatever you use, make sure the clippers are sharp. A dull pair of clippers will only crush the claw and possibly cause pain to your cat.

You’ll also want something to stop the bleeding, just in case you cut the nail too short. A styptic pencil works well, as do nitrate sticks or potassium of permanganate. You can usually find at least one of these products at your local pet supply shop. If you don’t have any of these items, a tiny bowl of household flour will work just as well.

Before you start clipping your cat’s claws, wrap him in a towel or blanket, leaving only his head free. This will keep him from scratching you if he objects to having his nails trimmed. If your cat is calmed by the use of peppermint, consider adding a single drop to the cat’s head. Seat yourself and take a firm grip of your cat. Free one paw from the towel and prepare to trim a few claws.

Trimming Your Cat’s Claws

Hold the cat’s paw firmly in your hand. To make things easier on you and more comfortable for your cat, you should put your fingers on the underside of the paw and keep your thumb on top. Your cat will probably squirm, so hold on tight.

Using your thumb, gently apply a forward pressure to one toe only. This will cause the claw to move out of its sheath, making it visible. Apply pressure until the claw is completely exposed. This will keep you from accidentally cutting the cat’s paw.

Look closely at the claw, and you will notice that there is a faint pink center. This is called the quick and is full of blood. If you cut into the quick, the cat will be hurt and even begin to bleed. It is important that you do not touch the quick with your clippers. If you do happen to cut the quick, use the styptic pencil or flour to help stop the bleeding. Just dip the bleeding claw into the flour, or use the styptic pencil according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Snip off the end of the claw between the tip and the quick. Do this quickly so your cat doesn’t get too upset. If necessary, cut only one or two claws at a time, allowing your cat to calm down between each session. You can also attempt to cut your cat’s claws when he’s asleep, but this can potentially make your cat very angry if he wakes up during the process. This is only recommended if your cat is a deep sleeper and unlikely to attack you if he catches you clipping his claws.

In general, it is best if you only trim your cat’s front claws. The back claws will usually wear down naturally and do not require trimming. If you do decide to trim the back claws, the same method applies. For optimum results, trim your cat’s claws every four to six weeks.

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