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How To Trim Cat Claws
The fact is, cats don't like getting their claws trimmed. This can cause apprehension, however, when done properly, you and kitty can escape harm-free.
I have had several cats throughout my life, and none of them have been declawed. Many of them have, however, scratched myself, the carpet, and the furniture up. I have had to face the decision on several occasions, whether or not to declaw. I have always decided not to, in favor of clipping their nails. After all, the idea of getting my own nails removed because someone else didn't like how sharp they were seemed ridiculous: I trim my nails, why not my cat's nails?
Required Supplies: Cat Claw Trimmer
For your cat's safety, please use a nail trimmer specifically meant for claws. Claws are different from human fingernails in that they are tubular (round), and ours are flat. Cat claws are similar to bamboo in that they are hollow in the center, and split lengthwise. Cutting your cat's nails would be like using scissors to trim a bamboo shoot; there runs a high risk of splitting. This can be incredibly painful for the cat if the split reaches the quick of the claw, and can cause bleeding. Avoid any chance of making yourself a sworn enemy to your cat, and use the proper tools.
Cat nail trimmers can be found anywhere where there is a pet section (grocery stores, drug stores, pet stores, department stores, etc) and are generally between five and ten dollars.You can also order them online from Amazon; here is the one I have:
The Proper Technique
It's important to hold your cat in a way which is comfortable to him or her. My cat doesn't mind being held upside-down in my lap, however, I have had cat's that were strictly "right-side-up" kitties. Be sure to adjust to the needs of your cat, or you may make a lifelong enemy.
I hold my kitty upside-down in my lap, with my forearm across his chest, and wrist up between his arms. I use my hand to hold the paw; the other hand I use to clip the nails.
I like to begin with the front claws, as these are the ones most often used. As I have yet to meet a cat that enjoys getting his/her claws trimmed, I can honestly say that many of my manicure clients have gone running before I was able to get to all their nails! Does your cat scratch furniture with his/her back claws? Does your cat swat with his/her back claws? Probably not. I would say that being able to trim the back claws is just an extra bonus, and a testament to how well-behaved your cat is.
To expose the claws, take the paw between your thumb and forefinger, so the pads sit on your forefinger, and your thumb sits on top the paw. Then, gently squeeze the paw, and the claws will be exposed. This is painless for your cat, so don't worry.
Be sure you squeeze gently and firmly while you hook the cat nail clipper around the claw; be sure the claw doesn't move, and the cat isn't squirming, before you make the cut: You could accidentally injure your kitty.
When trimming your cat's claws, be careful to avoid the quick. Unlike human fingernails, cats and dogs have "living" parts of their claws. This living part is called the quick, which serves the purpose to bring nutrients to the claw so it can keep growing. The quick can range in color from pink to red (and black if it has been injured and bled-out). Consider it a pocket of blood; if you cut it, it will hurt and it will bleed and your cat will be mad.
Leave at about 3mm, or 1/8 inch from the quick. Remember; you just need to dull the sharpness of the claws, not remove them. See the following diagram:
When and Where to Trim Your Cat's Claws
- Trim them about every 2 weeks, or every week if you see them actively sharpening their claws.
- Trim them when your cat is relaxed; have they recently eaten, or just woke up? If you don't mind disturbing their nap, you can always grab them as they are sleeping. These times are when cats are the most relaxed, meaning... The safest time to handle a creature with sharp claws is when it is not full of energy.
- Trim them in a place where the cat is comfortable. This is usually not the bathroom, garage, or kitchen. Trim them somewhere they feel comfortable enough to sleep, such as the bedroom or living room.
- Don't worry about catching the clippings in a garbage can; they vacuum easily. Holding your cat over a garbage can is usually more trouble than its worth.