By Dr. Becker
Trimming kitty nails is quite a bit different from doing the same for a dog.
Cats have retractable claws, for one, and they don't always appreciate someone applying a bit of gentle pressure to their toes to expose the claws.
Also, cats are very sensitive to the energy around them, and if there's tension or nervousness in the air, their first instinct is to bolt. If a cat who wants to bolt is being held, he may try to claw his way free. Some very determined kitties can be nearly impossible to restrain, in fact.
Step One: Center Yourself
The best way to start the nail trim is to make sure you're calm and not nervous, because your emotional state will be transmitted to your pet.
Step two is to have someone assist you – a cat cuddler. Cuddling kitty during a nail trim is a must-do. It keeps your cat from bolting and makes her feel a bit more secure. Most dogs can be distracted by treats. They become so focused on the little snack they hope to get that they barely notice their nails being clipped.
But the majority of cats don't respond to treats as rewards for desired behavior. They seem to understand you're trying to distract them, and they don't go for it. They stay focused on whatever it is you're trying to do with them.
If your kitty seems nervous at all, I recommend you do one nail at a time. Clip and stop. Clip and stop, and so on until all the nails are trimmed.
If your cat is really stressed or fighting you or the cuddler, take a longer break between paws. Even wait a day. The goal is to get your pet as comfortable with the procedure as possible, so whatever you can do to reduce his stress and yours is the way to go.
Don't Forget the Styptic Powder
Styptic powder provides clotting action in the event you trim a nail too close and draw blood. The powder will immediately stop the bleeding. When I shine the light on a nail here in a moment, you'll be able to see it's really fairly difficult to clip into the quick if you're being careful.
My nail model is Tyler, a guest today at Natural Pet. His dad volunteered his services for this video. Tyler wants you to know that he, Tyler, did not volunteer himself!
You can see as I gently push on Tyler's toes that his claws extend. And now my helper is going to cuddle the cat to control his movements and help him feel safe.
As I shine the light on one of Tyler's nails, it's easy to see the clear tip of the nail, and behind it, pink skin with veins.
Don't trim the pink – don't even get near it with your clipper – just trim the clear end of the nail.
I'm actually using guinea pig nail trimmers, and I'm just snipping off the really sharp tips at the end of Tyler's claws. This will prevent rug snags, damage to his paws, shredding of furniture around the house, and injury to the other kitties Tyler shares his dad with.
Clip and Stop. Clip and Stop.
Tyler's doing a good job during his nail trim, but has decided that's enough for now. So we'll stop, give him a breather, and then finish up.
If you trim your cat's nails regularly, there's really no need to do all four paws at once. You can let your kitty set the pace – do a couple of nails, then stop. Do a paw a day if that works out for you and your cat.
You've probably noticed your kitty likes to be in control. It's in his DNA. So allow him to feel some control during nail trimming with the clip and stop method. This will keep it positive for the cat, and will also reduce stress around the entire activity of nail trims. Since it's a procedure you'll want to do regularly throughout your pet's life, the more comfortable he is with it, the better.