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    How to Trim Your Cat’s Nails

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    If your cat is destroying your home with its sharp nails, you may need to trim your cat’s nails. It’s not necessary to have your groomer or your veterinarian do this. You can learn how to trim your cat’s nails yourself.

    Why cats need their nails trimmed

    Your cat has strong instincts to scratch. Scratching has important physical and mental benefits for cats. Cats scratch to sharpen and also trim their claws. Cats also have scent pads in their feet, and they scratch to mark their territory. Scratching also calms a cat. 

    But even though you may provide the cat with posts and other places where your cat can safely scratch, cat scratching can destroy your home. Your cat can shred furniture and rugs and can leave deep marks in windowsills and hardwood floors. And if your cat scratches you, it hurts and can lead to infection.

    Some people think declawing a cat is the best way to keep the cat from destroying furniture. This is wrong. It’s important to understand that a cat’s claws and a cat’s nails are not the same thing. The cat’s sharp nails protrude a bit from the claws, so trimming the nails will reduce the damage the cat can do when it scratches. Declawing a cat is not necessary to keep the cat from destructive scratching. Cats need their claws for protection and for balance. Cats use their claws for climbing, digging, and holding on to prey. Declawing a cat to keep it from scratching causes all kinds of health problems for the cat. Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed is a much better way than declawing to keep your cat healthy and to keep your cat from destructive scratching.

    Some cat owners think they don’t need to trim their cat’s nails because regular scratching will wear the cat’s nails down enough. These cat owners believe that providing a nice scratching post or other scratching surface will mean the cat doesn’t need to have its nails trimmed. But this is not true.

    It is true that the outer sheath of a cat’s nail is shed when they scratch, but the sheath is often not shed frequently enough to keep the cat’s nails from being too sharp. And sometimes this natural process goes wrong and the cat’s nail can split, causing an injury. 

    A cat’s nails grow constantly throughout the cat’s life, like human fingernails do. Also like humans, cats can get painful overgrown nails that grow into their footpads. If its nails are too long, your cat may also get its nail caught on a scratching post or a tree and could tear the nail and possibly the claw in an effort to free the nail. Cats can get their nails caught in carpet or thick fabric. 

    Trimming your cat’s nails can help avoid these problems while at the same time keeping your cat’s sharp nails from destroying your furniture, walls, rugs and other.

    Your cat needs your help to keep its nails trimmed. Trimming your cat’s nails regularly will save your furniture and your skin. Trimming your cat’s nails will also help the cat avoid injuries to its nails and claws. Keeping the cat’s nails trim is also a very important part of keeping your cat clean.

    Understand the anatomy of your cat’s nails before trimming

    When you pick up your cat’s paw and look closely at it, you will see that it has claws, toes, toe pads, and nails. The cat’s claws are protractible, and the cat can extend them voluntarily. The cat’s front paws have five toes and five claws each. Its back paws have four toes and four claws each. This is the normal number, although some cats have more toes and claws than normal. 

    Cats use their claws and toes for balance and to bear their weight when they walk and run. Each toe has a toe pad and has skin and fur around the toe pad. This allows the cat to walk almost silently.

    The cat’s nails are at the end of its claws. The nails are covered in an outer sheath that is shed regularly. As cats age, the outer sheath of the nail isn’t shed as often, which is why older cats may need their nails trimmed more often.

    When you look at the cat’s nail closely, you can see that there’s a white part and a pink part. The pink part is called the “quick,” and that’s where the blood vessels and nerves are. You’ll need to be very clear on this part of your cat’s anatomy, because when you trim the nails, you must be careful to trim only the white part, never the quick.

    You may only need to clip your cat’s front paws. Often the rear paws don’t need to be trimmed, and most cats are resistant to having the nails on their rear paws trimmed.

    How to introduce nail trimming to your cat

    The process of introducing a cat to nail trimming should begin when the cat is still a young kitten. But you can still successfully introduce an adult cat to nail trimming. The best way to train your cat to accept having its nails trimmed is to begin with the basics, which means getting your cat accustomed to your touch. 

    It’s best to do this in a calm and quiet place. Ideally, it should be a place where there are no other pets around and where the cat can’t see through the window. The best time to do this is when your cat is sleepy, such as after a meal. 

    While your cat is still a kitten, pick it up and hold it on your lap regularly, so it gets used to being held. Play with your cat’s paws so it gets used to having its paws touched. A cat that doesn’t like having its paws touched will resist having its nails trimmed. 

    Gently and briefly massage your cat’s paw. If the cat pulls away, don’t squeeze. Keep your hand gently touching the paw until the cat is no longer pulling away. When the cat allows, press on the paw a bit so that the nail extends. Then release the paw. Don’t forget to give the cat a treat right after doing this. The best way to get your cat accustomed to this process is to do it for just a little while every other day, on a different toe each day.

    You may also want to turn on the cat’s nail clippers briefly every so often so your cat will get used to the sound. When your cat no longer jumps immediately out of your lap when you pick it up, no longer pulls away when you press on its paw, and doesn’t flinch or run away at the sound of the clippers, it is ready for you to attempt to trim its nails.

    How to trim your cat’s nails with clippers

    Before you begin, talk to your veterinarian about the basic supplies you will need to trim your cat’s nails. The most important item you’ll need is nail clippers. These come in several styles. The three most common styles of nail clippers are a guillotine type, a scissors cutter, and a standard human fingernail clipper. 

    Your vet can advise you on what kind of clippers to buy and also show you how to use the clippers to trim your cat’s nails. Usually, the easiest types of clippers to use when trimming a cat’s nails are the guillotine type of clipper or a human fingernail clipper. You won’t need to use the scissors type unless the cat’s nail is very long, long enough that it is curled. 

    The sharper the cat clippers are, the easier it will be to cut the cat’s nails. Also, it’s easier to cut quickly with sharp clippers. When trimming your cat’s nails, you need to cut quickly while not rushing. Sharp clippers work best for this.

    Before you start, make sure your cat’s paw and toe pad are clean. Then pick up your cat. You could place your cat in the crook of one arm and hold one of its paws with your other hand. You might also put the cat on a table and lift one paw at a time. It might help to have someone to help you hold the cat. 

    However you restrain your cat, you may want to wrap it in a towel to keep it from scratching you. Of course, you will need the towel to be loose enough that you can get one of the cat’s paws out of it at a time.

    You’ll be ready to start when the cat seems comfortable and is still. Once that happens, begin by massaging one of your cat’s toes until the nail extends. Now you’ll be able to see how much of the nail needs trimming. 

    If you are right-handed, hold the clippers in your right hand. You can find more detailed instructions on how to hold and use the clippers by asking your vet or looking closely at the instructions that came with the clippers.

    Once you are ready to begin, place the clippers near the tip of your cat’s nail. Use the clippers to quickly cut off the nail cap. Make sure to only clip the white part of the nail, being very careful to avoid cutting the quick. It’s better to trim less of the cat’s nail than to cut all the way to the quick.

    Once you’ve trimmed one of your cat’s nails, give your cat a treat. If the cat remains still and doesn’t pull away, try trimming another nail. It’s best not to trim more than one or two of your cat’s nails in a single session.

    After you’ve trimmed your cat’s nails, give the cat a special treat as a reward. If you do this every time, the cat will be happier about having its nails trimmed. 

    If your cat is wary of having its nails trimmed, or if you’ve tried unsuccessfully to trim the cat’s nails before, you may want to wear a safety guard to avoid getting scratched. If your cat pulls away and won’t let you trim its nails, don’t yell at the cat or punish it.

    The main thing that can go wrong when you trim your cat’s nails is that you cut into the quick of the nail. If that happens, the nail will bleed, and it will hurt the cat. You can stop the blood flow by applying a bit of pressure to the very tip of the claw. Don’t squeeze the entire paw when you do this, because that will increase the blood flow. Or you can use a styptic pencil to stop the bleeding, if the cat will let you. The way to do this is to hold the black end of the stick to the bleeding nail and rotate it gently. 

    However, even if you do nothing, the nail will most likely stop bleeding in about five minutes or so. You may need to stop the trimming session if the cat seems really upset. Never try to trim a cat’s nails if your cat is upset, or if you are upset. 

    You should try to trim your cat’s nails every two to three weeks, or when you inspect the cat’s paws and notice the nails need trimming. If you provide your cat with a good scratching post or tree, you may be able to go longer between nail trimmings.

    If your cat refuses to let you clip her claws, ask your vet or a groomer for help. 

    With some patience, you can learn how to trim your cat’s nails, and you can teach your cat to let you do it. Be sure to trim your cat’s nails on a regular basis to keep your cat healthy. Regular nail trimming will also keep your cat from destructive scratching.

    Tractor Supply carries nail care supplies for your pet. Visit our site for details.