Tips on getting my cat more tolerant to nail trimming?

cmshap

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My cat was declawed before I found him, so he only has rear claws. But clipping them by myself (no other humans here) is always a struggle.

I wrote a response in some other thread about learning how to pill him (see here for that specific post for more background: Cat remembers the gabapentin from the last vet trip and won't eat the pill pockets now. Any other suggestions for his vet appt next week? )

Basically, for pilling I initially did the towel-wrapping thing, made sure he couldn't squirm, etc. But I never could get nail trimming to work using similar techniques.

I've done the exposure to feet touching already. He couldn't care less when I grab his rear feet, or even when I press on the paw pads to extend the claws. But as soon as I use the nail clipper, he starts "bunny-kicking."

Also let him smell the nail clipper first, etc. And I've most successfully (when I've actually been able to accomplish this) done it with a human nail clipper, which is a dedicated one just for him. It's not used on me or anyone else.
 

iPappy

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One of my girls at work is a bear for nail trimming. She's also ridiculously food motivated. I give her an entire can of food, then sneak around and clip her nails as she's inhaling it. She barely even notices!
 
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cmshap

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One of my girls at work is a bear for nail trimming. She's also ridiculously food motivated. I give her an entire can of food, then sneak around and clip her nails as she's inhaling it. She barely even notices!
That's interesting. My cat is also food-motivated and a scarfer. But I have to slow his intake because he is a big vomiter if he eats too fast.

Somehow relating the activity to food, however, is a logical thing to try.
 

iPappy

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That's interesting. My cat is also food-motivated and a scarfer. But I have to slow his intake because he is a big vomiter if he eats too fast.

Somehow relating the activity to food, however, is a logical thing to try.
I went into it hoping to get 2-3 nails done per session but she didn't care and I managed to get them all done 👍. Let us know if it works!
 
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cmshap

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I went into it hoping to get 2-3 nails done per session but she didn't care and I managed to get them all done 👍. Let us know if it works!
That's another good point ... doing just a few at a time.

Usually he lets me do one before the bunny-kicking actually starts. Maybe doing even just one at a time, then giving a small treat, etc.

This would be yet another obnoxious thing to have to do, but it beats having more holes put in my furniture upholstery and clothing as he jumps/plays.
 

rubysmama

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Does he sleep on your lap? That's about the only time I can manage to trim Ruby's nails, and then I'm lucky to get even one done. But if she's in a deep enough sleep, miracles can happen, like the other day when I got both her thumb nails done. :)

Here's the TCS article on How To Best Take Care Of Cat Claws - TheCatSite, if you're interested.
 

tabbytom

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But clipping them by myself (no other humans here) is always a struggle.
You don't have to clip all the nails at one go. Do it as and when your cat allows it and if he does not mind at times, then do all or as many as you can just as what iPappy iPappy mentioned.

I always clip my boy's nails when he's sleeping and drowsy and do as many as I can at one go. The rest I save it for later or the next day. I do it this way as it has no stress on my boy and me.

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cmshap

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You don't have to clip all the nails at one go.
Yeah, and that will also involve needing to keep a clipper within reach of wherever I sit down and he climbs on my lap. Will have to remember to do that.

Also, thanks for those visuals. Can you explain the difference between the first and second angles, and why the second is "wrong"? The third angle is cutting into the quick, but the first two are not.

I know how to recognize the quick already, but never examined the actual cutting angle.
 

tabbytom

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Can you explain the difference between the first and second angles, and why the second is "wrong"?
The second pix is wrong because the claws grows back from a different angle. As the claw/nail is curved downwards, the line of the clipping follows the top of the claw/nail so when it grows long again, it'll be normal.
 

iPappy

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Yeah, and that will also involve needing to keep a clipper within reach of wherever I sit down and he climbs on my lap. Will have to remember to do that.

Also, thanks for those visuals. Can you explain the difference between the first and second angles, and why the second is "wrong"? The third angle is cutting into the quick, but the first two are not.

I know how to recognize the quick already, but never examined the actual cutting angle.
tabbytom tabbytom explained it very well. Also so you know, if you do cut the quick, you will feel bad but it's not life threatening or anything. Apply pressure on the end of the nail with your finger or gauze for as long as he'll tolerate it. I don't think I've ever quicked a cat (their nails are usually white and easy to see), but I have quicked dogs and I use a styptic powder you can find at any pet shop or online (Chewy, etc.) Cornstarch works well, too. Don't aim to get the nails super short, just aim to get that little hook off the end. :)
 
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cmshap

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Update: I am still struggling with this, in fact it is worse than before I started this thread.

I believe it is worse now because I am trying to trim his nails more than before (after starting this thread, it was more on my mind and I was trying to get it done vs. letting it go for convenience). But I'm not pushing it. I'm just trying to do one at a time and leaving him be.

But he has actually gotten less tolerant of me touching his feet now, probably because he knows what is coming. I've never cut the quick, and I am only doing the very tip. But when I manage to trim one, he kicks and jumps off my lap. And then after I wait a while until he is more relaxed, and try to do a second nail, he anticipates it and kicks before I can get near it.

He doesn't try to claw me when he kicks, so I get the impression he doesn't find it painful, but just finds it unpleasant, no matter how gently I try to do it.
 

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Update: I am still struggling with this, in fact it is worse than before I started this thread.

I believe it is worse now because I am trying to trim his nails more than before (after starting this thread, it was more on my mind and I was trying to get it done vs. letting it go for convenience). But I'm not pushing it. I'm just trying to do one at a time and leaving him be.

But he has actually gotten less tolerant of me touching his feet now, probably because he knows what is coming. I've never cut the quick, and I am only doing the very tip. But when I manage to trim one, he kicks and jumps off my lap. And then after I wait a while until he is more relaxed, and try to do a second nail, he anticipates it and kicks before I can get near it.

He doesn't try to claw me when he kicks, so I get the impression he doesn't find it painful, but just finds it unpleasant, no matter how gently I try to do it.
Keep at it! My cats still occasionally kick and it seems like it's more of an involuntary action/ticklish foot thing. Does he kick if you just touch his foot without trying to clip his nails?
 
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cmshap

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Keep at it! My cats still occasionally kick and it seems like it's more of an involuntary action/ticklish foot thing. Does he kick if you just touch his foot without trying to clip his nails?
He actually still tolerates me grabbing his foot, and even pressing on the paw pads just fine. I acclimated him to that over time before I ever started trying to trim his nails, because I read that was a good thing to do (I'd hold his feet for a while and give him a treat).

It is the precise moment when I take a clipper to the nail that he starts to kick. Like I said, he lets me do one, but then gets very suspicious after that for a while, and anticipates the next one earlier than the first one.

I guess I could do it slowly over the course of a whole day or two, but it's hard to keep track of what I've clipped. When I am just clipping the very tip. I can tell if I look closely, but he starts to react so quickly, I don't have much time to examine them.

I also give him access to basically as many treats as he wants during this process but that doesn't really help much.
 

iPappy

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Could you try gently using your fingers to place a tiny amount of pressure on the end of the nail, then immediately let go with some pets?
It sounds very, very dumb but for some dogs or cats that hate having their nails trimmed, I'll "warn" them by saying "One, two, three, *clip*" on each nail. A few of the dogs I groom regularly that I do this for will now slightly tense their foot as I say "three" because they know the clip is coming, and can mentally prepare themselves for it and knowing exactly when it's coming seems to put them more at ease. IDK why, but it really does seem to help some of them.
 

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What clipper are you using? Sometimes the clipper makes the difference.

We actually got a new one and it helped greatly....or you can try sharpening it. Some people prefer the scissor style ones and others the circular ones.

You can also get him used to the sound of the clipper by just clipping it in front of him (without touching his nails. Or recording the sound and playing it. It can be a jarring sound for some cats.

For myself, we do this every two weeks. Same day and the cats know they get treats after. I was lucky and had trained our now late cat this way and they watched him. Magnus has trauma with his toes so he's a bit more difficult, but I always try to get them done in one go just because that works best for us. Calcifer i NEVER stop midway to give a treat because it distracts him. Magnus we do pause for a treat after his front two and then continue his back feet which he hates getting done.

Doing just what the cat will tolerate works great for most cats, but sometimes there's situations like yours that may benefit from getting it all done in one go somehow.


 
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cmshap

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It sounds very, very dumb but for some dogs or cats that hate having their nails trimmed, I'll "warn" them by saying "One, two, three, *clip*" on each nail.
Nothing sounds dumb to try.

He is putting holes in the upholstery of my furniture, because I am just allowing the nails to grow as it is so hard to get them trimmed. I'd love for that to stop.
 

Alldara

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It sounds very, very dumb but for some dogs or cats that hate having their nails trimmed, I'll "warn" them by saying "One, two, three, *clip*" on each nail. A few of the dogs I groom regularly that I do this for will now slightly tense their foot as I say "three" because they know the clip is coming, and can mentally prepare themselves for it and knowing exactly when it's coming seems to put them more at ease. IDK why, but it really does seem to help some of them.
This is excellent advice. We do this with Magnus. I also tell him how many more to go. "Okay all feets. This feet. All done this feet, next feet." Then when he gets really kick-y I say how many toes left and then we are left with, "okay just one more."

Why feets is just to keep words consistent because Magnus has AAC buttons. It's not grammatically accurate but we didn't want to have him running off whenever someone mentioned a foot when we used to have to soak his feet daily.
 
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cmshap

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What clipper are you using? Sometimes the clipper makes the difference.
I am actually using a human nail clipper. I've already been through trying different ones, and a regular human nail clipper he tolerates the best.

It has something to do with the vertical vs. horizontal approach... like the human clipper approaches the foot while pointed straight at it, so it maybe looks smaller? When using a scissors/circular cutter type, you hold it perpendicular to the nail as you cut.

That's just a theory. He has always let me get closer with a human nail clipper before fighting.
 

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He has always let me get closer with a human nail clipper before fighting.
The human clipper may be the issue long term. I used to use one with Nobel and I did note that it requires more pressure and can cause more splitting as they age.

Perhaps something like this would be best as it's the same colour as human ones: Cat Claw Scissors
 
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