Cats are well-known for several things: their independent, strong streak, their sleek looks, and their soothing purr. This personality characteristic may be a benefit for cat owners who are searching for companionship (yet not keen on walks); but it also can be a source of frustration. As any pet owner may attest, it does not take long for the corners of sofas, ottomans and chairs to become shredded and ragged under the not-so-gentle attentions of a cat. Saving your furniture requires a bit of planning and forethought on the part of a pet owner. Here in this post, Innovet Pet Products covers the topic of trimming cat nails.
Should you Groom your Cat?
Here’s the short answer -- for the majority of cats-- no – a cat owner should not groom their feline or try to give them a bath. A feline’s sandpaper-like tongue will act as a hairbrush, and their steady licking extracts debris, dirt, and dead fur. For specific long-haired cat breeds, the occasional cat nails cut may assist in cutting back on hairballs (more on that later) and bathroom messes, however, generally, felines deal with their own grooming. Even a feline’s furnishing-frustrating claw-sharpening is deliberate grooming: he’s removing exterior sheaths of the nail keratin in order to keep the tips sharp. Like a human may extract an irritating hangnail using some nail clippers, the pulling and digging motion pulls away broken, ragged, or worn-down spaces of a feline’s claws.
Causes and Treatments of Hairballs in Cats
Before going further into how to trim your cat's nails, let’s talk about causes and treatments of hairballs in cats. There are some rites-of-passage that veteran pet owners know better than “the sound” – the increasingly-loud, measured sounds of a feline coughing up a hairball in the middle of a night may wake even the soundest of sleepers. Barely awake, it usually is instantly followed up by a cat owner’s rush into a typically futile effort to spare their carpeting from a moist clump of coughed-up fur. For most people, the question lingers: why do felines indulge in this stomach-turning cat ritual?
It might come as a shock to learn that this annoying behavior is a healthy, normal mechanism for a feline to shed his excessive hair after grooming. As much as he might make loud sounds and drastic back-hunching movements as he is coughing, it is a straightforward affair that helps him feel better. Step one in decreasing these ugly “gifts” and restricting their appearance is knowing why felines develop hairballs.
Cat Hairball Facts: Cats Cannot Help It
While some felines might seem to plot specific mischievous behaviors – like pushing his human being’s possessions off a table edge, for example – hairballs aren’t premeditated. He genuinely cannot help his hairballs any more than an individual may avoid the urge to clear her or his throat while feeling congested. For anyone who ever has cleaned out a hairbrush or peered down at the sink after shaving, it isn’t usual to note quite a bit of stubble or hair left behind. Felines do not have the benefit of grooming tools and must instead rely on their paws and tongues to keep their coat free of debris, shiny, and sleek.
A feline feels a natural instinct to groom herself, whether it is habitually, trying to get debris out of her fur, or after eating to clean up. It is as normal to her as brushing one’s teeth or hair might be to his human counterparts, and hairballs simply are a way of life for her. As a matter of fact, watch her behavior right after coughing up a hairball – she will likely seem fine, and may even act more energetic. She might even take off at a breakneck pace to run around the house – it’s a latent instinctual behavior believed to separate a feline from biological proof of her presence, therefore keeping her safe from predator discovery. Incidentally, that same reasoning explains the periodic speed-racing through the halls instantly after she has gone to the litterbox.
Cat Got Your Tongue?
Felines of all sizes, even lions, groom each other to establish friendship and bonding within their pride, or chosen family. This means that your pet has probably licked your arm or hand during some point when cuddling inside your lap, or greeting you following a long day. Anyone who has interacted with or owned a cat has likely seen how rough her tongue feels, especially if she was insistent about the grooming. That sandpaper-like phenomena will come courtesy of small barbs on her tongue, referred to as papillae, which face backwards in her mouth, towards her throat. In the wild, those hooks assist in removing meat from bones while feeding, and act as a type of built-in comb for brushing fur clean. They are very efficient, yet in housecats, they may be a significant disadvantage, especially in long-haired cat breeds.
That is because these hook-like papillae are faced backwards, and as a hair, thread, or additional particle is taken into the mouth from licking, it is extremely challenging or impossible for the feline to extract it. It’s one of the main reasons that veterinarians suggest keeping thread-like items such as string, Christmas tinsel, yarn, or ribbon away from feline: they do not have the ability to “spit it out” if it becomes trapped in their papillae, and this may lead to ingestion or choking. A feline’s individual hairs only can grow so wide or long, yet a length of nylon string does not have these limitations. It cannot be digested and is going to become dangerously entangled inside a feline’s intestines, which necessitates surgical removal.
Why Will Felines Groom Themselves?
Felines groom for an almost countless list of reasons, like:
- Stress relief and self-soothing
- Dislodging parasites like mites, ticks, fleas, and flea dirt
- Removing debris and dirt that might pull at fur or irritate their skin
- Regulating body temperature by extracting insulating dead fur
- Keeping their coat aerodynamic and sleek for hunting
- Building companionship inside their pride
Even if cat owners take some time to groom their pet using an external tool (like a rubber-noduled pet brush or mitt), they still will naturally groom themselves. It is a habit that is ingrained in their genetics as much as chasing mice and bugs, as well as a method of demonstrating their emotions.
Depending upon a feline’s temperament, owners might’ve witnessed him:
- Lazily groom a paw as she is relaxing on the sofa (“I am feeling good and unthreatened within this environment; therefore, I’m able to take some time to groom”)
- Angrily groom her body where a human has touched her (“I didn’t want you to touch me and I am going to wash your odor off my body to exhibit my contempt”)
Feline folks might also have seen their cat excitedly lick at the couch, the air, their arm, or anything within reach when her back is scratched right above the tail. It’s actually an interesting nerve cluster-behavior connection that some feline behaviorists refer to as the “lick spot.” While it isn’t yet fully understood, it is believed to be a leftover instinctual response from kittenhood. That back spot is an area in which a mama cat would groom and lick as her kittens were feeding to persuade them to eat – therefore, the frantic licking.
Should you Stop your Pet from Grooming?
Usually, grooming is a great sign of general well-being in your pet. So long as a feline’s coat is shiny and sleek, it means she feels well enough to regularly groom herself. As a matter of fact, vets commonly suggest that pet owners bring their furry friends in as soon as possible if their coats start looking uncharacteristically patchy, dull, or overgrown. It is one of the most noticeable symptoms of stress or illness in a cat and catching it early on may mean better treatment success for whatever is ailing them.
The only times cat owners ought to keep a cat from grooming herself are during excessive stress or parasite-associated grooming (like short, bald patches in her fur in which the skin shows through), or if she has something on her fur she cannot safely ingest. Topical flea meds are a highly sought-after treatment among pet owners, who equally are familiar with the odd application site. Commonly, instructions state to apply the medicine between the shoulder blades – that is because it is the one area a feline cannot reach to groom herself. For households that have more than one feline, know that cats must be isolated, at least for a little while, when topical medicine is used: otherwise, they might groom it off of one another and become sick.
Where Do Feline Hairballs Come From?
All of that grooming, along with the papillae’s extraordinary capability of hanging onto individual strands of fur, means a feline will swallow a good amount of her own fur. Think about that fur in terms of a tub drain for a minute: occasionally, strands of hair just slide down the drain and inside the sewer, yet sometimes a clog or mat of hair instead snarls inside the drain.
Due to hair being pure protein and not being able to be dissolved by a feline’s stomach acid, any fur which does not naturally pass through her digestive system becomes a real issue. This hair leads to indigestion and takes up precious real estate in which food nutrients might fit, which might’ve meant a life-or-death food situation to his wild ancestors. And so – up it’ll come, in conjunction with partially-digested food, bile, and stomach acid, and other awful things to step in at 4 a.m. in the morning.
As the descendent of a larger predator which had to eliminate previously-eaten prey for spoil, parasites, and additional health concerns, this vomiting does not phase a feline too much. It is business as usual for her, even if it is an especially nauseating and/or bad start to his owner’s day.
Do Hairballs Mean your Pet Is Sick?
Hairballs are natural and usually nothing to be concerned with. But, for pet parents who see their feline’s hairballs have a pink or red tinge, contain foreign bodies such as ribbon or small toys, or appear excessively foamy, their cat will require a checkup. Also, your cat will require a checkup in the rare instance that she has a hairball impaction. There might be an explanation for the feline’s hairballs, yet it is better to speak with a veterinarian than risk harm through ignoring the problem.
While it isn’t the most thrilling aspect of pet ownership, snapping a camera phone pic or two of a feline’s bothersome hairball may greatly help the veterinarian in diagnosis. Depending upon the local veterinarian’s clinic and the way they engage with patient emails and additional types of digital communication, cat owners may not even have to bring a feline in for an exam.
How To Trim Your Cat’s Nails
Now that we’ve covered hairballs in cats, let’s get back to the topic of cat nail trimming. So, how to trim cat nails, where to cut cat nails, and how often to trim cat nails? Most veterinarians agree, and in some instances state legislatures do, as well: declawing is unnecessary and painful for a cat. Instead of permanently extracting his nails, routine clipping accomplishes the exact same results without trauma and pain. ‘The frequency of trimming will depend upon the individual feline, yet as the nails feel or look really sharp, it’s likely time,’ as explained on I Heart Cats.com.
How To Cut Cat's Nails Without Getting Scratched
So, how to trim cat's nails without getting scratched? Like all potential and unfamiliar uncomfortable things, it is vital that you approach feline nail clipping like a strategic fight – deliberately, slowly, and armed with all things needed for a scratch-free victory.
Here we list some helpful trimming cat nails tips:
- The earlier, the better: If the pet is exposed to nail clipping during kittenhood, he is less likely to be scared by the process as he ages. The owner ought to introduce him to clippers as a stationary item, placing a snack on the handle to assist in enforcing positive associations. Even if a kitty does not require nail clipping yet, beginning those associations young will assist the process later on.
- Select the proper clippers: The majority of animal professionals suggest a simplistic overlapping cutter for trimming a feline’s nails. Nail clippers for humans aren’t the proper tool for the task, as they are made for flat nails, not the round cylinders of cat claws. Using those flat clippers on a cat’s claws will probably cause cat nail splintering or pain.
- Get her accustomed to paw-holding: As a general rule, cat don’t like to have their paws touched. Not just are the paws their means of body support and mobility, they also are their evolutionary food-hunting tools. Avoid that pain by delicately stroking the tops of her paws and massaging the pads while he’s sleepy or amenable to it. The comfier he is with the idea, the simpler the process of clipping will go. A couple of well-placed snacks work well here, as well!
- Get him accustomed to the motion and sound: Even when he is familiar with the physical clippers and idea of his paws being manipulated, the loud “click” of clippers cutting the nail may spook a cat. The AKC suggests mimicking nail clipping when hiding a piece of uncooked spaghetti inside the palm, feeding it into the clippers. From a cat’s viewpoint, his paw is held, clippers are present, and the noise is heard, yet there isn’t any sensation to be concerned with.
- Avoid and identify the quick: The claws of a cat are translucent, and a red, thin strand through the middle holds all of the nerve endings and blood vessels for the claw. The strand is referred to as the quick, and it never should be disturbed or cut. Only the initial one-eighth to one-quarter of a claw tip must be cut; therefore, a would-be nail trimmer ought to err on the side of caution, as well as avoid the nail base.
- Take it very slowly – there isn’t any rush: As the temptation might be to restrain a feline and trim all his nail tips at one time, this has a great potential to be traumatizing to both owner and cat. Even if a complete nail trim must occur over the course of multiple days, it is better to go slowly than to hurry through and accidentally become scratched or trim the quick mid-claw. For pet parents who’ve tried a variety of techniques to no avail (or do not feel confident enough to see the chore through), a trusted professional pet groomer or vet may help with nail trimming.
In Conclusion: Acclimating Your Cat to Nail Grooming
Whether it is a move taken on behalf of furnishing edges or just to ensure the comfort of a cat, cat claw trim does not need to be a huge ordeal. Supplement trimming with alternate nail-sharpening sites, like a scratching pad or post infused with catnip, and a conscientious pet owner isn’t likely to see shredded chair legs or ragged curtains ever again. With the proper tools, a slow approach, and a couple of snack-supported tricks, both owner and cat may appreciate the experience of nail-trimming with dignity intact.
Sources:Nail Clipping and Nail Care for Cats
Clipping a Cat's Claws
Trim Your Cat's Nails
How to Trim Your Cat's Nails
How Often Should You Trim a Cat's Nails?
Trimming your cat's claw