Nail Care for Cats

If your cat’s claws get too long, it can cause problems ranging from injury to infection. Regular nail care keeps her comfortable and helps prevent scratches.

by Nadia Ali

People often bite their fingernails — some occasionally, some out of habit, and some obsessively. Cats do the same thing. You may have seen your own kitty chewing away at her claws as if she’s a professional manicurist. There are reasons why she does this, some that are normal and some that aren’t. Either way, it’s a reminder that proper nail care is as important for cats as it is for dogs and people.

Gnawing her claws?

Cats will naturally groom their claws. You will see your kitty routinely tugging, chewing, or licking her nails. This behavior is normal if it’s not excessive. Generally, she is trying to remove debris or the shabby outer layers of her nails.

If your cat seems to chew at her claws obsessively, however, it signals a problem such as an infection or injury.

Note: When a cat’s nails get too long, they can become ingrown, causing pain, difficulty walking, and even infection.

Have a look at all four of your cat’s paws to see if there is any bleeding, swelling or other symptoms of an issue, and take her to the vet to get to the root of the problem.

Even if all is normal, it’s still important to make regular nail care a

part of your cat’s health regimen. This includes clipping her nails, when needed, and providing her with places to scratch.

Tips on clipping

If your cat’s nails get too long, they can snag on carpeting or upholstery when she’s walking, potentially causing injury. Too-long claws also mean you’re more apt to get scratched or punctured when you’re playing with your cat, or even while she’s sitting on your lap. These are all signs that her claws need clipping.

The Humane Society recommends clipping your cat’s nails every few weeks. Veterinarian Dr. Amy Flowers agrees, saying that it’s best to get your kitty into the routine of having her nails clipped every two weeks or so.

The hardest part of clipping your cat’s nails is to get her to sit still. It’s best to have someone hold her while you clip to avoid accidents.

Note: Always use a nail clipper specifically designed for cats – never use your own or those made for dogs.

Feline nail clippers help you better see what you’re doing, and the longer plier-type handles work well for quick snips.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Wrap your cat in a towel or blanket, leaving out the one paw you are about to clip.
  2. Gently press the paw pad to extend the nails.
  3. Locate the quick and move the clipper below that area. You need only clip the tip of the nail; cutting the quick causes pain and bleeding.
  4. Position the clippers perpendicular to the nail so you are cutting it at a slant. A flush cut is likely to split or splinter the nail.

Note: If your cat growls or hisses, it can create pressure to get the job done fast. Be patient and don’t rush. If you are only able to clip a few nails at a time, that’s fine. Try again another day.

Keeping tabs on your cat’s nail health, and clipping them when they get too long, means she’ll be more comfortable, your household furnishings will be in better shape, and you’ll be less likely to get scratched!


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