Monday, June 1, 2009 4:27 PM

Clip and Snip Like a Pro!

Once again, as with most things involving cats, slow and steady will get the job done. Start by getting your cat used to having her paws touched on a regular basis. Begin this training when the cat is very relaxed, but aware; don’t try touching a sleeping cat’s paws! For instance, say you and Poopsie are just hanging out on the couch, having a nice love-in while watching a movie. Once in a while, handle a paw or two, briefly. Ramp up this training until you can touch her paws without her flinching. This may take several weeks, but it is well worth taking the time to get your cat accustomed to this new type of handling.

The next step is to actually cut a nail or two. Use the good-quality human toenail clippers mentioned in a previous post. You may want to clip as she lay on the couch, nice and relaxed; I find that this doesn’t give me enough control over the cat’s movement, though. You don’t want her to pull away and get hurt (no matter how slightly) because she will associate this activity with discomfort and you’ll really be up a creek. Just try getting close to her with those clippers after that! What I do is I gently and lovingly pick the cat up and, as I kneel on the floor and sit back on my heels, I tuck His or Her Highness in between my knees so that the cat’s haunches are “trapped” by my knees. That way, I can concentrate on getting those front claws trimmed up without worrying that kitty can run off. Even if they complain a little, you still have control over the situation. Speak softly and give some smooches to keep kitty calm; then snip a nail or two or even three—as many as you can before she starts to really get annoyed. You want to let her go before that happens, so that she’ll submit a bit more readily next time, since it really wasn’t that bad. Keep this up until you can do both front paws at once. As she gets acclimated to this and you get better at it, the whole process will speed up considerably, you’ll see. After each session, give her a little treat for being such a good kitty and you’ll see improvement fast. If you start getting the treat ready before you even start clipping (so that she can hear it), she will associate only good things with this procedure and should become more cooperative each time. We usually snip claws right before their dinner, when they’re all hanging around the kitchen anyway. Right afterwards, they’re fed and all is right with the world!

This “behind the knees” technique works with front claws only, as you might have guessed. For the back ones, I employ my assistant, J., to hold them for me. If you don’t have an assistant, you can get along very well just trimming the front claws, since they are the ones that can cause the most trouble, every 10—14 days. Not only will your furnishings fare better, but just think of all the additional bonding that’s taking place between yourself and your darling cats now that you have this process down to a science. Makes me misty-eyed just thinking about it!

What The...?: The May issue of the AARP Bulletin has a short article regarding another way the medical profession is socking it to us: Some (about 1,000) doctors are having patients sign a form in which they promise not to speak "ill" (as it were) about their doctor or his/her staff. Apparently, many physicians don't want to hear criticism, constructive or not. They're not happy with people airing their views about health care at sites like and, so don't click on these links, please! (Ha). I can't wait to read what these guys come up with next to brighten our days. Check out
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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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