Cat Care – Trimming Toenails

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 20,854
    Dr. Candy Olson, owner of Greenbriar Animal Hospital demonstrates how to trim your cats claws.

    Candy Olson

    Dr. Candy Olson graduated from veterinary school in 1978, and has been working as a small animal veterinarian ever since. She started her own practice, Greenbriar Animal Hospital, in Fairfax, Virginia in 1993 with a goal to providing a very personal level of service, like an old fashioned family doctor’s office. The hospital has grown into a busy 2 doctor practice with a full time dog and cat groomer. The practice and Dr. Olson have received several awards for top quality service to her patients and their owners, but what she enjoys the most is fine tuning the day to day care of her patients, and helping their owners cope with medical and behavioral issues that pop up in today’s lifestyles. Dr. Olson is particularly interested in the care of geriatric pets and in pets with multiple medical and/or behavioral problems. She keeps her veterinary knowledge current by reading more than 8 veterinary journals every month, and by attending more than 80 hours of continuing education meetings each year (Virginia requires 15 hours per year). She also serves as a mentor for student veterinary technicians and high school students interested in veterinary medicine. Her hobbies include gardening, travel, and photography (photography is an extended family hobby). Some of her photos and some of her family’s photos are framed and on display at the animal hospital.

    Hi, I am Dr. Candy Olson from Greenbriar Animal Hospital, this is one of my assistants momma, shes helping us out today. This is Chase, hes going to be our demonstration kitty. Were shooting a video on tips for how to take care of your cat at home. This particular section is on how to trim your cats toenails. Couple of important things about trimming your cats toenails, there are a lot of toenail trimmers out there that are readily available. This is the one kind that we dont recommend, it tends to pinch the nails, and it also cuts a little bit more off than you would like, and theyre a little awkward to handle. This kind of a nail trimmer is a lot better, it just sort of looks like a scissors, its a little easier to use. They actually make -- this is a sort of all-purpose one for refer dogs and cats. They make them just for cats that are a little smaller than this. For kittens you can use a regular people finger nail trimmer, or adult cats, theyre nails are just a little too big for that. The important thing with cats is -- but you can see exactly where you should cut on the nail. Im no artist, but follow me along here. If this is the cats fur and this is the nail coming out like this, it actually -- let me turn this for you so you can see it here. The nail comes out and it curves down to a point like so, and where you want to cut it is you want to continue the bottom line of the nail right across and cut it like that. If you do that and you stay parallel to this bottom line, you will never cut it too short, it wont hurt, it wont bleed, because the nerves in the veins, what they call the quick is inside there, just like that. You want to be careful not to angle it up because you could catch the tip there. If you feel little uncomfortable with taking it that short, just take it down there a little bit, so youve got a little bit of a curve on it. The idea when youre done is it should look a little bit like a curve triangle, just kind of like that, and not have that long point. Important thing for cats and their toenails is until they get very elderly, cats can take care of their toenails all by themselves, you dont have to do anything with them. However, a cats idea of a lovely toenail is really long and dagger sharp, so if you want it any other way, you are going to have to trim them. When cats get elderly -- and its one of those hygiene things that sometimes they stop taking care of, so its common for older cats to have to have their nails trimmed, even when they never had to before. So, what were going to do is were going to slide Chase over here to momma, and it does help if you have a second person to help you with this. On the front foot cats have five nails. There are four regular ones, and what they call the little dew claw, which is up here on the side. Its usually the most difficult one to get at because it is on the side. One of the things about trimming the nails is you want to keep the cat in as normal a position as possible.

    So, if youre trimming the nails you dont want to have the foot like this, you dont want to be holding it way out here, thats uncomfortable for him. You can have it forward, or sometimes its a little easier to just fold the foot back like this and do it that way, but occasionally you will run into a cat who has got extra toes, but they always have the minimum five. So, what were going to do is get the hair out of the way here, and were just going to snap that off, so you can see that its straight on the bottom now, and hes purring. It is important to see what youre doing, so you need to part the hair and get it out of the way. The other thing thats important is you dont want to trim the nails if hes moving. If hes moving his foot its really easy to slide that nail trimmer up and accidentally trim too much. Again, you can see with that one, okay, its nice and flat, and the bottom goes straight out. If youre doing this at home I recommend you have somebody like momma here to help you; whether youre actually holding the cat, or just distracting it, whether youre scratching it, whatever youre doing tends to help. If your cat is really into food, sometimes it helps to have a treat to distract it. It also helps to put it up on a surface like this. Something up high and a little slippery, on top of the counter in the bathroom, or on top of the washing machine. Mostly thats to help you make it a little easier, and it does help also to do this on a really regular basis, like every week do one foot. Rather than make it a big ordeal, you just pop them up there, one foot, and then youre done. If youre doing the back, in the back there are just four nails. Most cats object to the front more than the back, some are the other way around, but its the exact same thing with the nail, you can see theres a sharp point on it, and were going to cut it like so, so that now it comes straight out. Like I said, he is actually being very good for this. You can see though how on some of the nails -- this nail is really long, where this one over here was shorter, thats a very typical thing. So, those were some tips on how to trim your cats toenails. Next, were going to be covering litter box tips, some dos and donts to help make sure that your cat uses its litter box regularly, and we will have that for you in a few minutes.