What happens if you bravely try to trim your cat’s claws and (oh no!) the claw starts to bleed? You’ve cut a little too deeply into the claw. Instead of trimming the clear, bloodless tip, you’ve cut into the part of the claw that has a blood supply.
My guess is that if something can bleed, it can hurt. What with cats being so stoic about pain — and so dramatic about everything else! — I don’t know for sure if and how much that bleeding claw hurts.
UPDATE: I looked at the blog for Dr. Arnold Plotnick, a local veterinarian specializing in cats. He writes:
“The problem is that each nail has a blood vessel inside. Along side the blood vessel runs a nerve. The trick is to trim to just beyond the blood vessel and nerve because if you nick them the cat will hiss, may bite, and will definitely bleed. NOTE: Everyone hits this vein occasionally, even experienced veterinarians. So having a blood-stopping powder on hand is important.”
** My opinion (me, Linda, not Dr. Plotnick) is that it’s easier and just as compassionate to simply wait for the blood to clot. It will clot in a few seconds. I dab it with a tiny piece of paper towel. I don’t use styptic powder because I heard that it can sting a bit, and anyway, I haven’t found it to be necessary, so why do extra things to a cat? Also, I’ve found from experience that many cats will not hiss or have any reaction at all if you nick them. Not that I nick cats every day, but the few times I have, I’ve only realized what I’ve done when I check the claws after finishing. There will be a little drop of blood, sometimes not even a drop, just a hint of redness at the tip of the claw. Even if it’s just a tiny bit, I still wait for it to clot.
I do know that when I’ve cut too deeply on my own nails, it hurts like a house on fire. In fact, one of the ways evil people torture other people is by sticking pins in the pink part of the nail.
What if you do make a mistake? I’ve done it. Even with the best of intentions, if the lighting isn’t great, the cat jerks their paw, or it’s just an “off” day, mistakes can happen. Anyone who says they never make mistakes might be in early-stage Alzheimers. Either that or they’re lying.
The good news is that claw blood clots up fast. If you want, and if you can manage it, you can put a little bit of tissue paper against the bleeding claw until it clots. It’s not a big deal, apart from the sadness we all feel when we do something that might hurt our beloved cats. Cats seem to get over it quickly.
Don’t let fear of nicking the claw stop you from trimming the claw. Over time, you’ll get better. If you really can’t do it, or don’t want to do it, call me. I’ll be happy to visit.
I’m not a fanatic about frequent claw trims. As long as your cat’s claw isn’t getting snagged on you or on furniture, you’re probably fine. If you’ve got an old, fat or sick cat, you might need more frequent claw trims because the claw could grow into the pad. If that happens, there’s now a hole in the paw pad because the claw is poking into it. Paw pads do have nerves, so my guess is that hurts at least a little. Paw pads don’t need ventilation!
Anyway, good luck. You can do it. If you can’t, that’s what I’m here for.:)