Some 40% of cat population in the United States is infected by a flea-borne bacteria, Bartonella henselae. The bacteria can be found under the claws of cats or in the blood of young kittens. The bacteria can be transmitted to human through skin-breaking scratches or bites, and also through their saliva. In most cases, the bacteria only caused mild flu-like infection with symptoms of high fever, lethargy, and swollen lymph node near the injury points.. However, if left untreated for immune-compromised individuals or young children, the disease can bring forward devastating long term illness or even death.
If you have young children, elderlies, or individuals with severely compromised immune system living in the house, it is advisable to keep your house cat ‘s(or dog’s) claws short to avoid unnecessary scratches. One of the easiest ways to keep your cat’s claws short is to let the cat manages it naturally, through scratching on a few strategically placed good quality cat scratching poles or boards in the house. If the cat is allowed to roam freely outdoor, scratching on tree trunk works just as well. A factory-made good scratching pole is usually made of sisal rope material or similar hardy rough material, carpet-surfaced scratching pole does not provide necessary friction to function well.
For elderly or less active cats, manual claw trimming is highly recommended, not only for scratch prevention but also for ease of mobility and comfort of the cats. Cat owners can opt to send their cats for professional grooming and claw trimming, or if wish so, an owner can trim the cat’s claws as well.
If you choose to trim your cat’s claws at home, it is best to get the cat familiar with paw touching since young. In a quiet, cozy corner, sit down comfortably with your kitten(or adult cat) on your lap, lift up one of the paws, massage it in a soothing manner and take turn to press each pad gently to extend the claws. Release immediately after each press. If your cat resists in any way, do not persist. Try again the day after. Repeat the process until the cat is used to each paw and each pad being touch. Use soothing voice and talk to your cat throughout the session. Some cats find it more comforting to have soft blankets covering their heads or bodily wrapped- up. Experience with different positions to find a situation that is best suitable for your cat and you. After each pad/claw touching session, give your cat its favorite treat so that it can associate the session with pleasure. It is best to keep the most favorite treat for claw clipping session.
When your cat is used to its paw being handled regularly, you can proceed with claw trimming. Pet clippers come in various forms, but scissor-type trimmer usually works well with cat claws. Make sure the trimmer is sharp as dull blades put unnecessary force on sensitive cat claws and caused more splitting of nails. Do not expect to trim all the claws in one sitting unless your cat is especially docile and cooperative. Clip the claw somewhere between the tip of claw and the pinkish section, called the “quick”. Do not clip close to the quick as it contains sensitive nerves and blood vessels. If you accidentally clipped the quick, you can stop blood flow by applying styptic material either in powder or stick form. It is a good idea to have the styptic material next to you when clipping cat’s claws. Offer the cat favorite treat as frequently as needed throughout the session.
Do not try to trim the cat’s claw if either the cat or you are not in a calm mood. Remember to use soothing voice throughout and praise your cat often. Do not yell at the cat or forcefully restrain the cat if it is not willing. It may take days to completely trimming all the claws, just be patient.