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Best way to clip nails?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I took in Snickers about a week ago, and while he's let me brush him since then, his nails are just a menace. He won't let me handle his paws (unless he's "holding" my hand when he's sitting with me). I've been trying every evening when he's calm to try to just touch them, but he really isn't crazy about it. Is there any way to make the whole process easier? I don't just want to jump in and try to cut his nails since he's a former stray and obviously not used to it; the notion of him freaking out and clawing me isn't one that I exactly relish!
post #2 of 21
Getting him used to you holding his paw, and then used to pushing out his nails, is probably the best way to go about doing it. Maybe someone else will have advice, because I have one cat whose nails I trim and one cat who is simply too skittish; I do not trim her nails. (Actually, I got two nails in the past month from trims on the sly as she was sleeping - the trimmings were greatly separated in time and don't seem to have worked to make her more comfortable with trimming.)
post #3 of 21
I think I have it easy when It come to trimming nails but what I did is started out rubbing her front paws and feeding her treats. After a week of this she was fine with me touching her. Then I would lay her on her back and clipped all her nails. Then she got a treat after.
When She see's the clippers now she just lays down and rolls on her back, she is such a good girl.

You can always wrap you cat in a blanket and have someone hold him while you cut the nails. We have to do this with my roommate outdoor cat because he hates being touched.
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
I keep trying every night to just hold his paws, if he'll let me. Sometimes he does, and sometimes he doesn't. I've been giving him a treat if he lets me at least touch them. Last night, he let me hold one, but only for a moment. The second I started messing with his toes, he decided he didn't like it.

I was thinking about wrapping him in a towel, too. I just don't want to traumatize him too much, being that he's only been in the house for a week! :-)
post #5 of 21
We scruff and cut here--occasionally they'll allow us to cut otherwise but rarely. They don't run afterwards, so it isn't traumatizing (sp) them, we've had Jack since he was a baby and we never could get him adjusted to the task--we failed miserably with him as a kitten, he hates brushing as well.

post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
So far I've been lucky - Snickers loves to be brushed (he even lets me brush his belly, although it's only for a minute). I did manage to give him a bath today without anywhere near the fuss I expected, so I think I'll wait for another day when I have another moment of bravery to try to do his nails.
post #7 of 21
A lot depends on the cat. My former cat would never allow me to clip her nails, although she would let me hold her paws briefly.

My current boy is a very laid back cat, but he doesn't like his nails clipped. So I do just one or two at a time over a period of days. He will usually let me do a couple (tonight I got 4!) before he resists. I don't want to force it, and it seems to work OK this way.
post #8 of 21
Handling their paws and extracting their nails may help. If your cat absolutely hates it though, you may need someone else to help you. You can also get your local groomer to cut your cat's nails. Most cats won't let their owner's near them with the clippers but when they are brought to the groomers they are able to be done. Don't take them to the vet to be clipped. Vet's way overcharge for nail clippings plus they weren't properly trained to cut nails.
post #9 of 21
Make a cat burrito. Wrap kitty in a towel and do one paw at a time while the other paws are secure in the towel. Less wiggle room, easier time. I also clean ears that way.
post #10 of 21
I have always done my cats nails until Zoey. She is impossible to deal with! We have 2 vets in our tiny town. I flip a coin and off she goes to the first one that wants to deal with her! I get charged 11.00 and it's worth every penny. Zoey is bad bad bad naughty when it comes to trimming nails!!
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'm praying my next cat is used to having its nails cut, but if not....I'll definitely keep all this in mind. If it's a case of not wanting me to, I might just go the groomer route and let them handle it! :-)
post #12 of 21
Can you touch the paws wheile alseep? That and when they are really relaxed, try to touch and play with the paws. Mine struggle a bit at first. Then after a minute they calm down and its over A little struggle is ok, how else will they learn? That is also how Kitty learned to tolerate being held.
post #13 of 21
Originally Posted by cococat View Post
Make a cat burrito. Wrap kitty in a towel and do one paw at a time while the other paws are secure in the towel. Less wiggle room, easier time. I also clean ears that way.
How exactly is this done? Do you cover the whole cat head and all, or just wrap the body? I can't cut my cats nails either and am guessing trying to wrap her up in a towel would be an ordeal in itself!
post #14 of 21
While I'm far from a kitty nail clipping expert, this is how I got Niko used to me clipping his nails. I'm a first time cat owner, and I read many posts on here before I felt comfy to even attempted it. Pardon ahead of time for the long winded response, I just wanted to be as specific as possible.

1. First, I made it a point to stroke and touch his paws while he was snuggled next to me or while giving scritches an' loves. I took it slow, not wanting to spook him too fast. I kept doing that periodically and casually until he stopped flinching or pulling back his paws when I went to touch them. When he was sure I wasn't going to hurt his toes, I then started handling the pads and seeing how long he'd let me push out the nails (just press down gently on the pad as if you're handling one of those car key remote entry thingies).

2. I then started introducing the clipping instruments, letting him sniff them and rub his scent on them so they didn't seem like foreign contraptions of doom. I've tried three types of clippers; scissor type, guillotine type, and finally, just a pair of human toenail clippers. He was cool with the scissors, but the cut wasn't very clean. The guillotine just freaked him out, as it was a bit large.. and for me, a little unwieldy. My fav are the toe nail clippers, as they're unimposing and I get a clean cut. I hold he clipper so that the blades are vertical, as opposed to how you would do you're own nails as I find it less likely to 'crush' the nail.

3. I then waited until he was calm and comfy- you don't wanna try to clip the nails of a cat who is in play mode/hyper- it just doesn't work. I found the best time to clip his nails are when he comes looking for affection, as opposed to a random ambush. I layed down beside him and wrapped an arm over top him, so that his rear was tucked in my armpit. I held his paw with that hand, while the other wielded the clippers. I was sure to speak softly and calmly, telling him what a good boy he was. A trick that worked when he was still iffy about it all, was keeping a few treats within the palm of the hand holding the clippers. The moment he'd let me do one nail, I'd let one treat drop. They're also less likely to try to run away if they can smell that there are treats close by.

I only nip the tips off, as opposed to trying to get as far down as I can before getting to the quick, as it's much less 'invasive' for him. Also, any pressure exerted on the nail itself is minimized.

As a side note, while he's now comfortable with me clipping his front paws' nails, he's still not too crazy about me touching his back feet. Luckily, though, he seems to take care of those himself.. I catch him regularly chewing on his back claws, trimming them down. I've managed to clip them two or three times since I've had him, but I noticed that the more I clipped them, the quicker they became razor sharp.. so now, out of preference, I only concentrate on his front paws. Once, I attempted the 'burrito' method in order to get at his back feet, and honestly, it was more stressful than it was worth. This was a year ago, and to this day, the blanket I used to wrap him up is his arch nemesis. He won't even come near it, and if I happen to be carrying it, he runs and hides from me... he NEVER hides from me any other time.

Anyhoo, I hope this helps.
post #15 of 21
The secret is in having confidence. Cats are very sensitive to your state of being, so if you're panicky about getting clawed, they'll go insane. I realized this one night when I had one too many to drink and decided to clip my cats nails. Something about the martinis I had made me clip their nails better than I had ever done in my entire lifetime. Then I realized it was because I had no fear of getting hurt, I just grabbed those paws with authority and nothing was going to get in my way. Just do it with confidence and you'll be fine.
post #16 of 21
I know you said you are going slow.... but honestly slow is not slow enough when working with a formal feral...

My advice (though you have alot already, lol) is to start small, very very VERY small. I have a formal feral that still acts very feral, she wants very little human interaction, and I used these steps to get to the point that I can cut her nails. I don't know about scruffing her... if you don't do it just right and she flips out you could end up bloody. I have caught ferals by hand several times (by scruffing them), and 2 of those times I did not do it just right and ended up getting very very bad bites and scratches.

Get some tuna in water or her fav wet food. Approach her slowly speaking softly (unless she doesn't like to be talked too). Dip one finger in it and smear it on the top of her paw, repeat 10-15 times. Do this at least once a day, maybe twice. Do that for 3-4 days. The whole point of this is to make her think that you touching her paw is a good thing, and the tuna is her reward for letting you touch her feet. Do this with ALL feet.

Next try to just put one finger on her paw, (do not apply any pressure yet) until she moves it away, do this whenever she is snuggling with you, sleeping, or whenever. Eventually she will just sit there with your finger on her paw (may take a week or more). You can giver her treats too, or do this while she is eating.

Then progress to holding her paw.... when she is OK with that then apply a tiny bit of pressure.... until she is OK with that, next start progressing the pressure (slowly) until it is enough to expose her claws (don't forget to do all steps with each foot).

Next step is to start holding her nail and lightly pull/push it-just like the clippers do when they squirm-the first few times you clip her nails she will squirm.... but it will get better with every nail cutting session if it is done right.

If she starts to get annoyed in any of these steps, and refuses to cooperate go back a step and go from there. You really have to know when she is ready for the next step, it is different with every cat. And if you try to go to the next step too fast you could end up at square one.

Good luck, and let us know what method you are going to use, and progress!
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
So far, I've been stroking Harley's paws every night when she climbs up in my lap - she has this thing about putting her paws across my chest like she's hugging me, so it makes it pretty easy. She'll put up with it for a short time, and then she starts to get annoyed (that's when I start getting smacked with her tail), so I've been stopping at that point. She still doesn't want me touching her back paws at all.
post #18 of 21
There is a lot of great advice here. I started clipping Chandler Ray at 3 weeks, when he was asleep (with fingernail clippers). Lilly-Rose was a problem, and I would just do one paw at a time. The having confidence part is really important. Tweety was a feral and rarely snuggles with me so I haven't been able to get him. Sometimes, putting them on a flat surface works. Aragorn had been badly hurt by someone else regarding nail clipping. What finally worked was I would put him in my lap, lay his front paws on the arm of the chair and he would let me do it that way. He didn't have a problem with his back ones, especially when he realized I wasn't going to hurt him.

I also used to clip my neighbors' cat for them. I made them stay far away until they were calmed down. The cat was fine if they weren't freaking out. They've finally learned to do it themselves.
post #19 of 21
I agree with the above too, you have to not be afraid/anticipating a bite... the cat WILL sense your state of mind and feed off of it.

They think like this: if YOU are afraid-THEY need to be afraid. Same with most emotions.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
So far, no luck with nail-trimming. I've been able to touch the tops of Harley's paws on a pretty regular basis. But she still balks if I go to pick up her feet. I've shown her the clippers (which she's of course rubbed her face all over), and I've sat with treats in one hand. All that made her do was try to figure out a way to try to get them out of my closed hand! I think she knows I'm up to something.

I always try NOT to think about being bitten/scratched. Cats are like every other animal in that they are intuitive about picking up on emotions. But the thought does cross my mind that if she decides to freak out in the middle of me trying to cut her nails....well...I'm going to get hurt something good because her nails are so long. The ones that worry me the most are the ones on her extra thumbs - they're longer than all of her other nails because they just don't get used.

I'm kind of out of luck in that I have to try to do it alone; my hubby is at work at night, and that's usually when Harley decides she wants to hang out with me. And my poor husband, while he likes her, is just not "in tune" with animals. I have this feeling that if he tried to help me, he'd make it worse! Harley doesn't quite trust him yet, either - she is just starting to want to come near him, and I'd hate to undo that.

I'm determined to cut her nails, though, so I'll just keep trying.
post #21 of 21
Heres what we do.
FH sits on the bed, picks up Morgan and holds her in his arms
I give her a treat and while she's busy with the treat I pick up her paw and massage it until she's done.
Then I cut a few nails and give her another treat. This goes on until all her nails are cut and such.

She only gets treats when we do her nails. She knows that if she's good she gets treats.
Luna the same except she'll let me do her nails without treats.
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