Cat Nail Care

Do the legs of your furniture bear the claw marks of your cat? Is scratching the furniture abnormal? If so, you may want to consider trimming your cat’s claws. When cats scratch, it is a normal part of behavior that is hard-wired into their genes. Many cat owners are finding that their feline friend’s nails can become a danger to their furniture and sometimes to their skin! But instead of the painful process of declawing your cat, I recommend learning how to effectively and painlessly clip your cat’s nails so they remain happy and will not harm you or your household items. Please see the healthy tips I have provided below that may assist you in caring for your cat in this way.

What To Look For

Rushing into a full-scale claw trimming is a foolhardy move unless you're really into operatic drama and traumatic events. As you well know, cats hate to be restrained. And they don't like you fooling with their paws! After all, their claws are a major tool for survival, and Kitty may consider your motives suspect.
This is where preparation comes to the rescue. For approximately a week before her manicure, get Kitty accustomed to having her paws handled. While petting and soothing her, start massaging her paws, especially on the under side. Gently press on the individual pads at the base of her claws. You may want to give her treats to reward her for not protesting (or as in the case of my own cat, to distract her from doing so). The point of course, is to make the process reassuring so that she will eventually feel comfortable enough to let you handle her paws without protest. It can be very helpful if someone in the family, or perhaps a friend offers to gently cradle a wiggly cat while you are focused on this exercise. The best time to trim your cat's claws is when she is relaxed or sleepy.
Next, be patient. Don't attempt to trim all Kitty’s nails at once. Trim one or two at a time, reward her with affection or food, and then let her do as she wishes. Cats are not strong on patience or restraint.

Healthy Tips

  • Start slow....Gently hold Kitty's paw in one hand and with your thumb on top of the paw and forefinger on the pad gently squeeze your thumb and finger together. This will push the claw clear of the fur so it can easily be seen. You will notice that the inside of the claw is pink near its base. This is living tissue that you do not want to cut. Trim only the clear tip of the nail.
  • Do not clip the pink quick, or the slightly opaque region that outlines it. This will prevent cutting into areas that would be painful or bleed. The desired effect is simply to blunt the claw tip. Many different types of nail trimmers are available in pet stores, but I find human toenail clippers easy and effective to use in the very small kitten.
  • Never try to give a pedicure right after a stressful experience or an energetic round of play.
  • Many people hold the clippers at right angles to the nail, thus cutting across the nail. This tends to make the nail more subject to splitting or fraying. It is better to hold the clippers in a vertical position--that is, up and down, so that the claw is trimmed from bottom to top instead of across the nail. This position helps prevent splitting.

Pat Mulford •