As cat parents, there are certain chores we sign up for, but don’t exactly look forward to doing. Scooping and changing litter is top for me, but clipping their claws, tops the list for many cat parents. In this post we’ll take a look at, why you should trim your cat’s claws, why declawing is frowned upon, how to trim your cat’s claws, and alternatives to clipping their nails yourself.
There are two main reasons to trim your cat’s nails. The first reason is so when your sweet kitty is kneading you as she falls asleep, or when he is in a playful mood, you save yourself from the cute, but painfully sharp claws. Furniture may also be spared, although redirecting your cat to a cat tree, or scratch post should be easy enough.
The second reason to clip your cats nails is because short nails are less likely to split than long ones. Your cats nail can break from being stuck in any type of material, such as carpeting, or their cat tree. A bad landing can cause your cats nail to bend backward and break. This is especially true of older cats, whose nails are more brittle. Since the quick, ( medical term for nail bed), is attached to bone, preventing an infection is very important. Bone infections are serious, and only certain antibiotics are effective in treating them. Cats also shed their old claw sheaths. If their nails don’t get trimmed, or if they don’t have adequate opportunities to scratch on a cat tree, or scratch pad, the claws can grow so long that they curl, and pierce their paw pads.
Declawing a cat’s nails was once as common as having them spay/neutered, but has become one of the most controversial, and frowned upon practices among cat lovers. Check out this post for more on the declaw debate. If a human were declawed, it would be equal to cutting off each finger at the last knuckle. That certainly shines light on the gravity of the procedure. Some negative effects of declawing a cat include infection, tissue death, nerve damage, bone spurs, back pain, and possible regrowth of claws, not removed properly.
According to The Humane Society,the standard method of declawing is amputating with a scalpel or guillotine clipper. The wounds are closed with stitches or surgical glue, and the feet are bandaged. Another method is laser surgery, in which a small, intense beam of light cuts through tissue by heating and vaporizing it. The third procedure is the tendonectomy, in which the tendon that controls the claw in each toe is severed. The cat keeps their claws, but can’t control them or extend them to scratch. This procedure is associated with a high incidence of abnormally thick claw growth. No matter the procedure it can be agreed that with the many options such as trimming their nails, soft plastic caps, and toys such as scratch trees, declawing is an unnecessary procedure. Declawing is considered so inhumane, that Australia, Britain, and Los Angeles have banned the practice.
When it comes to clipping you cat’s claws, it’s best to start as close to kittenhood as possible. If your cat’s older, you can still ease them into getting comfortable with the sound of the clippers. According to pets.webmd.com, you can sit your cat on your lap, put a piece of uncooked spaghetti into the clippers and hold them near your cat. (If she sniffs the clippers, set a treat on top of them for her to eat.) Next, while massaging one of your cat’s toes, gently press her toe pad. When the nail extends, clip the spaghetti with the clippers while still holding your cat’s paw gently. Now release her toe and quickly give her a treat. The best time to attempt trimming your cats nails, is when kitty is groggy, or asleep. When your cat eats and begins to settle in for a snooze, or after an exhaustive play session, are usually the best times to approach them.
You can try sitting in a chair, or the edge of a bed, with kitty on your lap. I get Diesel when and wherever he’s asleep. I gently rub his toe, and apply a slight squeeze, so that the nail extends out. If you look at the nail, you will notice its clear and becomes a bit more cloudy as you go up the nail. You want to only snip the more clear part. When in doubt, less is more. If you accidentally cut the quick, any bleeding can be stopped with a styptic powder, or cornstarch. This is one chore, where being a perfectionist, or rushing will stress you and your cat. Patience is the key to success when clipping a cat’s nails. There are times I get one or two done one day, and by the weekend, Diesel’s claws are fully trimmed. If your cat’s a real “battle-axe”, try wrapping them in a towel or blanket, with his head and paw out.
Don’t forget, we live in a time when outsourcing just about any task is possible. Your local groomer, Petco, and some veterinary offices can clip your cat’s claws. An option that can be done in the comfort of home is a site like http://www.thumbtack.com. It may be worth the thought since keeping kitty in the comfort and familiarity of home, would make the project easier on all parties involved.
As you can see, keeping your cat’s nails trimmed is a vital part of their healthy upkeep. If you have any tips to add, or stories to share with us, feel free to comment. Don’t forget to share this post, so we can help other cat parents and their kitties.