When it comes to your cat’s claws, the question is: to trim or not to trim? The idea of it probably fills you with horror. Cats are stubborn and wriggly, and most hate being handled for too long.
Read on to find out why and when cats need their claws trimmed, and discover some of our best tips to make it an easier experience for you both…
Why do cats need their claws trimmed?
If your kitty’s claws become too long (more on that below), it can cause some serious discomfort and even infection. In extreme cases, the claws become so long that they start to curve under and grow into the paw… ouch!
A cat’s claws are so important for cat welfare that de-clawing is illegal in the UK. That’s why we recommend that you never trim your cat’s nails unless absolutely necessary. And always discuss it with your vet first.
How to help your cat keep their claws trim
In most cases, clipping your cat’s claws is unnecessary as they’ll naturally file down their own nails. Active, outdoor cats shouldn’t need their claws trimmed. But indoor or older cats are more likely to have longer claws and may need a helping hand. Here’s a few tricks to encourage natural nail filing:
- Make them move around: playing, ‘hunting’ and climbing helps to naturally wear down the tips of their claws
- Keep them in shape: a chunky cat may be cute – but they’re more reluctant to stay active, which means their nails will be longer
- Provide multiple scratching posts: cats instinctively love to scratch, and this provides numerous benefits aside from nail filing. It allows them to express how they feel – they’ll often scratch due to excitement or stress. They also do it to mark objects with their scent and to stretch out their body. By investing in some scratching posts, boards and pads, you’ll move the clawing away from your furniture and carpets!
How do you know when your cat’s claws are too long?
It’s relatively easy to figure out if your cat’s claws are too long. Cat’s nails naturally retract. If you can see them when your kitty is relaxing – like sleeping or just walking around – then the nails are too long!
Just so you know, their claws should only be trimmed if they’re too long, not because they’re sharp. Cats will sharpen their nails after a trimming session anyway. They do this by scratching their posts, boards and pads to make them pointy again!
Our top tips for trimming cat claws
Practice handling their paws
If your cat isn’t used to having his or her nails trimmed, you should practice without the clippers first. They’ll need to get comfortable with you touching their paws and toes. Even if your kitty’s nails don’t need trimming at the moment, it’s always a good idea to get them used to paw handling. This way, they’ll be much more comfortable in the future!
When it comes to clipping, you’ll need to apply some light pressure to their paw pad for their claws to extend. It can take weeks for some cats to adjust to this kind of handling.
Take it one claw at a time
If you’re unable to trim all nails at once, don’t worry. Cats aren’t renowned for being very patient. Cutting their nails over a week or two is just as beneficial.
Watch out for the ‘quick’
The pink part of your cat’s nail, known as the quick, is actually a small blood vessel. Make sure to only snip off the transparent tip, otherwise you’ll draw blood and cause a lot of pain for your feline friend.
Comfort is key
Choose a time when you’re both comfortable – ideally when they’re relaxing on your lap. Your cat’s likely to investigate your clippers. Let them sniff around if they’re interested. A tasty reward for being curious is a good way to get rid of their fear. And if your cat gets stressed out at any point, just stop.
Consult your vet
Before trimming, it’s important to talk to your vet. They’re best placed to advise you on clipping your cat’s claws, and can even give you a demonstration! They’ll also be able to look into any underlying conditions – like old age, Arthritis or nail infections. If your kitty’s getting into its older years, it’s important to be extra gentle when you handle them.