Trimming cat claws without tears

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Cats scratch for a number of reasons, to stretch their muscles, wear their nails down and mark their territory. They do not scratch out of anger or retribution for something you’ve done.

Of course when the leg of your favorite chair is in shreds it is easy to take it personally.

Trimming your cat’s claws is not as hard as you might think. It is far easier than trimming the dog’s nails. No special equipment is required, no electronic gadgets or cumbersome clippers, just the nail clippers that you use on your own finger and toenails.

The other nice thing about cat claws is they are much finer than the canines’ and generally clear in color. This makes it very easy to clip without cutting into the quick and causing bleeding.

The hardest thing about this pedicure is just doing it. I don’t know why but it’s one of those things I tend to put off, even though it only takes five minutes, seriously.

Before you tip off the cat as to your intentions collect the items you will need, people clippers that cut cleanly, a bath towel and another person. Depending on your cat I recommend this be a two-person job.

Wrap the cat up in the towel tucking in all her little paws. Your assistant’s job will be to release one paw at a time to allow you to clip the nails.

I recommend beginning with the front paws. This way if you only get two paws done before losing the interest or cooperation of either your assistant or your cat you have smoothed the paws likely to do the most damage.

Gently squeeze the pad of the paw to extend the claws and quickly clip the tips. Less is best, especially until you are comfortable with it. The claw will most likely end in a point and it is this point that you want to trim off plus a smidge more. It’s difficult to say how much because each cat will be different, size, age, etc. What you want is a smooth, semi-straight claw that doesn’t curve back.

Do not forget the dew claw on the side! You do not want that often forgotten claw to curl back into the cat’s leg.

Tuck the first leg back in before releasing the second paw to be trimmed. This may take one or two times to get accustomed to but it does work and very well.

If your cat has had enough after the first two let him out of the towel. You can do the back legs later. The goal is to get your cat as comfortable as possible in having her nails done so don’t push it.

Many may ask, “Why not just declaw the cat?” Because it is an incredibly inhumane and painful thing to do to your favorite feline. The only exception would for a medical need such as tumors.

Declawing a cat may save your furniture from her shredding it but declawed cats have been known to stop using the litter box and more likely to bite.

The surgery is not simple or painless for the cat and is not the same as having your nails done at the salon. Declawing is the amputation of the last bone of each paw toe. Imagine having your fingers “trimmed” at the last knuckle. There are many different procedures but the end result is the same.

Each house with a cat should have at least one scratching post. Scratching posts used to be a carpeted 2 by 4 attached to a wooden base. These were not sturdy and few cats would use them. Your cat wants to be able to dig those claws in and pull. Which is why they use your furniture. The furniture is steady and doesn’t move.

In recent years new products, very reasonable in price, have come on the market. Cardboard scratching boxes. These vary in design and size, some are simple rectangles of corrugated cardboard that fit in a small box. Generally they come with a small bag of catnip to entice your cat to check it out.

We have these around the house for our cat Samantha. I put them in an area against a wall but there have been those times that Samantha has gotten into the scratching so much she shoots it across the tile floor. These are available at the pet supermarkets and their use can be extended by flipping the insert over when it gets too worn on one side. They really aren’t all that expensive, less than $10 but I am cheap and try to use everything up.

If you want to recycle — and we all need to — there are tons of different patterns online to make your own.

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