Katz Tales: When it's time to trim those claws

(From left) Tic Tac, Inkie and Target have a new lifestyle, and the boys required a pedicure. Photo: Ellen Whyte

When I cuddled Inkie, he purred, pawed, and got a claw trapped in my pullover. Twenty minutes later, we had to unhook Target.

We've always cuddled, and there's been the odd dropped claw but with cotton, it's never been a problem. However, Britain is cold so we swathe ourselves in pullovers and cardigans. As cats can retract their claws at will, I assumed they needed to adjust to our woollies.

But then Target started a game of chase with Tic Tac. They thundered into the living room like a herd of elephants, ran over the sofa, over me – and then ground to a halt as Target got stuck.

After I unhooked him, he stomped grumpily over the wooden floor – and that's when I heard the clicking sound. The constant entanglement suddenly made sense. The cats had overgrown claws.

I should have planned for this but in all the hoo-hah of moving, that detail had passed me by.

In Malaysia, Target wore down his claws in the garden. Right up until the last few weeks, in the days before a monkey tried to attack Inkie, the other two played on the roof where the rough tiles filed their nails.

As Britain is too cold for tropical cats to go out, their claws had grown too long. The solution was plain: A pedicure session was needed.

But I was kicking myself because claw clipping is not straightforward. Nails are complex structures that include a "quick" a blood vessel and bundle of nerves. These run through the nail. If you don’t clip a claw correctly, there’s pain, blood and possibly infection.

When I was a kid, I clipped my guinea-pig's claws. While it hadn't been difficult, a small guinea-pig is quite different to a wriggling cat. Also, guinea-pig claws are always visible whereas cat claws are sheathed.

After our relocation, I was not up for traumatising the furries with a vet visit. Thankfully, Google yielded vet-certified advice. The local pet shop stocked fancy pink shears at £7 (RM40) – a fortune! But worth it as they are made specially for curved kitty claws.

Given that cats are expert negotiators and offering bribes was bound to work in my favour, I also stocked up on crunch treats.

Armed with the right tools, I planned my campaign. Although Target was in dire need, my old boy can be a drama cat. I went with the easiest candidate first: Tic Tac.

Our pearly princess is slight but thanks to constant workouts on her climbing pole, she's all muscle. I scooped her up, said a quick prayer to Bastet, and pressed Tic Tac's front paw lightly. Her claws slid out smoothly. While I examined them, Tic Tac purred.

Racing up and down the hemp rope plus some judicious nibbling had given her sharp yet elegantly trimmed nails – a princess cat French mani-pedi. There was no work for me to do.

After complimenting her, I turned to the boys. Inkie had vanished but Target was snoozing on the heated blanket on the sofa. Upside-down, paws in the air, the sticky-out claws were evident. We should have seen it before, but I guess we were blind to them because the growth had been so gradual.

Inspecting him carefully, two outer claws on both front paws stuck out most.

Prepared for battle, I took hold of one paw. A little pressure revealed the entire claw, including the easily visible quick. Keeping to the very tip only, a matter of millimetres, I snipped.

No blood. No squeals. Not even a twitch.

Sucking in a breath, I pushed and clipped the claw next to it. The shears were magnificent; miniature guillotines in action. At the sound of nail slicing off neatly, Target opened an eye. But I was on a roll, swiftly working the other paw.

Snip. Snip. A piece of cake.

Inspired, I examined his back paws. His middle toes were super long. No pushing required, it took seconds.

But at this point, Target grumbled. Determined to keep him happy, I rushed through it and then offered kisses and a handful of crunchy treats.

Target is not daft. He knew I’d taken advantage of him. He sniffed his paws, examining his toes carefully. I petted, complimented the new look, and was generous with the treats.

Cats are very practical. Chewing loudly, Target decided he was in favour of pedicures.

Sensing treats were in play, Tic Tac and Inkie pitched up. The second Inkie swallowed his treat, I scooped him up.

Inkie is a tuxy with black whiskers but thankfully, his claws are translucent with a clearly defined quick. Unlike the other two, our big boy flexed and complained. He wriggled and squirmed, managing to turn 180°.

Holding on grimly, tucking him firmly under my arm, I worked his back paws, tipping the longest claws that stuck out like Claymores (a medieval sword).

At the sound of the snip, Inkie fought like a demon. At almost 6kg and muscled like a sumo wrestler, hanging on to him and the shears proved impossible. He slid out of my grasp, landing on the floor with a very sulky bump.

Cats have a wide vocabulary and Inkie didn’t hold back. He vented his outrage in loud tones, declined my apologies, and stomped off.

While more treats inspired forgiveness, Inkie is smart and he did not forget. Geared up for battle, I put the shears by the sofa, intending to ambush him.

Inkie proved a cunning challenger rival adversary. Every time I reached for them, he was off, jumping out of reach and making for the kitchen where he could sit on top of the high cupboards or running upstairs and diving under the bed. And each time, the naughty boy meowed defiance, jeering at me.

But yesterday the karma gods struck. Inkie scratched the rug right in front of me – and got his claws tangled in the wool. Before he got it together, I grabbed him and did the evil deed.

Although it was my victorious snip, I can’t quite shake a feeling of unease. Claws grow quickly and cats are fast learners.

My triumph is coloured by the knowledge that Inkie is already plotting his next tactical manoeuvre. I may not be as lucky next time.

Adopt Me

Photo: SPCA Penang/Lily LengPhoto: SPCA Penang/Lily Leng

Lenny is eight months old, neutered, healthy and fully vaccinated. This super friendly boy loves to go out for walks, trotting alongside you. He is very playful and loves attention.

Interested adopters, please contact SPCA Penang, Jalan Jeti Jelutong, 11600 Jelutong, Penang. Phone: 04-281 6559. Website: https://spca-penang.net

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Cats , cat claws , cat behaviour


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