The Secret to Successful Cat Grooming

The secret is that . . .

Cat grooming is not for the cat.

Cat grooming is for the owner.

Things I see after I finish grooming a cat . . .

Owners breathing in the clean smell of their cat’s fur.

Owners ruffling the soft fur of their beloved cat.

Owners able to let their cat snuggle with them, without fear of being scratched by overly long claws.

It’s the simple things in life that give the most pleasure.

Photo on 3-3-13 at 10.54 AM #3

(Note.  Grooming isn’t just for the owner.  Many cats do need help staying clean. They certainly can’t trim their own claws.)

Can’t pick up your cat? Think like a rabbit.

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!

Cat’s claw bleeding?

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.:)

FelineScratch01
Appalachian scratching post

Trouble holding cat for claw trim?

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!

Claw trimmer and cat's claw
Cat on my lap.

What is the best use of time? Claw trims & time.

Let me help you decide whether or not to hire a house call cat groomer for claw trims.

Everything is a trade-off.

When people choose to buy prepared pre-packaged meals instead of shopping, cooking and cleaning up, they are making an instinctual decision about the best use of their time.

What is the best use of your time?

Not including employee benefits such as insurance, the value of one hour of your time is:

$40,000/year = $19.23/hour

$60,000/year = $28.85/hour

$80,000/year = $38.46/hour

$100,000/year = $48.08/hour

Ah, but it’s not that easy. What is the value of your time AWAY from work? What is the best use of those precious hours when you are not in an office or tied to your laptop answering emails from the Boss?  I’d guess the value of non-work hours is double the value of work hours because of scarcity. When a desired item — such as time to relax — is scarce, the value of that item rises.

That means one hour of relaxation time is worth almost $60.00, for those earning $60,000 a year.  You are “spending” $60 when you use one hour for a non-relaxing activity during your limited relaxation hours.

What do you want to do with that hour of relaxation time? Do you want to put your cat in a carrier and walk to the salon or clinic for a claw trim, or do you want to hire a cat groomer to trim the claws? My claw trim visits generally take 15 minutes.

Interesting, yes?

cat fist bump

 

More & More Owners Schedule Claw Trims

BELLEYAWNS
Belle says schedule a claw trim today!

This is good news for cats!  For a cat who tolerates claw trims, think how much better their life is when momma or poppa schedules claw trims every 4 to 8 weeks!

No more getting claws stuck in the scratching post or worse, the sofa. No more scabs on the ear from too-long claws tearing at sensitive skin.  More cuddles with their human, instead of being pushed away with an “ouch!”

 

3 Common Myths about Cat Grooming

Before I became a cat groomer, I believed these myths.  Even though I’d worked as a veterinary nurse, shelter manager, emergency rescue tech, kennel staff and more, I believed that . . .

Myth #1

All cats hate baths.

Nope. Luckily for me, since my life’s work is GIVING BATHS TO CATS, most cats are fine with baths. It’s the blow-drying that scares the bejeezus out of them.

Myth #2

Cat groom themselves.

Nope.  After shaving down more than a few matted long-haired, and even matted short-haired cats, I can honestly say that a big bunch of cats never got the memo that they’re supposed to be able to groom themselves.

Myth #3

You don’t need to trim cat claws. They wear them down using scratching posts.

Nope. Using a scratching post sharpens the claws. Sharpening is the opposite of trimming!

Should you have a groomer trim your cat’s claws ?

Claw trimmer and cat's claw
This is the claw trimmer I use. The cat in this photo is on my lap. She is a relaxed cat.

Here are some things to think about.

Are you a calm, patient person?

Does your body tense up when you hold your cat?

Are you a quiet person, or do you use a loud voice at home?

Are you willing to try different ways of holding your cat?

Are you willing to trim the claws in a piecemeal fashion, a few claws every now and then?

Does your cat lay still for claw trims?

Does your cat wiggle just a bit or is your cat a major wiggler?

Does your cat hiss, scratch and even bite during claw trim attempts?

Do you have a condition that makes being scratched more of a concern, such as a blood condition or susceptibility to infection?