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Clipping Kitty Claws -- Need Advice, Please

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  • Clipping Kitty Claws -- Need Advice, Please

    We went in for shots and checkups today and the vet said both kitties needed their front and back claws clipped.

    I've never had vet say that before. He told me horror stories about claws getting so long they curve around, grown back in, between or through the pads, and back out again, or get caught in carpets, etc., and pulled out with lots of bleeding.

    He clipped both kitties' claws and I thought maybe I need to learn how to do this. I don't know anyone who clips their cats' claws, so I figured I'd come here and ask.

    Do you do it? How do you do it? I will probably look on YouTube for a tutorial but I would feel much better asking some of you what you do and, if you do, how.

    My kitties' claws are so short now I'm glad they're indoor-only so don't have to try to climb any trees.

    If you clip, do you file afterwards? The ends look not only blunt, but a little bit rough.

    One cat, who has never been aggressive towards anyone, hissed and growled and tried to bite, then hid for twenty minutes afer we got home; the other kitty screamed bloody murder until they put a towel over her head; afterwards she was absolutely fine as if nothing had happened.

    I'm not sure I want to put any of us through that again!
    Rack on!

  • #2
    Cat nails are very easy to do. Squish the paw so the nail come out, clip off the big point. Cats generally are very visible between the quick and the tip of the nail you can cut off and you don't need to go as close to a cat's quick as with a dog

    No need to file them, the cat can smooth them out on their own. I haven't had cats have too much issue with being done. I usually put them on my grooming table and hold a paw however seems comfortable and do them, most cats don't pay much mind. You can do one nail at a time as they are relaxed and laying around even.


    • #3
      I trim my two cats' claws every other week. Fronts only, they tear around the house like-well, cats and wear their back ones enough to stay blunt and short.

      By keeping the fronts clipped, they rarely sharpen their claws on anything.

      I started the younger one as a kitten, so she's used to it. She'll grumble and complain sometimes but stays still for it. The older one came used to having her claws clipped, but she's such a "lady" she'd probably have learned it quickly.

      I sit on the floor in a brightly lit area, have a pocket full of their favorite treats and the small claw clippers (makes it sooo much easier to use rather than human nail clippers) and plop one in my lap. I have one arm around the cat and then holding a front paw, I use that hand to gently press on a pad to extend the claw and use the other hand to clip the claw. The only part that takes a little maneuvering is the dew claw, but you don't want to skip that one.
      Once I finish one paw, they get a treat. (I don't let go of them) and then swap to the other paw. After that they get scritches and treats. Takes all of about 1-2 minutes to do both fronts on one cat.
      I sit cross legged and have their butts/hind legs in the space between by legs so if they try to kick off to take off, my legs aren't taking the claw-filled kick.
      I don't wrap them or restrain them any more than that.
      But if your cat(s) are prone to laying on your lap, keep your clippers nearby and casually pet a paw, extend a claw and snip it while they're relaxed. Then treat, pet and ignore them. The usual response is Stink Eye as they try to figure out what the hell you just did, LOL!

      Like anything, a little at a time and slowly and with tons of praise (cats can be a pita to train, they require you to worship them as you go along ) But many learn over time. If you start off wrapping them in the standard purrito package, they'll associate clipping with stress and anxiety. Try actually training them slowly first, the more stress avoided the better if possible.

      Do be aware that some may never really tolerate it, same as dogs. Some are toenail-phobic even if started in handling as tiny youngsters.

      How did the vet do it? Did they restrain the cat? Have a tech helping? How did the cat react?

      Tons of indoor cats would benefit a lot from claw trimming, and a LOT of furniture would be saved.
      You jump in the saddle,
      Hold onto the bridle!
      Jump in the line!


      • #4
        I cut my kitties' claws with few problems. I make a habit of gently massage their feet and expressing the claws when they sit in my lap. That way they are used to having their feet handled. I have a pair of cat claw clippers that look like a pair of scissors. I keep them on the table next to my chair. Cat in lap, gently express claws, snip, snip. If kitty starts objecting too much, I quit and do some more later.
        I'm a second hand Vegan. Cows eat grass. I eat cows.


        • #5
          I never trim my cats claws. The don't over grow like a dogs. They are more likely to shed them when they get too long. I find clipping them makes cats scratch the furniture more. Also my cats go outside and claws are their defense. Right now Buddy goes out and scratches her favorite tree in the yard.


          • #6
            Older cats will need to have them trimmed as just like old men they will get thick and gnarly

            You can use a human fingernail clippers if they are superior quality and if you turn it sideways so that it cuts across the flat part of the nail (so perpendicular to the paw)

            Use the scissor type of trimmers and not Resco or guillotine clippers if you do get pet clippers.


            • #7
              Best to do it when the cat is feeling sleepy. If you are having a hard time, don't worry about getting them all done in one go. Be careful not to cut the quick. Better to under-trim than over trim. I only trim one of mine. The other one would not be well behaved most likely, but she has a little better control over hers while the other one sometimes forgets to "unhook" out of things (like my curtains! ) or kneads me too much with his claws.


              • #8
                Thanks for reminding me, I'm due to trim the kitties. None of them like it, but all tolerate it. I don't take no for an answer, though I agree one doesn't have to do the entire cat's worth of nails in one sitting. They are apt to scratch (something, not a person!) more when their nails have just been done, to get rid of that excess flaking nail material and get them feeling "just right". I have no shortage of scratchable things around here, so that's fine.

                I like to do it because my kitties knead, and walk over my head, and it can HURT!
                Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


                • #9
                  I can attest to the "getting stuck to the carpet" bit. My oldster did that a lot. It was funny the first time, but it got to be a problem. He couldn't retract the claws too well, so I had to keep them trimmed.

                  Now that your cats have short claws, take the time to just play with them and their paws, give lots of treats/rewards, and try to teach them that nothing awful happens when you touch their feet. When the claws start to get long again, as you are playing with the paws, just trim one to begin with - one claw, not one paw - then put aside the clippers and keep on playing as if nothing unusual happened. Progress to another claw the next day, and another, and eventually they will all get done with little stress. They won't shed out and become sharp again all at once, this way, and you can keep on just doing a few at a time while your cat is hanging out in your lap, while they're eating, while you're playing - whatever ends up being a comfortable scenario.

                  With my skittish cat, who I got as an unfortunate front-declawed from the shelter, I rarely trim the back paws, but when I need to, I wait until she's standing on something like a table or chair so that she's at hand level, and I distract (pet) her with one hand and nip off the worse tips with the other. I try not to actually touch her toes, and she rarely notices I'm doing anything. The back claws tend to stay blunter, and are fairly visible when she's standing, so we've gotten by quite well with this method.
                  Last edited by oldfuzzyhorses; Jun. 16, 2016, 10:40 PM. Reason: clarity


                  • #10
                    Big Fluff and Small Fry get done about every two weeks. Mr F holds them upside down like a baby, I clip. Big Fluff purrs quietly, Small Fry tolerates. Right before dinner is a good time.

                    I only take about 2-3mm off, just the sharp tip

                    Oh and I play with their paws all the time if they're sitting in my lap - love paws!


                    • #11
                      I have seen them grow so long that they curl over and pierce the pad. It's awful, you don't want to have that happen. It really, really is bad.

                      If your cats go outside they may wear their claws down naturally, but a lot of housecats don't and they need to be trimmed.

                      I clip mine every couple of weeks. I don't file them-- just snip off the tip and call it a day. You don't have to take off a lot, just the tip.

                      I use the flip over in my lap technique.

                      I've done lots of cats, not only my own. Including very uncooperative ones. If they are REALLY bad, you can taco them in a towel and just take out the paw you're working on. Lots of treats afterwards, None of them ENJOY it but I've never had one who didn't get used to it eventially.
                      "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                      • #12
                        I am ALWAYS clipping my cats nails. He is not declawed, and he isn't ever a jerk about them, but when he kneeds on my leg if the nails are long it hurts. At that point I know it is time to break out the clippers. Some nails seem to grow much quicker than others so I just clip as needed. I probably clip a couple of his longer nails once every other week. The back ones are maybe every 2-3 weeks. When he is laying on me I sometimes rub his back paws and can tell if they look long or not.

                        I've always worked with my cats as babies so they are used to me playing with their paws and clipping isn't a big deal. If my current guy wants to wiggle around I'll lay him on his back on my lap. He pretty much just wants to head bump my hand and likes the belly rubs so he seems to oddly enjoy nail clipping time.

                        I just use mini nail clippers. I do not file for the cats after clipping because they are very thin nails. I do file the dogs because they are jagged and thick.

                        My cat does not go outside. He has a ton of scratching posts and such, but for a strictly indoor cat that is rarely enough to keep their nails from getting too long.


                        • #13
                          I clip my cat's claws any time I notice them looking (or feeling - ouch) particularly needle-y.

                          The best way is to burrito the kitty. Mine has gotten so used to it, that now I really only have to throw a blanket over top of him and he'll flop and be fine. Sometimes if he is being particularly uncooperative, I'll scruff him for a few seconds and he gets all mushy and lets me do whatever I want to him.

                          I can usually get his nails all clipped in a span of about 15 seconds if he doesn't have a major meltdown in the middle of it. His biggest meltdowns happen when I try to get his dew-claws. He is not a fan. But if he nips at me or has a fit, we just stop for a second, take a breather, and then go back to it.

                          I usually do his nails at bedtime, so he is up on the bed. It's easier to do it that way, I think, than to try to grab him while he's on the floor.

                          ETA - I just read cnighs post, and while I do agree that a cat's nails are more likely to shed than get overly LONG, they do get overly SHARP. That's my indicator to trim more than their length.
                          Adversity is the stone on which I sharpen my blade.


                          • #14
                            I definitely trim them when they start to get sharp. Otherwise they start to snag on stuff (including my skin. OUCH!)

                            I started getting both of them used to the process, trying to make it a pleasant experience, etc. when they were kittens but they're intransigent so cat burritos it is.
                            Originally posted by BAC
                            I don't think FF's post was rude (not this one at least).


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by french fry View Post
                              I definitely trim them when they start to get sharp. Otherwise they start to snag on stuff (including my skin. OUCH!)

                              I started getting both of them used to the process, trying to make it a pleasant experience, etc. when they were kittens but they're intransigent so cat burritos it is.
                              Seriously, my hands look like I've been in a knife fight.
                              Adversity is the stone on which I sharpen my blade.


                              • #16
                                I clip my cats claws about once a month, they have gotten used to it now so its not hard. I use regular nail cutters. If we let it go their nails get so sharp and long they do get stuck on stuff. One of my older cats nails got really thick and curvy with age, his did curl into the pad. We realized he had to be on a much shorter trim schedule.


                                • #17
                                  I clip mine every few weeks, they love to sharpen them and then it hurts me when they get on my lap! My kitties are very compliant, I just hold them in my lap and clip. They are totally fine with the front paws, but they will sometimes struggle with the back ones. I don't clip the back ones as often as they don't get needle sharp and aren't used for kneading.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thanks, everyone.
                                    Rack on!


                                    • #19
                                      Evil Alinore gets her claws trimmed about monthly. She howls like a fire siren, but after a few sessions with leather gloves, she has given up being difficult, since she didn't "win." I sit on a chair, folded towel over my legs for claw protection, she lays on the lap, held in place. I take a paw, press to make claws stick out and trim them with the heavy human toenail clippers. I hold the clipper sideways, so claw goes straight into the slot, gets cut straight across. You can see the pink and white division where vein ends, cut in the white part on white claws. I clip as close to pink as possible without hitting it. Be sure to do the dew claws too, which is most likely to do the "grow around back into pad" problem with no wear on it.

                                      She is pretty good for the fronts, but a little wiggly for the hind feet when I pull them a little forward. No hind dew claws thank goodness. I cut them too, even though they never are as long as the front claws. I don't file claws at all either.

                                      She has some of those fiber (coir) door mats to wipe your feet on that she LOVES to scratch on, which helps rub off any claw rough spots. There is one other rug she likes to scratch and roll on, a small piece of berber carpet in front of "her room" doorway. She never has done any clawing of the furniture or other things with these acceptable scratching places to use. She never used a scratching post, just ignored it, does like cardboard boxes though if given one to hide in. Shreds off the paper of boxes to wear them out.

                                      But you know when she needs claws clipped because she spends lots more time scratching the welcome mats and you get your hand snagged on SHARP claws when she wants to play. Claws just get too long for feet, she is not sticking them out to play rough. So off they come.

                                      The more often you do the clipping, the better they get. Do wear leather gloves for the first few times in case of biting or clawing, or have someone hold cat while you do the trimming if possible. Alinore is much better now with being done often. The treat after each paw is done sounds like a good idea too, reward for being pestered.

                                      Alinore is EXCELLENT for baths, she got washed often as a kitten, actually likes being wet or washed. Just another thing that gets better with practice. Good thing because of our flea problem last summer, got washed weekly for about 6 weeks while we cleaned away the fleas. The old barn cat moved into the house, had to be bathed occasionally and didn't mind it after a few sessions. Never got nasty, just protested a lot. I told her "house animals have to be cleaned with soap and water, cat spit is not enough for real cleaning". She was also good to get her claws trimmed with a few sessions, after never having been trimmed previously.


                                      • #20
                                        Cat toenails are so much easier to trim than the dogs! Tiny little nail trimmers: white nails, so very little chance of quicking, and yep, if somebody gets fussy, cat burrito! I started clipping my (now departed) cat's toenails shortly after I got him - he fussed at first, but I was working at a vet clinic and learned the value of the kitty muzzle: After a few trimmings aided by Mr. Muzzle, he figured out that I wasn't going to kill him or cut off his toes and we could just (gently) grab a paw and start snipping.

                                        My parent's grumpy old lady cat was a little bit more challenging, but only because I had to take her to a separate room - she (at first) needed the burrito method and made a lot of terrible noises, which upset my dad (probably more than the cat). It took a few months of burrito-ing her, but she also came around and got much easier to trim after we'd done it a few times.