Monday Musing

Trimming Your Cat’s Nails

Trimming your cat’s nails is very important because as the nails become too long they can break which can lead to pain and infection.  Most cats are sensitive about having their paws handled which can make both owners and pets anxious and stressed.  It is beneficial to introduce kittens or adult cats to nail trimming slowly.  Be sure to take the extra time to familiarize your cat with having his/her paws and nails handled or massaged.  A kitten shouldn’t develop a fear if he/she is properly exposed to it in a positive manner at a young age.  Desensitizing older cats can take more patience, especially if they’ve had a negative experience in the past.

Start by introducing the clippers by getting your cat accustomed to the look, smell and sound.  When handling the paws you can hold the clippers in your hand and eventually start to touch the clippers to the paw while always providing positive reinforcement with praise and treats.  When you are ready to start the nail trim, do not try to trim all the nails at one time as you can gradually work up to that as your cat tolerates it more.  The goal is for your pet to associate the handling of paws and nail trimming with a pleasant outcome.

There are two types of clippers: guillotine and scissor type.  The Guillotine has a stationary hole where the nail goes through and the blade moves up to cut the nail when the handles are squeezed.  The Scissor works like a pair of scissors, opening them and putting the tip of the nail between the blades to trim.Nail trimming

How to trim:

  • Approach your cat calmly making sure you speak quietly.
  • Hold your cat in your lap or in a relaxed position (lying down).
  • Take one of your cat’s toes and massage, then gently press toe pad enough to extend the nail out.
  • With the nail extended, look for the pink part of the nail (“quick”). The quick contains a nerve and a blood vessel, cutting it is painful and will cause bleeding.
  • Carefully clip off the sharp tip of the nail, being careful not to cut too close to the quick, and release your cat’s toe.
  • Always provide positive reinforcement with praise and treats.

This article was written by Dr. Sean Lawes of Collingwood Veterinary Services.

Sean Lawes

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