Before I start this article I have one bit of advice: do not declaw your cat. Yes, many cats have been declawed successfully and lived relatively good lives.
That being said, how would you feel if someone cut off your fingertips at the last knuckle?
That’s basically what declawing is. There are also some pretty horrible complications. The procedure is extremely painful and rarely the digit will actually try to grow back which will cause extreme pain and harm to your pet.
If trimming your cat’s claws is not enough and you cannot live with the animal unless it is declawed, do not own a cat. Get a different pet that doesn’t have claws.
Even though our cats do a pretty good job of keeping their nails or claws sharp by scratching on scratching posts, trees or even our furniture, you should also trim their nails regularly so they do not become overgrown.
And as with all things cats, the younger you get it used to something, the easier it will be for you both.
If your cat is not used to it, handling the feet can be very stressful for it. Feet are incredibly important to all of us, especially cats who need them for catching prey and defending themselves.
In the wild, a cat with an injured foot would be unable to hunt, climb or defend itself. And a part of the domestic cat's memory remembers this which makes them very sensitive about having the feet touched or manipulated.
I make a point of gently rubbing Cassie's paws and holding them while he or she is relaxed on my lap. This makes it much easier when I need to examine them.
If your cat is not used to having its nails trimmed, I strongly suggest you get your vet or a professional groomer to do the job for you.
Remember, these claws are incredibly sharp and can do a lot of damage. You do not want to destroy the bond you have with your cat by doing something it considers unpleasant or frightening.
Cats have amazing memories and you could well find your cat becoming fearful of you. And remember your cat will be upset if it knows it has hurt you.
While your kitten is still young, get it used to having its nails trimmed by starting to gently touch its feet, one paw at a time. This is something you can do when your kitten is on your lap and relaxed. (Refer back to gentling the kitten.)
You only need to start with a brief touch and stop if your kitten starts objecting. Reward your kitten with a treat and petting when you stop. After a week or so, your kitten will be used to this so start exposing the nails or claws by massaging the pads on the feet.
By gently pressing there, the nails will come out automatically. Just look at the nails to begin with so you are familiar with them. If they are white, the tips should appear to be almost transparent. When the time comes, this is the part that will be clipped. You must never cut to the ‘quick' which should be visible with a vein and look pink.
On black nails, you must judge where it is. The quick generally starts about 1/16th of an inch (around 2mm) from the tip of the nail. You can purchase specialized cat nail trimmers from most pet shops. Never use the nail trimmers you would use on yourself or your family.
You will want your kitten to get used to having its nails exposed and touched, then moving to having the tip of the nail clipper placed on them. Every step of this must be done slowly and you must watch your cat and stop if it is getting upset.
Remember to praise your cat and give it treats after every session. When you feel your kitten is ready, start by only clipping one or two nails. If you are unsure, clip less rather than more.
You know what it feels like if you split a nail down to the quick. You don't want this to happen to your kitten. You will need to practice to build up your skill and confidence so starting with only one or two nails is best. When you are both ready, you can move on to trimming a paw at a time then all four paws.
Make sure you appear confident to your kitten as it will pick up on your body language. If you are hesitant, your kitten will be aware of this and become wary. Remember to only trim the absolute tip of the nail, nothing more.
By having your kitten used to getting its nails trimmed, you will help save your furniture and the possibility of your cat's nails curling back into the pads if they become too long. If you are at all unsure or if your kitten objects, get a professional to do this job.
This way you won't break that bond you are trying to create and you will remain a trustworthy person to your kitten.