nail trim

Make Nail Trims Worry Free With the Zen Clipper

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If you trim your cat’s nails, you’ve probably been there. Even though you know to only take off the tip of the nail, if your cat moves while you’re trimming, there’s always a chance that you might cut off too much. And there’s no worse feeling than having inadvertently injured your cat. With the Zen Clipper, you never have to worry about hurting your cat again.Continue Reading

How to Approach a “Difficult” Nail Trim

mojo-laura-cochrane

Guest post by Laura Cochrane, DVM

If you ask Mojo the cat about his favorite pastimes, nail trims would definitely NOT be on the list. Sleeping and eating, yes. Nail trims, a big NO.

Mojo is a tough-looking former stray who now holds court at the office of Spirit Essences*. He was rescued by none other than Jackson Galaxy, the cat behaviorist who co-founded the line of flower essences with Jean Hofve DVM. Mojo loves people and spends his days going from office to office, making sure everyone is staying on task. He’s adjusted quite well to being spoiled and is even a big softie most of the time—except on nail trim day.Continue Reading

Review: Zen Clipper Cat Nail Trimmer

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Cats’ nails, especially when they’re kittens, are very sharp, and they don’t just hurt when they’re used on you, they can also damage furniture and carpet.  Having plenty of scratching posts and training your cats to use them will help with that aspect, but keeping cats’ nails trimmed is important for other reasons. Cats’ nails grow very fast, and if not trimmed, can grow into the pads of the paws, which is a very painful condition that will require veterinary attention.Continue Reading

Ruby’s Reflections: Ruby Gets a Visit from the Vet

kitten cute cat tree

Boy, do I have a story to tell today! I know Mom loves me, and everything she does is for my own good (or so she tells me), but sometimes, you have to wonder about these humans.

The other day, I was snoozing on Mom’s lap, all nice and cozy, just loving my life and being close to Mom, when the doorbell rang. Allegra and I ran to the top of the stairs to see who was coming to see us. I always let Allegra go first. She’s the official greeter, and with very few exceptions, I’m a little shy around new people. Mom seemed happy to see the woman who came in, and Allegra ran down the stairs to greet her.

I wasn’t so sure. I had vague memories of that woman. She’d been at our house before, I just couldn’t remember when. Mom invited her to come into the living room, and she and Mom sat down and started talking. Then it hit me: of course! The last time she was here, I wasn’t feeling so good. Continue Reading

Cat scratching solutions, and a giveaway to help

You just got a new sofa, and your cat has decided that it makes a wonderful scratching post.  The new carpet in your family room is already showing claw marks.   You’re frustrated, you’ve shooed your cat away, you’ve yelled at her, and she just looks at you as if you’ve gone crazy.  “What’s your problem, human?  I’m just doing what nature intended for me to do!”

Cats scratch for a variety of reasons, and none of them have anything to do with intentionally ruining your furniture and carpeting. Scratching is natural behavior.  Cats scratch to groom their claws, the scratching motion helps remove dead sheaths from their front claws (they usually chew them off their back claws).    They scratch to mark their territory.  Their front paws contain scent glands, and scratching leaves behind their unique signature on the object being scratched.  They scratch for exercise; scratching stretches the muscles in the front legs and all along the back.  And they scratch simply because it feels good.

So what can you do to let your cat be a cat, and still protect your furniture?

Provide your cat with appropriate scratching posts.   Both the type of material the scratching surface is made out of as well as the horizontal or vertical orientation of it matter.  Some cats prefer corrugated cardboard, others prefer carpeted surfaces or sisal.   Generally, sisal seems to be the most popular with cats, and it allows them to really go to town on shredding the material to pieces.  Don’t throw out a scratching post when it’s all tattered and shredded, because to your cat, that probably means it’s finally perfectly broken in.  Until you know your cat’s preference, it’s best to have a mixture of horizontal and vertical scratchers with different surfaces.    Most cats seem to prefer vertical scratchers, and they should be tall enough to allow the cat to fully stretch her body.   Regardless of your cat’s preference, you should have multiple scratchers throughout the house.

Make the scratching post appealing to your cat.  Place it in an area where your cat likes to spend time.  Sprinkle some catnip on it to attract the cat to it.  Place treats on or near the post.  Praise your cat when she uses the post (and use treats to reinforce the praise).

Discourage your cat from scratching furniture.  Never punish your cat – punishment simply leads to increased anxiety and more unwanted behavior.  Apply tape to the parts of furniture that are attractive to your cat.  Double-sided Sticky Paws® tape works well (and it’s clear, so it won’t ruin your decor), as does tinfoil.  Apply Feliway® spray to the areas you don’t want your cat to scratch – studies have shown that it can reduce scratching behavior.  Gently, without yelling at your cat, redirect her to a nearby scratching post.

Keep your cat’s nails trimmed.  While this won’t eliminate scratching, trimmed nails can’t do as much damage.  For more on how to trim your cat’s nails, click here.

Soft Paws© Nail Caps.  These soft vinyl tips are glued onto the cat’s claws so they can’t do any damage when the cat scratches.  You can do this yourself, or have it done at your veterinary clinic.  However, I’m not a fan of these nail caps.  The cat’s paws will still have to be handled to apply the caps, and nails have to be trimmed prior to application, so if you’re able to do that, then why not just trim the cat’s nails, period.  Additionally, once the caps are on, cats won’t be able to retract their claws, and I can’t imagine that feels very good to them.

Declawing should never be an option.  When a cat is declawed, it is essentially maimed.  Declawing is a surgical procedure that involves amputating the top join of the cat’s toes.  The Paw Project provides extensive information on this topic.

*** This giveaway is closed ***

Thanks to the folks at StickyPaws, I’m able to offer you a fantastic giveway to help with your cat scratching challenges!  Win a BusyPaws™ Scratch-n-Relax Pad, StickyPaws® Furniture and Carpet Strips, and a Scratch This™ corrugated coardboard scratcher.  To enter, leave a comment sharing either a scratching challenge or a solution that has worked for you.  Share this post and giveaway on Facebook and Twitter and post the link in a separate comment for an additional chance to win.  This giveaway will end on January 21.

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Trim Your Cat’s Nails the Right Way, and Nobody Gets Hurt

Allegra and I are getting mother daughter pedicures today.  I’ll be going to my local nail salon.  Allegra’s nail technician makes a house call.  Yes, I admit it:  despite trimming countless cats’ nails as a veterinary assistant, and educating clients on how to do it, I can’t trim Allegra’s nails  without having someone help me.

Cats’ nails, especially when they’re kittens, are very sharp, and they don’t just hurt when they’re used on you, they can also damage furniture and carpet.  Having plenty of scratching posts and training your cats to use them will help with that aspect, but keeping cats’ nails trimmed is important for other reasons.  Cats’ nails grow very fast, and if not trimmed, can grow into the pads of the paws, which is a very painful condition that will require veterinary attention.

The time to get your cat used to having her nails trimmed is when she’s a kitten.  Play with her paws, squeeze the paw pads, touch the nails, but stop as soon as the kitten fights you or starts to bite at your hand.  Eventually, as the kitten gets used to having her paws handled, you can start using nail trimmers especially designed for pets.  Do not use scissors, they can split your cat’s nails.  You’ll also want to have some styptic powder on hand in case you cut the nails too short and make the quicks bleed.  If you don’t have styptic powder, a black (caffeinated) tea bag applied with gentle pressure works equally well.  To avoid cutting the quick, clip only the tip of the nail; when in doubt, err on the side of caution and take off  less than you think you can.  You’re better off doing more frequent nail trims than making it a painful experience your cat will dread every time she sees you bringing out the nail clippers.  You may only be able to do one or two nails at a time – always stop when the cat starts resisting or struggling.

If you’ve tried the desensitization approach and your cat still won’t let you trim her nails, there are several options.  You can try wrapping your cat in a towel (the kitty burrito approach), exposing one leg at a time.  You can get someone to help you, so one of you can restrain the cat while the other person trims the nails.  Make sure that your helper knows how to properly and safely restrain a cat.  And of course, you can also take your cat to your veterinary clinic for her pedicure.

An alternative to nail trims are soft nail caps that are glued onto the cat’s claws so they can’t do any damage when the cat scratches.  You can do this yourself, or have it done at your veterinary clinic.  I’m not a fan of these nail caps.  The cat’s paws will still have to be handled to apply the caps, and nails have to be trimmed prior to application, so if you’re able to do that, then why not just trim the cat’s nails, period.  Additionally, once the caps are on, cats won’t be able to retract their claws, and I can’t imagine that feels very good to them.

I tried the desensitization approach described above with Allegra when I adopted her at seven months old – with very little success.  She was a play biter and touching her feet only encouraged her to bite.  I was using multiple behavior modification methods to get her to stop biting, and I realized I was pushing my luck trying to get her used to nail trims until I had addressed her other issues.  So for now, a friend helps me, and nail trims take 30 seconds for all four paws.  There are plenty of treats afterwards (for Allegra, and for my friend, too).

How do your cats feel about having their nails trimmed?