How to Safely Trim a Cat’s Nails
By: Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Oct 31, 2016
In this tutorial, Dr. Greenway demonstrates how to safely trim a cat’s nail as well as offers tips on how this can be done in a way that is most comfortable for both pet and owner. Topics covered in this video are nail trimmers, importance of praise as well as nail clipping techniques including how to handle the paw and the area in which to cut the nail.
I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway with healthcareforpets.com and we’re going to show you how to trim your cat’s nails. The first thing I want you to think about is the earlier you start with this, the better accepting your cat’s going to be of it. So the first thing you want to do is try to think of it in terms of going through it slowly. You’re going to want to try to trim one nail if your cat has never had a nail trim by you before.
The first thing I want you to think about is to go slow. You’re going to want to trim just one nail, on one paw, and then reward with treats and stop for the day. Then the next day try a different nail. By easing into it like this, it’s less stressful. Trying to do all the nails in one sitting if your cat is not used to it, is going to frustrate it greatly and make it more difficult and potentially give it a bad experience that it’s going to remember for future nail trims.
Getting to the nails is an important part of this. You don’t want to pull an arm all the way out because that tends to make animals draw their arm back in very closely. So what you want to do is you want to put them down in a bit of a hunched position and come over top of them and come in close. You want to make sure that your cat is generally accepting of this and you don’t want to take any safety risks. Keep in mind your cat may like you most of the time but once you start to do something like this with it you might be crossing some boundaries and it could bite or scratch you and you really want to make sure that your safety is protected. Speak to your veterinarian about that or have the nail trims performed by them if that’s the case.
So first what I do is I will lift the paw and by pushing the paw and squeezing it you’ll notice that the claws come out and if you look at each nail it gets very, very narrow and sharp at the end of it, it starts to come in towards the body and then it starts to widen. The place where you really want to trim the nail is right where it starts to transition from narrow to wide and you don’t want to hit the part that has a very pink tint inside of it because that’s the quick, and that’s where it’s going to bleed. So what I do is I bring my nail trimmers very close so that I’m not pulling the arm out to create the need for the cat to pull it back in, I’ll squeeze the toes to push the nail out and then I’ll just put my trimmers around the nail and give it a little clip.
You’ll notice that Marble tried to use her back leg to get my hand away which is fine. You have to remember it’s still going to be a little bit of a struggle. Your cat may not want to do this but you have to have a firm heart and be confident with it because if your cat fights you and you give up, it means that it knows it can win and it’s going to try to fight harder the next time. So be careful and cautious but be firm so that you can accomplish it and you can accomplish it safely with a good experience.
If you have a cat that’s more difficult, you can watch our video about restraining techniques to help you out. You may want to talk to your veterinarian about things you could give your cat to lessen its anxiety or even sedate it if it’s absolutely necessary. Remember to always reward them at the end of it so they know that it was a pleasant experience and that in the future they’ll be more accepting of it. Good luck trimming your cat’s nails.
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