How to trim kittens nails??

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Alicat624
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How to trim kittens nails??

Post by Alicat624 » Sat Nov 21, 2020 10:00 pm

Hello I have 2 four-month-old kittens and have always trimmed previous cats nails on my own from the time I got them as kittens. I’ve only had these guys for about a month, and I’ve tried trimming their nails 3 times, the same way I used to do it, with no luck. Placing them on my lap on their back‘s doesn’t seem to be working as they squirm too much, claw at me, and try to bite me. Other suggestions?

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by Mollycat » Sat Nov 21, 2020 10:40 pm

Not saying don't but why do you do it? Have you weighed up pros and cons, or is it just what a good cat owner is supposed to do?
I have never trimmed cats claws at all.

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by fjm » Sun Nov 22, 2020 8:14 am

I have never trimmed nails on a kitten or young cat - I did for an elderly cat when they would get overlong. Cats use their claws so much, for climbing and defence especially, that it seems a bit unwise, and given the way their claws grow, sloughing off the blunted shell to reveal the sharp new needle, rather pointless too (sorry for the inadvertent pun!). I'd just give them plenty of scratching posts, and redirect them there from the furniture.

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by booktigger » Sun Nov 22, 2020 9:18 am

I've never tried putting cats on their backs to clip claws, I normally kneel on the floor with them between my legs to restrain them and that works

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Ruth B
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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by Ruth B » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:52 am

I've never had to do it for young cats, but I have as they got older, I find the back claws far harder than the front ones. Normally I would have them on a secure, but not necessarily firm surface, a table, my knee, the bed etc. and then with three paws remaining in contact with what ever they are standing on just lift one paw and trim some of those claws, normally i use my left arm to hold them against me while my right had wields the clippers. i do prefer the side clippers we have for plastic model making rather than the normal ones sold for clipping claws.
I've never put them on their back to do it.
While I don't clip the younger cats claws, i do spend time getting them used to being held like that while I spread the paw to expose the claws and check them with my fingers as it helps prevent struggles when they are older and it needs doing.

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by booktigger » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:57 am

Oh yes, I find it easier to use human nail clippers than pet ones. I normally do Lucy's before a vet visit, as she has only had once since March, we have got out of the habit. I dont touch back claws though

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by Ruth B » Sun Nov 22, 2020 11:33 am

I've had several cats that have had very long back claws when they got older, including Tiggy, my 18 year old, I guess as they don't go out as much they don't wear them down the same way.
I also knew one cat who, as he got older, had one of his dew claws actually grow around and back into him, that was a vet's visit to get sorted, and probably when I really started checking and clipping claws when needed.

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by booktigger » Sun Nov 22, 2020 11:39 am

I've never had that issue with back claws, even with cats who rarely went out, but my second cat ended up with her claws growing in her pads, it's why I monitor them regularly.

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by Mollycat » Sun Nov 22, 2020 12:33 pm

Cats' claws don't wear down and they are not supposed to, that's why they are retractable. If they weren't, they would wear like a dog's.

The front four claws (ignore the 'thumb' or dew claw for now) are for raking, scratching and also holding. They must be razor sharp and in perfect condition with the associated retracting gear of tendons and ligaments all strong, toned and fit. All this is achieved by the stropping action of scratching, but it's not a sharpening in the way a knife blade is sharpened. Claws are fingernails, in a different shape, and they grow in the same way. But as the outer layer gets old it dies off like the top layer of skin does, and comes off, revealing the razor sharp new layer underneath. Mostly this comes off in the scratch post but sometimes in your carpet or other soft furnishings. If you look carefully at one, the point is thick and sharp, the wide end is really thin where it has just peeled off the fresh claw.

The dew claw is interesting, seemingly useless but can be very important especially in hunting and for grooming the face. These are especially prone to ingrowing, and the reason for that is the cat doesn't keep them quite as tip-top as the rest, because of where they are. On the inside of the curve of the claw is a softer material, just like the skin we get growing under our fingernails. It gets bunged up, the old claw layer doesn't get pulled away, and gradually material builds up. The live claw keeps on growing in the claw curve shape, pushing all this round and back on itself where it grows back into the cat's paw causing excruciating pain and needing a vet's careful intervention. But the same process happens on the other claws if the cat doesn't scratch to maintain them. Clipping can interfere with this process and make the build-up of claw and soft material worse. The soft material can be scraped out gently if your cat lets you, before it hardens and causes problems.

Then, if the tendons and ligaments aren't stretched and kept in shape, they get slack. This happens as the cat gets old, too, but it happens much younger if the claws keep getting clipped. Reason being, if the claws are short, the cat doesn't need to pull them in so tight to walk around without snagging, so they get weaker faster.

On the back the two middle claws are long and very thick, and their function is to dig in. You see this when a cat is having a really good go on a scratch post, they curl their back toes to dig in and stop the stropping action from pulling their whole body forwards. They are also used to rake at their opponent's belly when fighting while they hold onto them with the front, a behaviour you see replicated if your cat is into the big rustly or noisy huggy Kong type toys. Some cats also kill or play with small prey like this. Think of the back as like a cheetah's claws, only semi-retractable. They also give extra grip when sprinting. To keep these in good condition, cats bite them and pull the dead layer or casing off with their teeth.

There are also lots of good reasons in favour of clipping claws, but too often owners have reasons based on incorrect information or without thinking about it at all.

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by Ruth B » Sun Nov 22, 2020 1:13 pm

I would have thought the back claws would wear down a bit as they only semi retract, not as much as a dogs, but certainly a bit when they are walking on hard surfaces like paving slabs (cats aren't expected to walk long distance on the pavement, so that probably also plays a roll). The front ones certainly don't as, like you say they are retracted unless being used for grip.
I've actually seen the dew claw get used a lot when a cat is balancing on a branch or narrow fence and all five claws on each paw are being used to grip.
I would guess as the cat gets older they don't work their claws as much either by scratching or by maintaining them themselves which is why older cats do need them clipping a bit. The number of times I gone to clip the tip of a claw and had it shatter under the pressure of the clippers. it scared me at first, but then I realised that the claw underneath was fine and I was just doing what the cat would have soon, removing the old claw sheath for them. I've noticed Tiggy isn't grooming as much as she used to, I'm having to spend more time on her coat than I did, so it's no real surprise if she isn't pulling the dead claw sheaths off her back claws like she did when she was younger, or scratching at the carpet and fence posts.
Yes the two middle back claws are big and powerful, perfect for disemboweling small prey, or the owners hand.

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by Alicat624 » Sun Nov 22, 2020 2:22 pm

I would never not consider trimming my cats nails because they get caught and everything. Never would I declaw though.

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by Alicat624 » Sun Nov 22, 2020 2:23 pm

Don’t they bite you in that position?

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by Alicat624 » Sun Nov 22, 2020 2:29 pm

Also my cats are indoor only.

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by Ruth B » Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:48 pm

If they are indoor only make sure they have plenty of sturdy scratching posts and boards, both horizontal and vertical surfaces, and i would suggest having a variety of materials. cardboard and carpet ones as well as the normal sisal ones. Different cats like different surfaces.

I guess if the cat is used to having its paws handled and knows it won't get hurt it doesn't matter what position they are in, they won't bite you. Before you worry about trimming them too much spend time each day getting them used to having the paws handled and reward them afterwards, as long as there is never a negative association formed and lots of positive ones, you should be able to do it however you want in the future.

I am so glad to hear you would never consider declawing, here in the UK it is actually illegal to declaw a cat unless there is a medical reason it has to be done, or very occasionally the vets Governing Body can give permission in very exceptional circumstances. In the end it is amputating part of the paw, and you only ever amputate if you really have to.

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Re: How to trim kittens nails??

Post by Mollycat » Sun Nov 22, 2020 8:48 pm

Yes that's just it Ruth claws are so much more than many people appreciate.

Alicat - mine are indoor only too, one of mine had to relearn to walk on carpet when I got him but I never trim - that's ok we make our decisions and as long as our cats are all well, healthy and happy whatever we prefer is fine (except declawing but then they wouldn't be fine!). What happens is with their claws untrimmed they make that extra little effort to pull them back fully and they don't snag until they get old and out of shape. I fell out with my local vet for clipping my boy's claws without my permission and then instead of apologising tried to justify themselves, turning a very small thing about permission into a massive issue where I didn't feel I could entrust my cats to their care again. There's no right or wrong to trim or not, just that some people do it without realising there can be pros and cons and it's not a have-to thing.

Anyway as for your original question sorry I'm no help at all on this one :)

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