Welcome to a journey exploring how to best take care of cat claws. These retractable tools of nature are more than what meets the eye. They come in handy for climbing, gripping, or even self-defense. There is definitely a science to their care.
In this article, we will cover all the details of cat claws. We'll discuss their structure, growth, and why cats scratch certain surfaces. Additionally, we'll talk about clipping cat claws and why it's so essential, especially for indoor cats. We'll also help you understand your cat's grooming needs better and how you can assist them.
We will stress why declawing cats is not recommended, and the legal issues surrounding this controversial procedure. Plus, we'll reveal some tips on how you can build a bond with your pet while caring for their claws.
Whether you're a new cat parent or just seeking more insights about your fluffy companion's unique physiology, this article is for you. So, are you ready to unravel the secrets of your pet's claws? Scroll down and let's dig in!
Peeling Back The Layers: Understanding Cat Claws
The cat's claws, complex retractable appendages, are usually withdrawn within their sheathes above the toe pads. The cat may extend its claws when necessary in order to climb, grip, or defend itself.
The visible part of the claw is made up of two main parts:
- The center of the claw is called the "quick," which contains the nerve endings and blood vessels nourishing the claw.
- The claw's outer cover, which is made of layers of material called keratin.
The claw grows throughout the cat's life. It is renewed continuously as the older outer layers wear down. To facilitate this process, cats need to scratch objects made of wood or other similar materials.
For cats living outdoors, there is the additional natural wearing of the claws caused by digging or walking on various rough surfaces.
Indoor cats experience less natural erosion. They may try to further wear down their claws by scratching such things as doors, wooden or upholstered furniture, rugs, bookbindings, or other such objects.
Another problem occurs when claws grow too long, which may cause undesirable scratches on the cat's human "family." In such cases, the cat's claws can be clipped once every few weeks.
Clipping The Claws
Cats' claws are shortened using special clippers or sharp nail scissors. It is very important to clip only the tip of the claw and not to cut into the quick.
The claw should be examined before a light source to clearly differentiate between the pink part - the center or quick of the claw containing the blood vessels - and the whitish clear part. Then you can carefully trim the white tip of the claw, keeping a safe distance from the quick.
It is better to clip away a smaller part of the claw more often than risk hitting the sensitive center of the claw, which can cause the cat both great pain and bleeding. If you have doubts about how to clip the claws properly, you should consult a veterinarian, asking her to demonstrate the process for you.
Scroll down to learn how to get your cat to cooperate during claw clipping time.
Note that the person in these pictures is using a nail clipper rather than a claw clipper designed for pets. You may find it easier to use a pet-specific clipper -- click here for suggestions.
Getting your cat used to the idea: making friends with the paw
Cats need to feel comfortable with having their claws touched and their nails extended. So, whenever you get a chance, massage your cat’s paws gently. Start with a short time, when they are relaxed or sleepy, and after a while, they will really enjoy their ‘paw massages’.
If they like treats, give them one afterward. If grooming is their thing, do that immediately afterward. This positive reinforcement will help the process.
Once your cat is happy for you to do a paw massage you’re ready to try clipping. When he or she is really relaxed, start with just one claw. Make sure you extend the claw fully: place your index finger underneath one toe and your thumb over the top of the toe and squeeze your fingers together gently.
As we’ve said before, it is essential that you avoid the ‘quick’; the pink part. If you cut into it, it may well stop them from allowing you to touch their paws.
Once the claw is cut, use your positive reinforcement (treat, grooming, scratch under the chin.. whatever works for your cat). On the next day do two claws. Then try three.
If your cat is responding well, then keep going. If not, stop at the point where you know your cat has had enough and immediately use positive reinforcement. Remember you don't have to trim all the claws at once.
In declawing, the veterinarian must remove part or all of the end joints of each of the cat's toes. This surgery is very painful, causing cats much suffering for weeks. After the surgery, cats have difficulties walking and using their litter box for a time.
Some experts - and indeed many owners - claim that, in the long run, this surgery causes distortion of the cat's spine. This is because the removal of the last phalanx of the toes changes the cat's posture, making it move in an unnatural manner.
It is also claimed that declawed cats are more inclined to defecate outside of the litter box in the house.
For all these reasons:
Cats should not be declawed!
In fact, in many countries around the world, including Britain, surgical declawing is illegal. In the United States, too, there is growing public demand to legally ban the surgical declawing of cats, since this procedure borders on abuse.
Before you consider having such an operation performed on your cat, think - would you be willing to have the upper joint of each of your fingers and toes amputated?
Wrapping Up: Our Journey Through Cat Claw Care
We started a fun adventure learning about cat claws. These hidden tools help cats climb, grip, and protect themselves.
We looked closely at the cat claws. Additionally, we learned about the 'quick' - the center of the claw with nerves and blood vessels - and the outer cover made from a material called keratin. Finally, we found out that cats always grow new claws, replacing the old ones that wear down.
We saw that outdoor cats naturally wear down their claws, but indoor cats need to find other ways to do this. Sometimes, they might scratch things they shouldn't, which is why trimming their claws can be a good idea.
We learned how to trim cat claws carefully. We found out how important it is to make our cats feel safe and happy while we do this. With a lot of patience and some treats, we can help our cats get used to having their claws trimmed.
We also talked about declawing. This is a surgery that can hurt cats a lot and cause them problems. That's why many places do not allow this surgery.
In our adventure, we learned that taking care of our cats' claws isn't just good for their health, it's also a great way to get to know them better and build a strong, loving bond with them.
Whether you've had cats for a long time or just got your first kitten, we hope you found this guide to cat claws helpful.
Remember, every moment you spend taking care of your cat's claws helps you and your cat understand each other better and leads to a happy life together.
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