Climbing, hunting, running; all activities the wildcat relatives of our domestic cats use to help keep their nails in great condition. But with their very different lifestyles, what is the best way to look after our cat’s nails?
Why Is Nail Care Important?
Sharp tips on your cats claws can damage furniture, but this only a secondary consideration when thinking about whether to give them a trim or not. Sharp claws on your cat can hurt if your cat pads (or kneads) on you, which they often do when they are happy and content. This can be rather painful, especially for the elderly or on children.
Long sharp claws can also catch on the carpet, and while this may pull out a thread or two, it can also result in the claws breaking. If the claw breaks high up, it can be very painful for your cat.
How To Trim Your Cat’s Nails
Trimming your cats nails can be done at home with a little practice and a decent set of nail clippers. Small, cat sized clippers are available from most good pet stores. Your cat’s nails will grow into a point, and within the nail is the quick, or blood supply. This doesn’t reach all the way down but stops higher up. Look at your cat’s clear nails, you should be able to see the quick if you look closely. You want to cut below the quick so that it doesn’t bleed. To be safe however, have some styptic powder on hand just in case you cut it by accident.
Ideally you would want to get your kitten used to having their feet handled and claws cut from a young age. Start by just handling their feet, and reward them with treats and fuss when they are good. When your cat is used to this, start by nipping the end from one claw. Again reward them when they are good. To make the claw easier to clip, you can press down on the paw which will extend the claws outwards. The white or light tip is the only part you should clip, do not go too high.
Many cats will not tolerate having all their nails clipped in one go, but if you have to just do one or two a night to gradually get them done then that’s fine. If for any reason you accidentally cut the quick, apply styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Bear in mind that if you cut the quick it is painful; you may need to give your cat extra treats next time you try and cut their claws!
Clipping is much more humane than declawing. By removing your cats claws, you are not removing their urge to claw and scratch, instead you’re are putting them through a painful procedure just to protect the furniture. If instead you trim your cat’s claws you can minimize their risk of hurting both you and themselves; and to protect the furniture just invest in one of the many excellent scratching posts on the market. Your cat can soon learn where it can and cannot scratch.
If your cat finds having their claws clipped rather stressful, never punish them for their behavior. They will only learn to associate having their claws cut with a more unpleasant experience. Start slow and be encouraging rather than forceful.
Clipping your cat’s claws can be useful to prevent their sharp points getting caught on the carpet and injuring themselves, or from injuring you. Just remember that scratching is a very natural behavior for cats, clipping their claws will not stop this.