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anniereborn's avatar

What's the best way to cut the nails of an insane cat?

Asked by anniereborn (14365points) September 26th, 2013

I have a 20 year old kitty that needs nails trimmed, but she is very bitey when restrained at all. I do have someone to help, but he is very skiddish about it. I don’t want to drag her to the vet for just this. Any suggestions?

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17 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Take her to the vet. The stress alone, at age 20 is not good. The vet will do it in, one toe at a time, increments. Or…you do the same. Clip ONE claw, let her rest for awhile, rinse and repeat.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I’m confused as to why she needs her nails cut after 20 years and you’ve never done it before now. Did you just get this cat?

anniereborn's avatar

I inherited her from my mother who is in a nursing home.

Sunny2's avatar

The cat should probably have a check-up from the vet just because she is older and new to you. The toenail clipping could be part of that visit.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@anniereborn Oh, ok. I say the vet should do it as well.

wildpotato's avatar

I agree that the vet visit for the first time is a good idea, especially if she has dark-colored claws where you can’t see the quick.

My trick at home with my bitey guy is to set him on my lap and have a packet of his favorite treats right next to us – in his case, little freeze-dried shrimp he finds irresistable. I give him one to start out and a lot of petting and praise as I handle his foot. Then I clip a claw while he’s preoccupied with eating his first shrimp, and then immediately give him another shrimp as he notices I’ve clipped a claw. I continue like this, keeping up the praise and the petting when I can spare a hand until we do all 10 front claws. I leave the back claws alone.

Be really careful to never get the quick, or kitty will associate pain with the clipping. When in doubt about how far out the quick goes, err on the side of safety and only clip the tip of the claw.

Also, buy a cat nail clipper. They are so much easier to use than human nail clippers, and they only cost like $10.

Pachy's avatar

At 20, your kitty is too old to be trained to let you clip his nails. I think only a vet or groomer will be able to do it, and even then a sedative may be necessary (which my cat has to have when he’s examined or gets shots).

I started clipping my cat’s claws when he was only a few months old and I’ve done it regularly ever since. I have a really good pair of clippers (spring action) that cuts the nail fast enough not to tear or pull it.

KaY_Jelly's avatar

The cat is 20! My cat is 18. If the cat is 20 I disagree with the others you don’t need a vet for a “checkup” …come on people :-\ why is that always the first answer. The vet will struggle just as much as this owner will which will just cause the senior kitty unwanted stress.

The cat is a senior so if you just “inherited” the cat you probably need to just let it get comfortable with you first and at that age they are pretty whiney. My cat needs everything a certain way, she even tells me when to go to bed now, lol, so I’d imagine you will need time to probably wait until the cat is more comfortable with you and patience is a virtue. The cat doesn’t probably know you or trust you and may be confused as to what the heck is going on, even slightly traumatized that her original owner has gone missing.

So you will have to use positive reinforcement and talk really nice and show the clippers human nail clippers will work and try clipping the cats nails after all that while she is laying down. Treat her like she just lost her owner. I wouldn’t think about clipping her nails until after she trusts you, that’s all I’m saying. I hope it all works out. I’m glad you have a new kitty. :)

Buttonstc's avatar

What was the cat using to scratch on when your mother had her?

How long have you had the cat so far?

Have you ever had cats of your own whose nails you clipped or is this totally new for you?

And realize that our own esteemed Milo’s person, @gailcalled takes him in once a month and has the vet do it.

She seems it well worth it rather than being clawed up to a faretheewell. And she’s had him for around five years.

If you’ve never clipped cats claws before, then you don’t have the experience to know how to avoid the bloodline (also termed “the quick”) which can bleed like hell and is VERY painful for the kitty.

Think of it like cutting a persons nails and accidentally nipping part of the flesh.

Just let the vets office handle it or get Soft Paws. I took one of my cats to Pet Smart and they did both front paws for $16.00.

anniereborn's avatar

This cat has known me very well for ten years. She used my mom’s furniture as scratching posts. I know how to avoid the quick, I used to be a dog groomer’s assistant.
I have had cats whose nails I clipped and they didn’t care.

Buttonstc's avatar

Oh, that’s different then. I really had no idea what your experience was with cats :). It’s good you clarified.

The reason I asked about what he scratched on when with your mother is because if there was a favorite piece of furniture that he used, it might be less trouble to just bring it over to your place and keep it where its handy for him but as out of sight as possible (next to the litterbox perhaps?) This might be the least troublesome solution all around for the few years of life he has left.

I had an old recliner with nubby type fabric which was just like a magnet for cats to scratch. They preferred it 10 to one over the scratch post.

So, I just basically turned it into their scratching post (it had only cost me les than $25 at a thrift shop anyway) since they loved it so much. It was downstairs in a spare room with the litterbox and they absolutely loved it.

It also insured that NONE of my other furniture was ever touched since they just loved the rough texture of the fabric on that one chair. Even when I moved I brought it with me. The movers looked at me like I was nuts. But the cats were happy :)

And I was living with the cats NOT the movers, ha ha.

Adagio's avatar

Do its claws actually need cutting? My cat is 16 and I have never cut her claws, mind you she spends a large part of her life outdoors, by choice, so perhaps that mitigates the need.

KaY_Jelly's avatar

@Adagio I actually was wondering the same thing, I barely ever cut my cat’s claws I’ve actually noticed at her age they are brittle and break more easily before I get to them.

@anniereborn I think you will do fine cutting the cats claws, it’s actually getting to that point first.  :/

I think cats are more agile than dog’s and are way easier to control. I also have two dogs 9 and 10 I’ve had them since they were weeks old.

At least the dogs listen to commands.  If a cat decides no it’s a no go.

Take for example everynight I fight with my cat not to sleep behind my back because she doesn’t move and we’ve done this before and I’ve rolled onto my back in my sleep to hear a loud screech from her…scares the crap out of me :/ yet she comes back and continues to do it..sigh until I found another solution that she is happy with.

:-) At least if she was a dog I could make her a bed virtually anywhere tell her to sleep there and she would sleep there.

My makeshift bed for the cat only works temporarily because a few times she’s had enough of the bed and comes right back to my back. :-\

The dogs on the other hand one when my husband was alive I used to have to fight for a spot in my own bed,  
my husband never really helped with that though, in fact he was the oppposite, very encouraging lol god bless his soul, but now that I have the dogs under full control, instead of out of control lol they sleep anywhere, except my bed
(in fact one sleeps on the basement landing usually gets so comfortable her head hangs upside down off the stair, looks way more comfy than trying to fight with me).

So now instead I fight with cat. :-I

—_If only the cat were so easy to teach such pleasures of life to.

Anyway, I understand you know the cat but the cats surroundings are completely different and did you ever cut the cats nails for your mom?

How did your mom do it?

You should do it the exact same way your mom did if she took the cat to the vet then go to the same vet.

If your mother did not go to the vet then I do believe that not only just the fact of you being there is familiar and that’s a point already but you giving love, affection and attention and positivity to the kitty and so in IMHO anything else familiar or that the kitty can learn to accept will help this kitty gain trust quickly and therefore help you attain your goal of clipping this kitties claws…._rome  wasn’t built in a day._ 

KaY_Jelly's avatar

Oh I should of said that I think scratching posts are a great idea. Also I think there is stuff you can buy that you spray on your furniture that deters them from those areas. My cat was my mother’s and luckily for me and unlucky for the cat my mother had her declawed
I know many people think that is cruel I’m a vegan I get it. But she doesn’t seem to even care or notice. In fact she still scratches the furniture. o_O

anniereborn's avatar

I just wanted to thank everyone for their suggestions. I think this will just take time. And yes, cats are def more squirmy and escape more easier than dogs do.

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