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Grooming your cat – How is it done?

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Grooming your cat is very important to their health, not just their appearance.  Cats hate having their nails too long as they snag on things and cause pressure on their paws when they walk.  Matted fur can also be uncomfortable and make them itch.

Clipping nails is a very delicate process and one that you shouldn’t do until you’ve had proper training.  A cat’s nails have cuticles or a “quick” just like a human’s, so cutting them too close can mean extreme pain for the cat.  And if you cut them in a way that interferes with the natural curve this will mean ragged nails that also get snagged on the carpet.  Usually it’s better to have a professional groomer do this or ask for specific instructions if necessary.

Here are tips on clipping your cat’s nails:

  • Stroke your cat’s paws when you’re holding him so that he gets used to having his paws held.  Cats are defensive of their paws since they need these to protect themselves, so slowly and gently get them accustomed to having their paws held and stroked.
  • Trim their nails when they’re relaxed and even sleepy.  They’ll be less likely to resist.  Never try to trim their claws when they’re energetic or right after you’ve played with the cat.
  • Gently press down on the pad of the feet to stretch it out and reveal the claws.  This will keep the skin of the foot itself out of harm’s way.
  • Speak very soothingly to your cat and stroke his head while you do this.  Make it seem like you’re just bonding, not as if you’re doing something traumatizing to him.  Remember that cats can pick up on your level of tension, so make sure you’re relaxed as well.
  • Many people have a tendency to cut the nails across which will mean they’re prone to more splitting and ripping.  Instead they should be cut from top to bottom; notice how a cat’s claws have a tendency to curve this way naturally.
  • Most owners trim only the front claws as the back claws are not typically very sharp.  Cats also groom their own claws by chewing on them and by scratching so the back ones are usually fine by themselves.
  • If your cat resists, let him go.  Don’t make trimming his claws a stressful event.  Try again the next day and get a few more claws.  Many owners find that they need three or four days to get all the claws, and this is fine.  They only need to be done typically every other week, so it shouldn’t be an unmanageable chore for you.

If your cat absolutely resists, take him to a professional groomer or vet.

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