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Kitty and Its Claws

As a rule we do not think of a cat's claws very often, unless it scratches you or does some damage to the furniture. We almost never think of a cat's claws are growing too long, but they can if the cat is an indoor cat with no place to scratch.

A cat in the wild uses it claws on a daily basis, not only for scratching itself, but to bury its scent from urination, feces, or to hide its food source. Claws are used to mark a cat's territory, climb a tree or dig a hole.

Most cats, especially outdoor cats have no problem keeping their claws in shape, even indoor cats that have access to a good scratching post will have no problem keeping its claws trimmed.

However, once in awhile a cat can have a claw (nail) problem and it can be very painful. An ingrown claw is one that has grown long and curls back into the cat's pad. This can happen to any claw on any paw, but generally happens to the dewclaws. They are the two seemingly nonfunctioning claws on the cat's two front feet (sort of near where an ankle would be.)

In many instances a cat will take care of the problem itself by chewing and licking the claw, but it can be extremely painful. Imagine walking with a nail puncturing your foot all the time. An attentive pet parent should take notice of their cat's claws and if you see them growing too long or notice an ingrown claw take your cat to the vet for cutting and/or treatment.

Overgrown claws can be a detriment to an owner as claws can carry disease-causing bacteria, fungal and virus germs. A cat jumping onto your lap with long claws can scratch or puncture your skin and cause a problem.

Not intending to scare anyone but cat-scratch disease can be transmitted this way. Cat-scratch disease is a bacterial infection that causes swelling of the lymph nodes and can be serious to people with compromised immune systems.

Keeping an eye on your cat's claws is really not hard, the main thing is to begin when your cat is a kitten and start to routinely examine its claws. By developing a routine of doing a few claws at a time using an emery board or clipper, a cat will get used to you handling its paws and if you are lucky won't mind the intrusion.

The best time to do it is when your cat is relaxed and sleepy and before your start have all your equipment by your side, such as an emery board, clippers if you use them and a styptic pencil (in case you go too far and cause bleeding.)

Sit down and snuggle Miss or Mr. Kitty in your lap, hold a paw and hold it close to your body, with your index finger under the toe pad and your thumb securely on top of it. Squeeze your thumb and index finger together to extend the claw. I have never used an emery board and suspect you really just file off the sharp tip and be done with it.

If you are using a clipper, cut halfway between the end of the claw and the quick (the pink sensitive part.) If you happen to cut into the quick, do not panic, apply the styptic pencil or powder and the bleeding will stop. There is a helpful video that will teach you how to trim your cat's claws at Once you get to the site you will have to click on "cats" and in the search box put in "trimming claws" and you will get a great 4 minute video, which really makes it look easy.

If your kitten/cat is too uncooperative may I suggest your vet do the process whenever necessary, better yet get a good scratching post rub catnip on it and teach your cat to use it. It works every time and is cheaper in the long run.

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