Claw Clipping Guide

How can I teach my cat to let me clip her nails?

When your cats are very young, it's the perfect time to begin training them to actually enjoy (or at least tolerate) the nail trimming process. When a kitty is in a sleepy mood, begin by just petting the paws. This will help him get used to having his paws touched. After a few sessions of this, gently hold a paw and extend one of the claws -- just for a second -- and then go back to petting the kitten. If you do these short sessions several times a day, your kittens will get used to having their paws handled. The next step involves using the clippers -- but only clip one or two nails. The point of the exercise is to do it before the kitten even knows what happened. Don't try to do all of the nails in one session because that's how the cat develops a negative association with the procedure. Eventually, you'll be able to do all of the nails. Always end the sessions with praise, petting, playtime or a treat. When you do trim the nail, make sure you're only clipping the very tip. Don't go beyond the curve. If you're at all unsure of how far to go, have your vet give you a demonstration. You never want to cut too far or you'll reach the "quick" where the vein is, and that's very painful for the cat and will cause bleeding. If you follow this method you won't have to worry about restraining the cats or having them hate the whole experience. If you need more specific step-by-step instructions you can find them in my book Think Like a Cat.

Pam Johnson-Bennett

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