Cats, whether they live indoors or outside are finicky about the condition of their claws. If you have indoor cats, keeping their claws properly trimmed is important for many reasons. In order to keep their claws sharp, cats use a variety of methods and materials. For indoor cats, the material of choice can often be the rugs, carpets, clothing and the furniture. Even when owners provide an alternative like a scratching post, Fluffy may find that the furniture is more convenient or just more fun.
Assuming that removing the cats claws is not an option, keeping your cats claws neatly trimmed will help to prevent damage to the furniture, drapes and other necessities of modern home life.
Sharpening their claws is a natural behavior for cats. Their claws are used for a wide variety of activities, some of which are vital for their survival in the wild. Cats claws are used for climbing, self-defensive and for capturing prey. The instinct to keep claws sharp and ready for action is very strong, even for cats that are several generations removed from the wild.
A cats paw is a complex social instrument. Each paw has scent glands that the cat will use to mark their territory and scratching helps to release and spread the scent. As if being mindful of territory were not enough reason to scratch, cats just seem to like doing it. Whether it is just plain fun or they do it for other reasons, most cats are prone to sharpen their claws.
The regimen of claw trimming should be started as early as the kitten stage. Even kittens that are four to five weeks old can develop what amount to little meat hooks. Even though the claws are small, they can still be trimmed. Early trimming helps acclimate the cat to the process and can pay real dividends when the cat gets older. Just as a kitten adjusts to the ministrations of its mother, the kitten will grow up knowing that claw trimming is a natural part of being an indoor cat.
Use a Sharp Trimmer
Whatever style claw trimmer you decide to use, make sure it is kept sharp. Cat claws can be thin and easily mangled by a dull trimmer. A sharp trimmer will cut cleanly and with less pressure. If you are not sure about which style of trimmer is best, consult a professional groomer or your veterinarian.
Once I have a sharp trimmer and some styptic solution nearby, I usually start with the cat in my lap. A little gentle petting helps puts the cat at ease. Firming grasping the paw, I apply a slight pressure to the pad and presto the claw pops out. Most cat claws will appear white or opaque in color which makes finding the quick a little easier. The quick, similar to that of a human fingernail, is the blood-filled tissue that extends about halfway up the claw. Once you have located the quick, make a cut about halfway between the tip of the claw and the quick. Continue the same process until all the claws are clipped.
Even though you have clipped the paw claws, there is a dew claw on the inside of each front leg. Depending on the type of coat your cat has, you may have to look for the dew claw. Holding the base of the claw firmly, trim the claw, being careful not to cut the quick.
Some cats may not sit completely still while you trim their claws. It is possible to accidentally cut the quick and doing so will make for an unhappy cat. Cutting the quick will cause some bleeding but there is no need to panic. This is where having some styptic compound close by. Styptic will help the quick clot and stop the bleeding. These preparations are available from your veterinary professional or pet supply store. Apply the styptic according to the package directions.
Some Secrets of Good Claw Trimming
Many cats may decide that having their claws trimmed is not on the agenda. I found it very handy to have some kitty treats close at hand. The treats seem to give the cat a reason to stay even though they may think of the claw trimming as a full-on assault.
If you have ever watched a mother cat in action, you may have seen her grasp her kittens by the scruff of the neck to get their attention. If kitty gets fussy while being trimmed, I have used that tactic successfully. I gently but firmly hold the cat by the scruff until he settles down. I am not exactly sure why this technique works, but it can be effective.
If your cat simply will not tolerate the process of claw trimming, you may seek the help of a professional groomer or a veterinarian.