Soph detests having her claws clipped more than anything else in the world. Mr Pet Parent has never ever done it, but is very quick to inform The Help (me) when it needs to be done. This means I get to risk the intactness of my upper limbs every few weeks to blunt claws that Pussa and Soph work so hard to make sharp. But Soph is not alone in carrying on like a pork chop when the clippers appear. Lots of cats feel the same way, but what provokes such a strong reaction from many a Favourite Feline when the clippers come out of the drawer?
The pads of cat’s paws have evolved to be extremely sensitive because they are choc-o-block with nerve receptors helping them to maintain balance and hunt their prey. However, this does make them sensitive to pressure, temperature and pain. As we try to hold our Favourite Feline’s paws steady for cutting, we are applying pressure to their paws which makes them wriggle and squirm. We respond by holding tighter to keep them still, to which they object even more, and if you’re Soph, then you hiss, hide your paws and hope Mum gives up.
The Best Tips for Cutting Cat Claws
1. It’s probably not much use telling you now, but the best way to desensitise is a cat and their paws is to start when they’re kittens. Getting them used to you holding and pressing around their feet can mean that they are less concerned about it when you’re mucking about with the clippers. However, if like us you got your cat as a grown up version you might find the desensitisation approach less effective
2. Just do a few claws at a time, give puss-cat a break, and then have another go a bit later. Yes, I grant you that from your point of view this drags out the whole process enormously, and it’s the kind of job you just want to do and tick off. If however you press on disregarding the obvious distress that it’s causing puss-cat, you’re only going to make the next time that little bit worse for both of you. And each time you do it you’ll continue to make it worse
3. Try to do the clipping when they’re relaxed having just woken from a snooze rather than when they’re geed up…like before dinner or during or after playtime as this will only heighten their emotional response even further.
The Best Technique for Cutting Cat Claws
1. First of all, use clippers that are specifically for cats. Don’t use regular scissors or clippers for dogs because they will be too big and you risk splitting the claw by not doing a clean cut
2. Pussa doesn’t stress about having her claws clipped, so I can sit her on her bottom, which if you’re doing the job by yourself is really the only position I have found that allows you to get to each of the paws. Otherwise you can try positioning them in in a haunched position with their bottom against you then bring the clippers around from behind them. Works OK for the front paws but you can’t get to the back paws and still hold puss-cat in place
3. Hold the paw in the palm of your hand and then squeeze with your thumb and index finger above and below the joint so that it extends the claw
4. Orient the clippers horizontally so that the blades will cut top to bottom rather than side to side as the latter is more likely to cause splitting. Often this is easier said than done. Sometimes you just need to be satisfied that you’ve managed to cut the claw rather than getting too hung up on the method employed
5. Only cut the sharp tip off. You can tell how far up the nail to go because it’s just the part that’s translucent. In the same way that it hurts if you cut your own nail too short, you’ll hurt your Favourite Feline if you cut too far up the nail. If in doubt, adopt the less is best principal
6. Finish off by rewarding Favourite Feline with a treat especially if they are not fans of the treatments on offer at the local nail salon.
As we all know claws and bare flesh do not make good companions. In the early days I used to put on Mr Pet Parents motorbike jacket which, while not great to wear in the middle of summer, worked a treat in preventing my arms from looking like I’d been fighting in the rose bushes. These days I use one of our Feline Futons which are big enough for them to sit on while also covering my exposed arms. Both the hooman and the cat find this a satisfactory arrangement.