Most cats do not need their claws trimmed, particularly if they are outdoor cats. Clipping them may be inappropriate, as outdoor cats need their claws for defence and climbing. However there are some instances, where trimming your cat’s claws may be necessary.
Indoor cats Inside cats may enjoy using a scratching post (or your furniture!), however they do not scratch on trees etc. to shed their nails, and their claws may become overgrown. Because a cat’s claws are retractable, they are protected when the cat walks and will become very sharp unless they are trimmed regularly.
Arthritic cats Due to their lower activity, cats with arthritis don't usually exercise enough, and as a result their claws may require trimming.
Geriatric cats The claws of ageing felines are often overgrown, thick and brittle and will need to be clipped more often.
Cats with hairy paws will need checking regularly as it is difficult to see the length of the nails.
How to trim your cat’s claws
First of all, talk softly to your cat to keep it calm during the procedure as cats really do not like is being restrained.
The first step is to hold the cat on your lap until he/she is calm and comfortable. Then, holding one paw, press gently on pads and using special animal nail clippers (not nail clippers for humans) clip off the end of the claw. Do not cut too close or you may nick the vein that extends into the thick part of the claw. To see where the vein stops, hold the cat’s claw up to the light; the pink area is the vein.
If your cat yowls or squirms, you may have to introduce it gradually to having it’s nails trimmed. To do this, start with only one to two nails each day and give your pet a treat as soon as the job is finished.
Once your cat learns that there is a reward at the end, it will soon become tolerant of the procedure, perhaps even enjoying its manicure.
If you need some help with trimming your cat’s claws, the team at Vetwest can help. Simply contact your local Vetwest Animal Hospital to book an appointment with one of our veterinary nurses.