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Cat Grooming - How Do the Experts Do Nail Care For Their Cats?

Your cat's claws, like your nails, grow constantly (unless she has been declawed). Newly grown claws are protected by an outer layer that the cat removes by sharpening them, preferably on a scratching post.

As your cat grows older, though, she may become unable to maintain her own pedicures. Her claws also may become dryer and more brittle as she ages, making them more prone to splitting and catching on carpets, upholstery, and clothing.

You can help to keep your cat's claws and feet healthy by trimming her claws on a regular basis. Even if you did not trim them when she was younger, she can learn that getting a trim is no big deal.

The first step is to get your cat used to having her paws handled. Do not try to trim her claws at first. Begin by casually holding and massaging each of the paws whenever she is sitting quietly on your lap.

Put your index finger on the toe pad and your thumb on top of the paw, and gently press until the claw extends from the sheath. Do not squeeze too hard. When your cat is comfortable having her feet handled, begin trimming.

You can purchase a claw clipper made for cats, although I have always used a standard nail clipper made for people. If your cat will not hold still while you trim, wrap her snugly in a towel, freeing only the paw you are trimming.

Extend the claws as you did before, and trim the ones on the front feet, including the dew claws (the small claws on the front legs above the feet). Rear claws do not need to be trimmed as often, if ever, they are not as sharp as the front ones, and they grow more slowly.

The tip of the claw has no nerves, so trimming it does not hurt. The live center of the claw is a different story. Called the quick, it contains nerves and blood, so if you cut into it, your cat will experience pain and the claw will bleed.

Luckily for both of you, most cat claws lack pigment, and the quick appears darker, or sometimes pinker, then the rest of the claw, so it is easy to see.

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