While it’s best to start playing with a few day old kitten’s feet for early neurological stimulation, your older cat can learn to accept feet-touching and nail trims too! Depending on how tolerant your cat is, you may want to spend more or less time on certain steps. Work on the stressful step until you have a couple positive responses, then end on a good note. Don’t expect kitty to go from running from clippers to letting you give him a luxurious pedicure in one day. Don’t push it!
Clippers *make sure they aren’t dull!*
Styptic Powder (not gel!)
Location & Position
Find a quiet place without other animals or humans that might cause stress. You want nail trims to be a relaxing, bonding time with kitty. How is kitty most comfortable? Some cats are best on a raised surface (but make sure they can’t knock anything off!), while others prefer laying down on their back on their favorite human’s lap. Are you relaxed? If not, take a breather. As much as kitty pretends to be aloof, he’s very aware and affected by your emotions. The first step to having your cat relax is to show that you’re relaxed too.
Touch the feet
When kitty is relaxed, start touching the feet. If you’re concerned about kitty becoming nibbly, you can use a long Q-tip to start. For this task, you will use negative reinforcement. Keep a gentle touch (or hold) on the paw until he stops moving the paw, then immediately remove the pressure. When the kitty is able to have the paw touched without moving it, slowly increase the time that the paw is touched. Treats can be given while the paw is being touched. Then, start picking up the paw and increase the time in the same way, eventually graduating to gently pushing on the toe-pad to expose the nail.
Clip the nails!
Now that your cat is relaxed and accepts his feet being touched, it’s time to trim those nails! As with the rest of the steps, start in small amounts and increase as kitty becomes more comfortable. Be careful to not cut the quick, as it will be painful for kitty and likely cause bleeding! As cats have clear nails, it should be easy to see where the blood supply is and cut shortly before that. Be careful with cats that have thick nails, as the quick can be harder to see. If you do happen to cut into the quick, don’t panic! If you have a bleeding nail, just wipe the excess blood with a tissue and pack the styptic powder in the hole.