I started claw clipping with my previous cat: a rescue Burmese, who came with a load of kit (her beds, her litter tray and even food). Amongst the equipment were some cat claw clippers, so I started clipping her claws. She was a 10-year-old cat, when she first arrived, and whilst she did go out, she didn’t do enough to wear her claws down gradually. She was clearly used to claw clipping, so it was all fairly easy, although it was new to me and we’d had cats pretty much all my life. My parents’ cat had a particular liking for wearing his claws down on the washing line prop (which seemed to be very effective) and it still bears the scars today.
When my current cats came to us as kittens I got them used to claw clipping very early on. They always have access to a scratching post (which they do use) and they do go outside (although not a lot). It’s usually obvious that they need clipping because their claws start getting stuck in soft furnishings or on my clothes. They seem to find it frustrating and there is the potential for health problems if they overgrow: pain or infection.
So how do you do it? I usually do it outside on the garden table. This gives me good light and a clear view, plus it’s easy to just brush the clippings away. The key thing is to avoid cutting the claws down to the quick (this is the live part of the claw with a blood vessel and it will show as slightly pink). This is very easy to do and in the 20 years I’ve been claw clipping, I’ve only once drawn blood by cutting a little low and it was only a few drops. It’s important to buy a good quality clipper and make sure it remains sharp. I’m on my second pair of clippers and I only replaced because I lost the other pair. If you have a pet with stronger claws, or more pets, or ones that need claw clipping more frequently, you might need to replace more often. Our cats need claw clipping about once a month or so I find, so the clippers don’t get a lot of use.
I have my cat in front of me on the table and I pick up the front paws whilst their back paws are resting on the table. I then pick them up to do the back claws making sure I have a good stable hold of their bottom end, so they feel secure. I am able to do this on my own without any assistance, although one cat is more compliant that the other. Clearly not every cat will tolerate this and it is key to start them early. I do find that sometimes the front paws need doing, but the back ones are ok.
Claw clipping at home is easy and cheap to do, if you start it early in a cat’s life. Visits to the vets to get it done will be more expensive and more stressful for your cat, but obviously that would be better than suffering with an infection or a claw that has curved over into the paw.