How to avoid getting scratched by a cat

Cat-scratch sequence activated.

Due to anatomy and predisposition, cats predictably do certain things at certain times. The predictability makes it possible to handle most of them, even though they have claws and teeth. Note: predictably does not mean 100% of the time.

Scenario. Cat-scratch sequence activated.

Goal: Pick up cat without being scratched.

Cat laying on side, eyes wide with dilated pupils, focused on you, part or all of belly visible, tail may be moving back and forth. Defensive fighting position. Cat’s short-term goal — keep person from touching body. End goal — run away and hide. In this position, cat’s front paws can’t reach further than a few inches. Stay out of range.

Front legs are a cat’s knives. Used to inflict damage. (Back legs are a cat’s hammers. More powerful than front paws. Used for “rabbit-kicking”, not scratching.)

Wrap towel around hand or wear a glove unless you have a tolerance for risk. Very quickly put hand on cat’s rear and spin cat so that cat’s rear end faces you, if you can reach cat’s rear without putting your hand in front of cat. If you can’t, use a wrapped towel (tube shape) to prod cat into position where you can reach rear. (Can use your other hand to distract cat.)

Place your hand on cat’s shoulder blades, press down enough to keep cat from moving. Roll cat onto its belly, while maintaining firm hold. Cat’s stomach should be flat against table/ground, no longer exposed. Cat’s rear legs should be under the cat, so the cat is in a “loaf” position.

If you can’t do this, distract cat with towel and grab scruff with hand. Gently hoist cat up a few inches, then plop cat down so cat is on belly, legs underneath in cat loaf position.

Cat-scratch launch sequence de-activated.

If cat is determined to scratch, I wear the Bite Buster glove.

To buy: BiteBuster Nitrile/Kevlar Bite Gauntlet Extreme Cat Glove, 18-Inch, Small/Medium, Black

 

Scratch sequence not activated.
Scratch sequence not activated.

Cat Claw Growing into Pad? Ingrown Cat Nail?

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.”

What now?

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?

What next?

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.

To buy:  Four Paws Magic Coat Cat Claw Clipper

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.

PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge (Walnut Brown)

Don’t let anxiety stop you from caring for your cat

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.

 

 

What happens if you don’t trim cat claws?

The claws grow longer and longer, eventually becoming long enough to get snagged on furniture — or on you. Ouch.

For some cats, things get much worse. I’ve seen cats with claws embedded in their paw pads. It happens more often than you’d think. The most common scenario is an old cat living with an old person.  The owner loves her cat but due to poor eyesight, doesn’t see the disaster that has befallen her cat.

Happens more often that you'd think!
Happens more often that you’d think!

Soft Paws for cats: Pro and Con

Applying tiny plastic covers to cat claws isn’t the easiest thing to do.

I prefer simply trimming the claws, but sometimes that’s not enough.

Soft Paws need to be re-applied every 4-6 weeks. Try the brightly colored Soft Paws, because you can easily see if they’ve come off.

Good candidates for Soft Paws claw covers:

The elderly, people with health conditions causing thin skin or bleeding problems, small children, cats with health conditions causing thin skin/bleeding problem/chronic itching/OCD issues, aggressive cats, households with antique furniture, cats that bat their owner’s eyeballs, cats that get stuck to the rug.

Soft paws are bad for:

Outdoor cats, cats owned by people that can’t maintain a 4-6 week Soft Paw schedule, some OCD nail biters.*

*Thanks to cat groomer Beth Cornell Rex for this description of who should and shouldn’t use Soft Paws.

soft paws