Your Cat’s Nails | Regularly Trimming Matters

Pet parents know the importance of regularly trimming a dog’s nails, but did you know that regularly trimming a cat’s nails is just as important? For many of the same reasons as for dogs, cats need their nails regularly clipped to enhance their quality of life. In this blog and video, we’ve presented some basics on trimming your cat’s nails.

Why is it important?
First and foremost, trimming your cat’s nails keeps him healthy and comfortable. When his nails get too long, they can begin to curl inwards towards his paws, making it difficult to walk correctly. Over time, this can affect his gait and certainly begin to affect his activity level (if your toenails were overgrown and painful, would you still go for those early morning runs?). Trimming them keeps your kitty active and getting the exercise he needs to stay fit.

Another reason for nail trimming is furniture salvation. We all know how cats love to scratch and knead on almost anything they can conveniently get their paws on. As a matter of fact, scratching serves a more useful purpose than we dim-witted humans think. Scratching allows your cat to stretch his back and shoulder muscles, shed dead outer layers of nail, and leave his scent on and around his territory (using the scent glands located in his paw pads).

Although scratching is vital to your cat’s happiness, that expensive Pottery Barn loveseat may be vital to yours, so in order to keep it as pristine and intact as possible, clip that cat’s claws (a well-placed scratching post will help, too!).
A 3rd reason for trimming your cat’s nails (and this one’s a biggie) is keeping YOU safe. Although you adore your precious “little ball of fur,” (The Big Bang Theory, anyone?), occasionally he will skewer you with his claws of death, whether intentionally or not. To minimize the carnage, trim his nails on a regular basis and show him that, although you respectfully acknowledge that he is descended from man-eating sabor-toothed tigers, you deserve a little respect, too.

How often should you trim?
The frequency of nail trimming depends on the individual cat and situation. If you have a kitten, you may want to give him a trim (or at least check for trimming) fairly frequently so that he gets used to the process, thereby making your life much easier down the close-up of cat nail trim (1) road. Also, if you have an older cat, you should check his nails for trimming every couple of weeks, since older cats may have trouble retracting their claws and are more prone to injury from getting them caught on things. If you have an outdoor cat, you may actually want to consider doing it less often so that you’re not inadvertently taking away his defensive weapons against the other cats and critters he may encounter out and about. Plus, outdoor cats will naturally trim their own nails by climbing and scratching at trees and generally carousing around the natural world.

What methods can you use?
While the best advice is to use whatever method is most comfortable for you and your cat, here are 3 ways that Pet Camp counselors have successfully trimmed cat nails:

  1. Football cat: hold your kitty under your arm as if you are running him down the Leeann cutting cat nails field for a touchdown. While sitting down, circle your arm around him to secure him, and with that hand gently press down on his paw to make his nails extend. With your other hand, clip any long nails you see, careful to avoid the pink vein or “quick.” Work carefully, but quickly, so as to avoid agitating him more than is necessary.
  2. Burrito cat: using a towel or blanket, make your cat resemble everyone’s favorite after-hours Mission district meal and wrap him up like a tasty burrito! This method helps keep him calm and gently restrained, and keeps the novice nail trimmer safe and confident.
  3. Baby or Toddler cat: this is my own personally-preferred way to trim cat nails, but, in all honesty, should only be attempted on a cat that is pretty tolerant. As if holding a toddler or baby on my lap (or at least, as someone who has no kids, what I imagine that scenario to look like), I sit kitty belly-side up with legs facing forward and cradle as I cut. Again, this is not for the faint of heart or for a challenging cat, but it has worked for me thus far.

If all else fails…
If after reading this blog and watching our handy-dandy video you’re still not sure what to do, bring your little Mittens down to either our Main Campground or Cat Safari location and let the experts do it for you! At only $18, it’s a bargain and well worth the time, anxiety and possible blood you’ll save trying to wing it yourself. Whatever you choose to do, don’t neglect this important part of cat health and happiness. Remember: a happy cat is where it’s at!

Thanks for reading!
Michelle @ Pet Camp