Pet Health tips: Trimming kitty’s claws

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By: Chryssa Rich
Pets Best Insurance Marketing Associate
Luisa and Monica wait patiently for their nail trims.
A few years ago I was visiting a friend when I noticed her lovely black cat could hardly make it across the living room. Her nails were so long, she had to stop and shake them free from the carpet with almost every step.

“She’s old,” my friend explained, “and we’ve never cut her nails. She won’t let us.”

Determined to help the poor creature, I grabbed a pair of clippers and started snipping. In a matter of seconds, I was done and my friend stood in awe. The cat hadn’t even flinched. My friends now marvel at my cat health care skills and I’ve earned the reputation in many social circles as “the one’s who’s really good at cutting cat nails.” (Yes, my mother is proud.)

In all seriousness, aside from ruining carpeting, blankets, furniture and clothing, overgrown cat claws can affect pet health. The longer the nails, the greater the chance for infection or accidentally causing harm to people and other pets. In extreme cases, the nail grows so long it curls under and up into the paw pad, causing pain and infection.

Here are a few tips to make trimming your cat’s claws easier:

1. Use a regular nail trimmer
There’s no reason to spend big bucks on a specialty trimmer. Buy a human nail trimmer, label it for the cats, and keep it somewhere handy. Using a familiar tool will help you be quick and confident when clipping.

2. Go little by little
Turn the clippers sideways so they clamp together on the flat side of the nail (See image.) Gently press up with your finger on your cat’s paw pads to help the nails come out. Trim just the pointy tip so you don’t nick a blood vessel. If it happens, don’t panic. Call your veterinarian and use a styptic pencil to stop the bleeding.

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3. Sneak up when they’re sleeping
My Siamese mix Luisa gets pretty ornery if I try to clip her nails while she’s alert and playing. So I’ve learned to approach while she’s napping and gently snip as many as I can before she’s fully awake. I can usually get 2 paws done per nap.

4. Take breaks
If kitty starts to panic, growl or bite, stop clipping, give her a nice pet and leave her alone for a while. Come back later to finish the job.

5. Assume the best
If you’re about to trim your cat’s nails for the first time, you might luck out like I did with my orange tabby, Monica. She sits back in my lap and purrs the whole time. If nothing else, take a deep breath and relax. How many times have you successfully cut your own nails? This is no different. You’re not hurting your pet. Just like humans, pet fingernails have no nerve endings.

By learning to trim your cat’s nails, you’ll save time, money, furniture and maybe even a little face. And, you’ll help ensure pet health for a happy cat and snag-free household.

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