Monday, March 16, 2009

Is Clipping Claws Getting You Nailed?

By Daniel Quagliozzi
clawing couch

You've tried it over and over again but still...your cat will not let you get near those claws! It becomes a game of hide and seek, real quick. What are you supposed to do, let your cat scratch up your brand new Ikea couch? Alas, there are many solutions to your situation that may surprise you.
Trying to trim a cats claws can be very stressful, both to you and your cat. We've all been there, breaking a sweat while attempting to trim nails without hurting the cat, but the squirming and protesting is just too much.


On a long term and routine basis, it's very helpful to give your cat a toe massage just to desensitize the feeling of the clipping. This could take a very long time, but it's well worth the lack of hassle in the end.

Providing alternatives to your furniture is key. If a cat has choices, it's more likely to scratch on materials that are appealing and allowed to stay "trashed" as a result. Cats need to see and smell their territory and the first way they do this is by scratching.


Different felines prefer different scratching surfaces. If you're not sure what your cat prefers, offer your cat a choice such as carpeting, wood, a rope-wrapped board (sisal) or corrugated cardboard (these last two can be found at pet supply stores). Once your cat has clearly “voted” with its feet, supply that kind of material. Simultaneously, make the furniture or other inappropriate scratching surfaces unattractive. Cats hate sticky stuff, so apply double-sided tape (from any hardware or office supply store) to old favorite scratching surfaces. There is also a product made for this purpose called Sticky Paws


If you want to try doing nail trim yourself, the first thing you can try is using a partner to restrain the cat while you trim. A second person can "scruff" the cat by holding the loose skin behind the cats head and also firmly holding the back legs. This will leave the cat pinned on its side and unable to squirm. Then, the trimmer goes for the gold by gently depressing the paw pads and trimming the claws just before the "quick". That's the pink part of the claw that will often bleed if cut too close. Most cats will submit and let this happen, others will still struggle and fight....Thats where the SFSPCA Cat Behavior Program comes in!

If you have one of those very special cats that protests to the extreme and scratches or bites as a result... or a well behaved cat that needs a monthly trim, you can let us be the "bad guy". The SFSPCA has a Cat Claw Clipping Clinic that happens twice a month. If you can get your cat in a carrier (see our blog on carrier training) then we can try our best to get those claws trimmed for you.

Clinics are the first Sunday of each month from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m., and on the third Wednesday of each month from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Clinics are conducted at The SF/SPCA Spay Neuter Clinic located in the Leanne B. Roberts Animal Care Center, 201 Alabama St.

No appointment is necessary, but you must confine cats in carriers.

The cost is $10.00 for the front claws and $15.00 for all four feet.

Give the Cat Behavior Program a call at 415 522-3525: if you have any questions about our clinic or cat clipping in general.

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