I took the #320 bus to Secaucus last Friday. Why? Because of Intergroom, a trade show and educational event for pet groomers. I ogled grooming implements, especially the luxurious made-in-Japan gold Utsumi combs which are so beautiful.
If you bathe your cat, you may have noticed that drying can take a long time. Even a short-haired cat can stay damp for longer than you’d expect.
Groomer’s tip: Dry your cat with a towel using every bit of the towel, brush the fur, dry again with another towel, and repeat until the fur is no longer wet. If your cat lets you blow dry, then blow dry with the setting on low. If the cat is still calm, you can turn up the setting so the air flow is more powerful. If your dryer gets hot, keep the dryer at least 8 inches from the fur and move the dryer around. When in doubt, put your hand under the dryer to see how it feels. Cats have a higher body temp than we do, and tend to love heat, so your cat might love that hot dryer. Still, you don’t want to overdo it, because heat can do damage. From experience I’ll tell you that cats are going to luxuriate in that heat, the hotter the better, but I don’t feel comfortable putting a heated dryer too close to them even if they seem to be craving it.
What if your cat is still damp? Then it’s up to you to decide if that’s alright. My feeling is that if a cat is still damp, but they are terrified of the dryer, let them go. Don’t force the full drying. It’s not worth it.
With some types of fur, you do need to fully dry the cat. Some Persians, for example, will mat up right away unless they are totally dry. Mats can be uncomfortable. So you wind up deciding whether you want a matted cat or a cat who is really upset about being dried. There are ways to deal with this, like putting your cat in a room to let them mostly dry, then just blow drying them for the last bit of wetness in their fur.
A lot of owners don’t feel comfortable picking up their cats, so if you’re one of them, you have plenty of company. It’s not that the cats are mean. It’s that the cats wiggle away while the owner is trying to get them. Sometimes the owner gets scratched because the cat is so wiggly. There’s no hope you can trim your cat’s claws if you can’t pick them up. Picking a cat up is step #1.
Rabbits are similar to cats in that 1. their rear legs are powerful. Rabbits and cats both use them to kick. 2. they have claws that can scratch. 3. they can get wiggly when you’re trying to pick them up.
I like MediRabbit.com’s website because they provide clear, attractive drawings demonstrating the way to handle rabbits. You can use the same or similar methods to handle cats!
Their body temp is a few degrees higher than ours. I doubt this is the whole reason, because dogs also have a higher body temp than we do. Dogs don’t sleep with their bodies up against hot radiators for hours on end. One of my cats used to sleep on top of a very hot steam radiator in an old house. For her that radiator was like a hit of kitty Nyquil.
I ordered a heated cat bed for my 15 year old, Emma.
I was just reading some research from the 1960’s on cat sensitivity to heat. While reading, I realized I’d forgotten that sensitivity will be different depending on body location. Face more sensitive than back, most likely. One study, a behavioral one, found that paws do have sensitivity to temperature. They could tell the difference between stimuli with as little as 1 degree celsius (1.8 degree fahrenheit).
What’s really cute is that they received pieces of fish as a reward!
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:
** 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.:)
I enjoy the challenge of claw trims. Keeping the cat still can be a game of skill and imagination! It’s hard to be more clever than a cat when it comes to keeping them from getting away during a claw trimming session.
Some gentle restraint techniques I’ve used:
No restraint. Just put the cat on a counter and trim the claws. Yay!
Hold the cat in my lap with their belly facing up, just like you’d hold a baby.
Wrap kitty up like a burrito in a big towel, pulling out the paw that I need.
Put cat on the counter, slide cat’s body up against mine so she is snug, and trim claws.
Any of the above, plus a snap-on E collar.
Sit on the floor on my knees, with kitty between my knees. Face a wall so kitty can’t run off.
Lay kitty on side with my forearm resting gently but firmly on their shoulders. Trim the claws I can reach. Turn kitty onto other side and repeat.
Cats are flexible. As long as you don’t put them in uncomfortable positions, you can try different ways of holding them until you find the one that works. Remember that trimming claws only takes a minute or so, so even if kitty isn’t thrilled, they are only one minute away from treats, praise and play time. Not a bad deal!
I gave a sweet kitty a bath today. She’s easygoing, and doesn’t mind her baths in the kitchen sink. Her human mom made sure the water was nice and warm. It felt hot to me, but you know what? That’s what kitties like! Maybe that’s because their body temperature is a little bit higher than ours. You know how cats love to lay up against the radiator? I’d be jumping around like I’d stubbed my toe if I spent 15 minutes pressed up against a radiator, but cats can spend all night squished up against the radiator.
When her human mom made the water super warm, the kitty melted. I was massaging her shoulders to get the shampoo out. Kitty experienced a truly blissful Spa Day.
“How did you do that? I can’t hold on to her for more than a minute before she starts to wiggle.”
Mallow, a young white and calico cat, sat on the floor thoughtfully licking her front paw. She looked about as cute as a cat can look, and that’s pretty cute.
“It’s not hard,” I said. “She’s sweet,” I added.
“I couldn’t do it,” the owner replied.
“Sure you could,” I said, but even as I said it, I realized that perhaps he could not do it.
Occasionally I forget that I have been working with pets for over ten years. I have worked in kennels, veterinary clinics, salons, zoos, shelters and private homes. Practice anything long enough and you become better at it than people who do not practice. I have practiced holding on to furry little creatures for so long that I have become better at it than other people. That’s why professions exist, so that people who practice a task more than other people can offer their services.