Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My cat will not let me trim her claws. She runs away when she senses that I am going to hold her. I have tried to let her smell the clippers but as soon as I try to use them she is gone. The only success we have had is to trick her into the bathroom, close the door and wrap her in a towel. None of us wants to do that again. She is generally skittish and fearful. It can’t be comfortable for her to keep getting her claws caught on things. Please help.
Siouxsie: Well, Sharon, it sounds like you’ve got two issues here. The first is that your cat is skittish and fearful, and the second — which is influenced by the first — is that she won’t let you trim her claws.
Thomas: In order to get to the point where you can trim her nails, you’re going to need to deal with the fear.
Bella: I’m not scared of anything!
Siouxsie: I’d be happy to change that for you!
Thomas: Anyway … what I’m saying is that the fear needs to be addressed first, and there are some ways you can do that. First of all, you can try using Feliway pheromone diffuser plug-ins. Mama did that for Kissy when she first came to our house because she was really scared and skittish, too.
Siouxsie: I actually think it helped her some, too. Of course, as soon as she met Thomas, she got scared again.
Thomas: I just wanted to be her friend. I was so excited to meet her.
Bella: Aww, Thomas, it’s OK. We’ve got each other now. Snuggle buddies forever! I’d be ever so happy if you’d groom my ears for me. *purrrrrrrrrr*
Thomas: Sure, I’d love to. *purrrrrrrrrrrrr*
Siouxsie: Jeez! Get a room, you two!
Thomas: Another thing you can do to help a fearful cat is to make sure she has plenty of vertical space and ways she can get from place to place in your house without being cornered anywhere. We’d strongly recommend that you visit cat mojo master Jackson Galaxy’s website or check out some episodes of his TV series, My Cat From Hell, to get some inspirations for “catifying” your home. (Past seasons of MCFH are available on Netflix and other streaming video services.)
Bella: And then play with her, lots and lots!
Siouxsie: I know Bella sounds silly — trust me, I have to listen to her going on and on all day, every day — but this time she’s right: Interactive play can be a wonderful tool to help a fearful cat. Being able to catch and kill feathers on a string or a mouse on a wand can do wonders to raise her confidence. It’ll also help her to spread her scent around the house so she’ll feel safer there. For a few tips on how to play with your cat (yes, there really is a right way), check out this article Mama wrote for Catster.
Bella: Thomas, Siouxsie’s being mean to me!
Thomas: Bella, sometimes it’s better to just let those words slip on by. Let me tell you a secret: she loves you a lot, even if she never says it.
Bella: Is it true? Do you love me, Siouxsie?
Siouxsie: *grumble* I suppose, maybe just a little bit.
Bella: Wow! Really? Can we snuggle now?
Siouxsie: Don’t push your luck.
Thomas: Sometimes I feel like I’m the only cat who’s actually working around here. *sigh* Anyhow, Sharon, the play, catification and pheromones should help your baby start feeling more at home. You might also look into products like Spirit Essences flower essences. Mama used Safe Space for Cats with Kissy, and it really did help, but Scaredy Cat sounds like it might be a good choice for your baby.
Bella: We know you want to get those claws trimmed, but until you address your cat’s fearful nature and she starts feeling more confident in your home, you may want to take her to the vet or a groomer to have her nails done because they’ll do the job very quickly. Also, sisal-coated scratching posts and cardboard scratch pads can help kitties maintain their own nails.
Siouxsie: If you want some good professional advice on how to trim your cat’s claws, this video by Dr. Christianne Schelling gets the Paws and Effect Seal of Approval.
Thomas: And Mama’s friend and fellow cat blogger, Catherine Holm, wrote a great post on the ways she helps to make the claw trimming experience less stressful for the cats that share her home.
Bella: Good luck, Sharon, and please let us know how things turn out, both with helping your kitty recover from her fear and with the nail trimming.