I enjoy the challenge of claw trims. Keeping the cat still can be a game of skill and imagination! It’s hard to be more clever than a cat when it comes to keeping them from getting away during a claw trimming session.
Some gentle restraint techniques I’ve used:
No restraint. Just put the cat on a counter and trim the claws. Yay!
Hold the cat in my lap with their belly facing up, just like you’d hold a baby.
Wrap kitty up like a burrito in a big towel, pulling out the paw that I need.
Put cat on the counter, slide cat’s body up against mine so she is snug, and trim claws.
Any of the above, plus a snap-on E collar.
Sit on the floor on my knees, with kitty between my knees. Face a wall so kitty can’t run off.
Lay kitty on side with my forearm resting gently but firmly on their shoulders. Trim the claws I can reach. Turn kitty onto other side and repeat.
Cats are flexible. As long as you don’t put them in uncomfortable positions, you can try different ways of holding them until you find the one that works. Remember that trimming claws only takes a minute or so, so even if kitty isn’t thrilled, they are only one minute away from treats, praise and play time. Not a bad deal!
A claw thorn is a claw growing into a cat’s paw pad. Much like a thorn, an untrimmed claw can pierce the paw. Ouch!!
Yoga. Jiu Jitsu. Moving 3-dimensionally.
Cats twist their body in ways we can’t even begin to do.
Cats use extreme flexibility to get the upper paw.
If I’m thinking like a human, two-dimensionally, I’m not going to get those claws trimmed.
The cat is not a piece of paper or a brick. The cat is more like air flowing and shifting shape.
May the force be with you, grasshopper!
To get the claw trimmers, Four Paws Cat Grooming Claw Clipper
How do you survive in a world of predators and prey? Hide weakness. Look normal. Act healthy. No matter what.
This is your cat’s code of survival. They don’t have to think about it. They do it automatically.
You look at your cat’s claw and see something that looks weird. You look closer. Wait . . . what? Why is the claw so fat? It’s growing into the paw pad! Oh no! Oh wow! You quickly check the other claws, heart beating. You love your cat. Your cat looked normal, nothing unusual about her behavior, and now this?! You wonder, “Is my cat in pain? This is awful.”
1. If you usually trim your cat’s claws, you can try to cut the part of the claw that is exposed. You need good lighting. If the claw is deeply embedded, there may be blood. To prevent infection, keep the claw as clean as possible. Ask your veterinarian how to care for the paw.
OR . . .
2. You can take your cat to your veterinarian.
OR . . .
3. I can trim the claw, BUT if the claw was embedded, you MUST take your cat to the veterinarian or talk to your veterinarian ASAP. I am a groomer, not a doctor. I can only care for the outside of a cat, not the inside. I am not trained to prevent or treat possible infections. Graduating from grooming school is NOT the equivalent of earning a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, right?
1. Trim your cat’s claws at least every 4-6 weeks. If you can’t do it, we will set up a schedule. It only takes 15 minutes for a claw trimming visit, as long as the cat is relaxed. For a nervous/angry/wiggly cat, the claw trimming is the easy part. Picking up and restraining the cat is the hard part. Cats that bite or scratch may be calmer at a veterinary clinic. Some cats “freeze” in a clinic, while they try to figure out what to do next. Or not. With cats you never know. It’s worth a try if house call claw trims don’t work out.
Good luck. Ingrown claws can be found on cats owned by even the most loving people. Don’t worry about it. Don’t feel guilty. Just fix it, fast.
The claw trimmer I use is small, but you can use a bigger one or a human nail clipper if that is easier for you.
If your cat doesn’t use a scratching post, the sheath covering the claw might stay on instead of being sloughed off.
The stylish cat scratcher lounge. I own one. So do six of my clients.
I get to be the bad guy. You get to be the hero who hands out treats. File under “reasons cat groomers exist”.
I love this little cat. She USUALLY loves me.
If you are scared to trim your cat’s claws, that’s okay. Claws are pointy, so your fear is understandable.
If you are afraid to irritate your cat by combing through her fur, that’s okay. Some cats aren’t easy to comb.
YOU don’t have to do these things, but if you want to take good care of your cat, SOMEONE has to do them.
Those claws need to be trimmed. That fur needs to be brushed.
There’s no shame in calling a cat groomer. After all, most of us don’t sew our own dresses or make our own shoes. Most of us don’t bake our own bread. If it’s easier for you, and easier for the cat, go for it.
Imagine what it would be like if a hairdresser pulled on your grandmother’s arms and legs while doing her hair. Would your grandmother be happy or upset? Would you feel good about the situation, or would you feel worried?
Grooming the older, matted cat poses challenges which are distinct from the challenges involved in grooming a young or middle-aged cat. Cats whose fur is matted require either de-matting with a comb/brush, or shaving/trimming the fur, in addition to bathing. Bathing relieves the skin of excess oil, dandruff and dirt. Trimming the claws is part of the health care process, since elderly cats can develop ingrown claws which penetrate the paw pad.
A younger cat may object to being groomed, but as long as the groomer is careful, discomfort can be avoided.
With an older, matted cat, discomfort may be unavoidable due to arthritis.
“In one study published in 2002, 90% of cats over 12 years of age had evidence of degenerative joint disease. This included cats with so-called ‘spondylosis’ of the spine (a form of degenerative joint disease). However, even when these cases were excluded, around ⅔ of the cats still had radiographic signs of arthritis affecting the limb joints. More recent studies have shown radiographic evidence of arthritis in the limb joints affecting between 60% and more than 90% of cats. All these studies show that arthritis is actually very common in cats, that it is much more common (and more severe) in older cats, and that the shoulders, hips, elbows, knees (stifles) and ankles (tarsi) are the most commonly affected joints.”
(Published in International Cat Care, “Arthritis and degenerative joint disease in cats.”)
I prefer to groom senior cats on a two to four week schedule, so that mats don’t get the chance to form. When shaving matted underarms and groins, it is difficult to avoid holding the elderly cat in a position that will put stress on their joints, since the skin must be stretched taut to avoid nicking their fragile skin.
The best option is frequent brushing and combing sessions with a cat groomer, so that the stresses of shaving can be avoided. Letting the cat live with mats is not an option. Mats pull at the skin, prevent air circulation, and create fertile ground for infection.
It is far easier to gently brush fur and comb fur than it is to complete a full body shave. Think of your grandmother (the nice one, not the mean one) . . . now call the cat groomer.