HOW to cut cat's nails?

srpjuly

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So I'm trying to train my 6 y/o former stray (was likely born on the street, so she's a finnicky one) with a clicker to do nail trims because she's always catching on everything. It's slow going, but it's going ok. I've gotten to the point of getting her to let me pick up, handle and press on her paws. I know there's thousands of threads, articles and video tutorials about how to cut a cat's nails, but the problem I'm running into is on my end...I have no idea how to get her claws to extend!! Can anyone doodle a little diagram of where exactly I'm supposed to be pressing to get the claws to come out? I'm gently but firmly pressing the top and bottom of the paw at the same time where her claw meets the palm (or where the palm would be on a human haha). I've tried slightly different spots around that area but her claws don't become visible, she just gets irritated and jerks her hand away.

Also, is it possible that it's because I'm sitting in front of her while she is also sitting upright facing me? This is the only way I can do these training sessions because she's a very anxious/traumatized cat who will not let me pick her up or place her on my lap, and the restrain/burrito method is not only impossible but would super detrimental to her ongoing adjustment to indoor life with humans/trust. I've tried while she's sleeping too...she's NEVER deeply asleep and can sense me even coming into her vicinity, wakes up, and fusses and gets up if I try to touch her.

She's scared the crap out of herself so many times because she catches her claw on something that inevitably comes rushing towards her when she tries to pull away (shoes, blankets, cat beds, you name it) and it's so sad, I just want to be able to keep her claws trimmed without a traumatic visit to the vet or groomer (which always results in her not eating normally for days from stress).
 

Furballsmom

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Also, is it possible that it's because I'm sitting in front of her while she is also sitting upright facing me
I think so yes. Even so, keep trying -I don't know how to describe it, but I sometimes have to try two or three times to find the correct place to press to get that claw out. You want to press at the back end of the claw and the front of the paw pad.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. So, she won't sit with her back to you between your legs? That was the easiest way to cut my cat's claws, until she no longer wants to be on the chair with me that I used to sit in. Now, I do her nails from the side while she is laying down.

As far as the nails themselves, the back claws don't really retract as do the front ones, so if they are not really showing a lot, there isn't a whole lot to cut. But you can still press them to get a bit better access using the process described above. The front claws definitely have to be pressed to get good access. Maybe these articles might help some?
How To Best Take Care Of Cat Claws: Beyond Basics - TheCatSite
Should You Trim Your Cat's Back Claws? - TheCatSite
 

Alldara

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You want to press down on the toe bean (at the bottom) and the accompanying spot on the top (directly above).

You can do it from in front of them, that's how I do with Magnus. When my wife finishes work, I'll show you on Coco's foot via video recording.
 

catloverfromwayback

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Will she let you sit beside her? I don't have the trauma or training to overcome with my two, so different, but when I do their claws they're on the bed and I'm sitting beside them, facing the same way, so not approaching their paws from the front.
 

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but the problem I'm running into is on my end...I have no idea how to get her claws to extend!! Can anyone doodle a little diagram of where exactly I'm supposed to be pressing to get the claws to come out?
Here you go -

Press gently on the paw to extend the claw. You may need a little practice before the actually cutting.

IMG_2512.JPG
IMG_2513.JPG



IMG_2514.JPG
 
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Kwik

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Maybe it'll help if you think of those little paws just like a hand- just in case you're not sure what a toe bean is as A Alldara has so accurately explained

Feel the little " fingers' and just above the nail it feels like a flange of a finger,or knuckle - you barely have to squeeze but just wiggle this little knuckle between your thumb and forefinger and the nail will slide forward- like as if it is hinged-so wiggle forward & back movement and the nail will retract .... this is because the movement has to do with the tiny tendons,it is not a sheath

By pivoting that end bone of the toe the claw retracts( extends)- The same action that retracts the claws actually spreads the toes as well- hope that helps to understand how it works,so it's not that you need alot of pressure -just the right movement

May I suggest thst before you attempt any cutting to have some styptic powder on hand- just in case.Accidentally cutting the quick might happen and in the event it does you should be prepared to stop the bleeding as it is a vascular structure and tends to bleed alot (& it's painful)

So it's great that you are preparing to do this properly and getting yourself and kitty comfortable for the occasion..... once you are confident and conformable all four are done in less than 2 minutes
 
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iPappy

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With my cats, I have them in my lap, on their backs, and trim that way but with your girl that would not be a good idea.
When I have a cat nail trim at work, I have found that the least amount of restraint actually works best. When you walk into the room and she wakes up, if you just pet her in her bed does she still get up?
 
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srpjuly

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VID_20230921_183913160.mp4

Hopefully this helps to explain how to get the nail out. I tried to take a second one with Ghost, from the angle you usually use but it won't upload. I'll have to assess later. It might be too long.
THANK YOU! This is sooo helpful. I wish I could get her to let me handle her like that 😪 I have about 3 seconds with her paw before she tugs it away and runs and hides under the bed! Hopefully with more training and now knowing the proper spot to handle I'll be able to give her regular trims so she doesn't have to click clack across the floors anymore haha!
 
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srpjuly

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Maybe it'll help if you think of those little paws just like a hand- just in case you're not sure what a toe bean is as A Alldara has so accurately explained

Feel the little " fingers' and just above the nail it feels like a flange of a finger,or knuckle - you barely have to squeeze but just wiggle this little knuckle between your thumb and forefinger and the nail will slide forward- like as if it is hinged-so wiggle forward & back movement and the nail will retract .... this is because the movement has to do with the tiny tendons,it is not a sheath

By pivoting that end bone of the toe the claw retracts( extends)- The same action that retracts the claws actually spreads the toes as well- hope that helps to understand how it works,so it's not that you need alot of pressure -just the right movement

May I suggest thst before you attempt any cutting to have some styptic powder on hand- just in case.Accidentally cutting the quick might happen and in the event it does you should be prepared to stop the bleeding as it is a vascular structure and tends to bleed alot (& it's painful)

So it's great that you are preparing to do this properly and getting yourself and kitty comfortable for the occasion..... once you are confident and conformable all four are done in less than 2 minutes
Thank you so much for the detailed explanation! That makes sense! I thought that's what I was doing but when that didn't work I moved on to another spot and I only get a couple of seconds per day to practice 😂 But thanks to you I'll have a better idea of the spot to go for, and once I get it once I'm sure it'll come more naturally. Definitely waiting until we are both used to this motion before even attempting to cut!
 
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srpjuly

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Hi. So, she won't sit with her back to you between your legs? That was the easiest way to cut my cat's claws, until she no longer wants to be on the chair with me that I used to sit in. Now, I do her nails from the side while she is laying down.

As far as the nails themselves, the back claws don't really retract as do the front ones, so if they are not really showing a lot, there isn't a whole lot to cut. But you can still press them to get a bit better access using the process described above. The front claws definitely have to be pressed to get good access. Maybe these articles might help some?
How To Best Take Care Of Cat Claws: Beyond Basics - TheCatSite
Should You Trim Your Cat's Back Claws? - TheCatSite
Nope, unfortunately as soon as I even pet her in the wrong spot when she's laying/sleeping somewhere she's up and away, and definitely not on me or between my legs. Thanks for the resources!
 
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srpjuly

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With my cats, I have them in my lap, on their backs, and trim that way but with your girl that would not be a good idea.
When I have a cat nail trim at work, I have found that the least amount of restraint actually works best. When you walk into the room and she wakes up, if you just pet her in her bed does she still get up?
I'm glad to know that less restraint works best! Many people (including my vet) tend to tell me just get it done even if you have to force it, and I feel like I'm letting her down by not being able to bring myself to do that :( And she's too wriggly for it to work anyways!

She'll let me pet her and as time has gone on she's gotten much less fussy about pets and even lets me snuggle my face into her sometimes. But this is very much slow, gentle and on her terms, so as soon as I'm doing anything like holding her paw or even petting for too long/too fast/the wrong spot she feels in danger or not in control anymore and will just walk away. I've tried just placing trimmers near her foot when she's relaxed like this (her back claws are long enough that they stick out a lot without touching them, but not overgrown...yet) and it's ok but as soon as I touch her (not trim) with them her foot JERKS away and she'll usually get up too.
 

iPappy

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I'm glad to know that less restraint works best! Many people (including my vet) tend to tell me just get it done even if you have to force it, and I feel like I'm letting her down by not being able to bring myself to do that :( And she's too wriggly for it to work anyways!

She'll let me pet her and as time has gone on she's gotten much less fussy about pets and even lets me snuggle my face into her sometimes. But this is very much slow, gentle and on her terms, so as soon as I'm doing anything like holding her paw or even petting for too long/too fast/the wrong spot she feels in danger or not in control anymore and will just walk away. I've tried just placing trimmers near her foot when she's relaxed like this (her back claws are long enough that they stick out a lot without touching them, but not overgrown...yet) and it's ok but as soon as I touch her (not trim) with them her foot JERKS away and she'll usually get up too.
For the vet, it probably does work best to use restraint as they have a set amount of time per appointment. Are they able to get it done if the nails get very long?
When she's sleeping very deeply, how does she react if you gently pet her?
 

Kwik

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I've always used a harness with the really scared ones-and yes,I agree with iPappy iPappy that less restraints the better

But as I mentioned,most cats are so preoccupied with the harness (and I keep the leash tucked under my leg ) that before they really know what's happening their nails are all finished!

Your pretty far along with handling this 6yr old ,really- I wouldn't do it everyday though because she'll probably start to get suspicious and want to avoid the sessions if it's too routine-maybd go through the same motions without the intention of practice,they can certainly sense much more than you realize


Thank you so much for the detailed explanation! That makes sense! I thought that's what I was doing but when that didn't work I moved on to another spot and I only get a couple of seconds per day to practice 😂 But thanks to you I'll have a better idea of the spot to go for, and once I get it once I'm sure it'll come more naturally. Definitely waiting until we are both used to this motion before even attempting to cut!
Good,glad to be of help-also,you might want to take her to the groomer in the meantime( does your Vets office have one?) so they don't get too long while your learning

I'd like to know what I'm supposed to do about my newest family member( 7yr old feral ,inside 3 1/2 months)-can't pick him up( yet?) LOL so you are really way ahead of the game!👍😉
 

savannahjansson

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Sure, here's a brief response:

Training a finicky cat to accept nail trims can be a bit challenging, but it's great that you're making progress with handling her paws. To encourage her claws to extend, try gently pressing on the top of her paw, where the pad meets the base of the claw. You can also try massaging this area to encourage the claws to come out.

The sitting position you're using might be affecting her comfort level. If possible, try sitting next to her or at an angle, so she doesn't feel directly confronted. Patience and gradual desensitization will be key to her adjustment. Keep up the good work, and hopefully, you'll be able to trim her nails without stress soon! 🐱💅
 

Alldara

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I've definitely gone no-fear method and breaks.
Calcifer's foster home started this way and I can do all his nails in less than a minute.

Ghost and Magnus were started with pin method and are nervous. Both need breaks.
 
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