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Why, When, & How Should My Cat’s Nails Be Trimmed?

Cat nail trimming is something we’re very frequently asked about at our clinic, and for good reason! Cat’s nails are retractable, meaning they’re kept hidden until the cat needs to use them. These nails can grow back fast sometimes! Almost every cat needs to have their nails trimmed regularly; others, not so much for a few reasons.

Regardless, it’s a good idea to prepare your cat for nail trimming by using certain strategies in your cat’s regular grooming routine. For you, the cat parent, you will need to learn how to trim their nails safely. Here is what you need to know.

Why Do Some Cats Not Need to Have Their Nails Trimmed?

Trimming or not is generally dependent on your cat’s lifestyle.

Outdoor Cats – If your cat is an outdoor cat, it may be a bad idea to trim his or her nails because they are needed for important tasks:

  • Climbing – Cats need to climb to navigate their territory and also to escape danger when pursued by other animals.
  • Scratching – Cats nails are always growing, and scratching is an instinctive act that keeps the nails trim and sharp.
  • Marking Territory – Cats have scent glands in their paws, and will scratch as well as urinate to help them mark their territory outdoors and keep other strange animals away.

Indoor Cats – If your cat is an indoor cat, you may need to trim your cat’s nails more frequently:

  • If your cat has a scratching post and likes to use it, his or her nails may need only occasional trimming when young, especially if his or her nails grow very slowly.
  • If you regularly take your indoor cat outside for walks on a leash, he or she may have opportunities to scratch and wear down his or her nails and reduce the amount of trimming needed.

Why Do Almost All Cats Need to Have Their Nails Trimmed?

  1. An indoor cat may not be very interested in using a scratching post and so their nails may grow too fast and too long to be curbed by the post.
  2. As an outdoor cat ages, he or she may become so much less active that the nails grow out. This increases the risk of their nails growing into a curve that drives into their footpads, and in turn causes your cat pain, mobility problems, or even infections.
  3. Both indoor and outdoor cats need to have their nails trimmed because their nails can be snagged and caught in soft surfaces, or the cat may lose their ability to retract their claws altogether.
  4. Arthritic cats, indoors or out, usually don’t exercise enough to keep their nails short via scratching.

How Often Should My Cat’s Nails be Trimmed?

  • For indoor cats, nail trimming in general should be done every ten days to two weeks.
  • A senior indoor or outdoor cat will often develop thick, brittle nails that need to be trimmed more often than when they’re a kitten. Stay alert.
  • Declawing cats was made illegal in BC in 2018 by the B.C. College of Veterinarians. It is now understood that declawing means that the ends of the toes are amputated during the surgery, which has been stated as “ethically problematic and not an appropriate means of dealing with feline behaviour issues”. So now if you live in BC you must learn to trim your kitty’s nails properly, or either pay a groomer or visit your cat’s veterinarian to perform this task.
  • An outdoor cat may become more of an indoor cat when he or she is old and arthritic, so regular nail trimming will become a necessity.
  • Usually it is only the front paws nails that need to be trimmed, but if you notice that the back paw nails are digging into you when your cat jumps up into your lap, you should trim those nails as well.

Here is the Nail Trimming Process

  1. First Things First
  • Most cats don’t like to have their nails trimmed and some will absolutely not tolerate it. If your cat won’t even allow you to hold his or her paws, you may have to rely on a pet groomer or your cat’s vet to trim your pet’s nails.
  • If you take a slow and easy approach, you can succeed in time, especially if you have treats ready, and your cat may associate the nail clipping routine with yummy treats.
  • Don’t attempt to clip your cat’s nails if your pet is upset or if you are upset.
  1. Organize Your Supplies:
  • Towel – You can gently wrap your cat loosely in a towel if you are afraid he or she might suddenly bolt off your lap and scratch you.
  • Sharp cat nail clippers – There are a variety of good nail clippers for cats. Some of them are designed to make sure you don’t clip too close to the vein that runs into the thick part of the claw.
  • Styptic Powder – If you have clippers that aren’t designed to protect the vein and you accidently cut into it, you can apply a small amount of powder to stop the bleeding.
  1. Rehearsals are Important
  • Even an outdoor cat should become used to the idea that you can hold and massage his or her paws and extend the nails when your cat is seated on your lap. It’s easier for a young cat to become used to a routine rather than introduce it when your cat is older and it becomes a necessity.
  • For several days prior to the first nail trimming, hold your cat in your lap facing away from any windows and away from you in a quiet room. Gently massage your cat’s neck and then the front legs and paws. Talk quietly to your little pet as you do this. Gently press on the footpad to extend a nail, then quickly release it, and give your cat a treat. Do this every day on a different toe. Note the pink part of the nail, called the quick—this is the extra sensitive part of their nail consisting of nerves and blood vessels.
  1. Do the Deed!
  • When you and kitty are used to this routine, pick a time when your cat is sleepy and relaxed after eating, and prepare to clip only one or two nails—no more. Do everything the same as usual, only this time, cut the tip off one of the nails. If everything goes well, cut the tip off one more nail and give your kitty a treat.
  • Proceed until you have clipped all of the front paw nails over a period of five days or so, and your cat will soon adjust, especially to the regular treats! You will then be able to trim all the nails on the front and back paws at one sitting.

Many cats don’t need their nails trimmed, but if yours does, learn how to do the job safely. If it will help, make massaging the toes and extending a nail part of their regular grooming and care. If you know you must trim your cat’s nails, rehearse with your pet until you are both comfortable before attempting the job. Expect to trim your cat’s nails every 10 days or so as part of your cat’s regular grooming routine. If all else fails, ask your cat’s groomer or your veterinarian to do the job for you.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Moms Who Love Their Pets

Stumped on what to get your mom for Mother’s Day? Don’t have enough money or ideas? Does your mom have a pet she loves as much as you? This year, we encourage you to think outside of the box when it comes to Mother’s Day gifts, especially if there’s a fur baby in her life as well! With that in mind, here are some great Mother’s Day gift ideas for moms who love their pets that we have to offer.

Pet-friendly flower bouquets

Flowers are considered the go-to gift for Mother’s Day. However, there are several flowers that are considered too toxic for pets and they can cause all sorts of problems if they’re nibbled at in great quantities.

With that in mind, try to find flower bouquets for mom that consist of any of the following: roses, orchids (bromeliads), African daisies, African violets, Christmas cactus – all of these are considered to be “pet-friendly” as far as plants go. Substitute Baby’s Breath in the bouquet, which is toxic to pets, for ferns instead which are non-toxic. Peruvian lilies (Alstroemeria) are less dangerous than tiger lilies and Easter lilies for cats, but they should still be kept out of their reach. That goes for all flowers and bouquets given to mom.

If at any point you suspect pets may have ingested anything toxic from this sort of gift, call your veterinarian right away for immediate poisoning treatment.

Homemade dog treats for mom

Spare mom the trouble of finding dog treats by getting or even making them yourself! There are lots of ideas on the Internet that may turn your mom’s pup’s crank such as peanut butter bites or cinnamon-flavoured biscuits. If mom’s run out of her pooch’s favourite treats, consider giving her a refill of dog treats along with a mom-friendly gift of treats as well, such as her favourite snacks and foods in a basket.

Tools/toys that are in need of repair/fixing

If your mom has had no time or money to repair or replace a tool related to her favourite pet, this may be the perfect time to lend her a hand.Maybe her pet’s favourite bed is showing wear and tear, or the grooming brush has been lost, or her pet’s favourite toy had to be thrown out for various reasons. These would all be acceptable gift ideas for moms who have no time or money to find new tools.

Handmade arts and crafts with paw prints

Switch up from buying a card at the store by making one yourself – with a little extra kitty or puppy love included! Try to make the card and add their paw print as a signature to the next handmade card you make.

If you’re not at all artistic, try making paw print crafts such as salt dough moulds, stepping stones, wall hangings, and so on. Mom’s pet may likely be less than happy to have stuff on their paws, so make these crafts outside where washing off any of the materials used to get their paw prints is done with less hassle when cleaning up afterwards. You can also try making a framed photo collection of their paw prints; perhaps there are some snow prints you managed to snap a photo of that your mom doesn’t have?

Pet service offers

Maybe you want to take mom out to brunch but can’t bear to leave your pets behind, or maybe they’re looking a bit on the shaggy side. So what can you do? Find service of course! Offer to take mom’s dog to a groomer if they’re a long-hair, or groom them yourself if you feel confident enough, or help out by playing with them while mom’s busy gardening or taking time out to pamper herself. You can also offer to take mom’s pet to the veterinarian office for grooming and nail trimming and pair it with a spa service for mom – especially if neither of you feel confident enough to do so.

If you both have to leave, try being the one to hire a pet-sitter if the place you want to check out is absolutely not pet-friendly, or if it’s just mom leaving be the pet-sitter yourself. You can also check out our other blog post of dog-friendly places where you can take your mom out for the afternoon of Mother’s Day without leaving Fido out of the picture!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

How a Pet-Friendly Home Offers Safe Cat and Dog Care

A pet-friendly home offers cat and dog care with no threats to their safety from hazardous objects and materials in the environment. With a little effort, not only can your pets live and play safely but also you will be free from the worry that the animals in your care could come to harm if you are not able to watch over them every minute.

Just as people baby-proof and child-proof their homes, new pet owners must prepare in a similar way for an addition to the family from the animal world. When you are planning to adopt a pet whose care and safety will be in your hands, pet-proof your home and make sure it is free from potential hazards before you bring them home.

Do You Have Enough Room for the Pet You Want?

Consider the size of your home and the size of the animal you are planning to adopt and make sure you have enough room for his comfort and safety and for yours, too. A little puppy might be a happy choice for your small apartment, but if that little puppy happens to be a Great Dane, you might soon be cramped for space!

Your home must be big enough to accommodate all the inhabitants comfortably.  Everyone needs room to move around and a place to sleep and eat that doesn’t make life difficult for the rest of the household. Make sure you choose a pet that won’t outgrow your home.

Can You Keep Harmful Foods Out of Reach?

Make sure everyone in the family is on board with the foods pets can and can’t eat, and which ones are downright dangerous. Young children might see cats and dogs eating substances outdoors that look and smell disgusting to them and conclude that animals can safely eat any food without harm. Spell out the dangers of some of the family’s favourite foods that must never be fed to, or left within reach of, household pets—for example, chocolate in any form is poisonous to cats and dogs.

See that everyone understands that certain foods should always be kept out of the pet’s reach: salt, artificial sweeteners, grapes, raisins, garlic, onions, chives, meat that is not fully cooked, items containing caffeine, dough with yeast in it, avocadoes, macadamia nuts, and eggs for example.

Are Dangerous Objects Accessible?

The dangerous objects list is the same list everyone uses when child-proofing a home. Neither children nor pets should have access to items such as knives, tools, or sharp objects; matches, lighters, or anything combustible; medications, household cleaners, or anything containing poisonous chemicals.

Make sure your pets can’t access items that must be kept away from children too. Fortunately, pets can’t open drawers and doors, so it is easier to keep them out of harm’s way. Just remember to keep drawers and doors shut if there are dangerous objects in them or behind them.

Can Pet Features be Included in Your Home?

Do you have the money and room for pet features in your residence?

  • If you have a cat, you can always find room for a scratching post.
  • Both cats and dogs love window seats.
  • Built-in places for water and food bowls help contain the mess.
  • Cats enjoy climbing structures.
  • Bathing and grooming areas for dogs makes life easier for owners.

There are lots of fun features that you can buy or have built for pets if you have the room and the money for them. However, the most important pet feature of your home should be that it is pet-friendly and assists you in supplying the best cat and dog care you can possibly provide to keep them happy and healthy.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Image Credit: Pixabay