Why Do I Need to Trim My Cat's Claws?

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Q. Does clipping my cat’s nail tips keep him from scratching the furniture? If not, what’s the point?

A. The point is to get rid of those sharp points. There are actually a handful of reasons why it’s a good idea to clip your cat's nails, and reducing your cat’s ability to shred your furniture is just one of them. Really, though, I wouldn’t rate that at number one, especially since redirecting your cat’s natural desire to scratch isn’t that hard. With so many incredible choices in cat trees, and scratching pads, posts, trays and more, your furniture is unlikely to be your cat’s first choice.

So why nip the tips? It makes life more comfortable for both you and your cat. If you have one of those cats who needs to knead you — and who pokes those sharp tips into your skin — you know what I’m talking about. Taking off the very end of those claws will make this loving gesture something you can enjoy, rather than dread. For your cat, clipping his tips can prevent painful broken claws that can result when a sharp tip gets caught in the carpet. And yes, having those claws a little less lethal will reduce the damage should your fashion-conscious cat decide to give the corner of your sofa a hip new “distressed” look.

Get Your Cat Comfortable With the Clipper

Clipping your cat’s nail tips doesn’t have to be a struggle. If you start when your cat’s a kitten, it will probably never be a big deal. (And clipping is a far better strategy than declawing.) But even if you start today, with an adult cat, you’ll probably both get through it just fine. You can use a small clipper made for feline nails, or you can use a human nail-clipper — I’ve used both, and both work equally well. Since nail clippers work best when they are sharp, be sure to change the blades or replace the entire clipper regularly, depending on the model. You should also have styptic powder on hand, just in case you nick the quick, which shows as a pink center in light nails.

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