Grooming Your Cat: Part Two

Kitties often need some help with their nails. Here are some tips from the ASPCA to guide you in doing this necessary maintenance correctly:

Trim Nails: Trim your cat’s nails every 2-4 weeks to prevent them from becoming overgrown and causing discomfort or injury. Use pet-specific nail clippers and be careful not to cut the quick (the pink part of the nail that contains blood vessels). Choose a chair in a quiet room where you can comfortably sit your cat on your lap. Get them when they are relaxed and even sleepy, such as in a groggy, after-meal state. Take care that they aren’t able to spy any birds, wild animals or action outside nearby windows—and make sure no other pets are around.

Gently take one of your cat’s paws between your fingers and massage for no longer than three seconds. If your cat pulls their paw away, don’t squeeze or pinch, just follow their gesture, keeping in gentle contact. When they’re still again, give the pad a little press so that the nail extends out, then release their paw and immediately give them a treat. Do this every other day on a different toe until you’ve gotten to know all ten.

Your cat should be at ease with the sound of the clippers before you attempt to trim their nails. Sit them on your lap, put a piece of uncooked spaghetti into the clippers and hold them near your cat. (If they sniff the clippers, set a treat on top of them for them to eat.) Next, while massaging one of your cat’s toes, gently press the toe pad. When the nail extends, clip the spaghetti with the clippers while still holding your cat’s paw gently. Now release their toe and quickly give them a treat.

The pink part of a cat’s nail, called the quick, is where the nerves and blood vessels are. Do NOT cut this sensitive area. Snip only the white part of the claw. It’s better to be cautious and cut less of the nail rather than risk cutting this area. If you do accidentally cut the quick, any bleeding can be stopped with a styptic powder or stick. It’s a good idea to keep it nearby while you trim.

With your cat in your lap facing away from you, take one of their toes in your hand, massage and press the pad until the nail extends. Now trim only the sharp tip of one nail, release your cat’s toe and quickly give them a treat. If your cat didn’t notice, clip another nail, but don’t trim more than two claws in one sitting until your cat is comfortable. Then, reward them with a special treat.

A nail-trimming every ten days to two weeks is recommended. If your cat refuses to let you clip their claws, ask your vet or a groomer for help.

If your cat resists, don’t raise your voice or punish them. Never attempt a clipping when your cat is agitated or you’re upset. And don’t rush—you may cut into the quick.

Don’t try to trim all of your cat’s claws at one time.

Other general tips are to bathe your cat when they get dirty or have a skin condition.

Use a cat-specific shampoo and ensure the water is lukewarm. If you haven’t been able to raise your kitty to be used to spa days, be patient: Some cats may not enjoy grooming initially, so reward them with treats and praise to make the experience more positive. Pay attention to your cat’s body language during grooming sessions. If they show signs of stress such as hissing, growling, or trying to escape, take a break and try again later.

Finally, regular veterinary check-ups are essential for your cat’s overall health, including their skin and coat. Your vet can provide guidance on grooming techniques and recommend any necessary treatments.

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