What is a safe way to restrain a cat before trimming her claws?

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The easiest way for a stress-free nail trim is to start when you first bring your kitten home. Handle her paws regularly and gently, and get her accustomed to being gently restrained. Expose one claw at a time by lightly pressing the top of the toe and the toe pad. Very social, relaxed cats may be willing to lie down on their backs or sides while you handle their feet.

Use sharp nail trimmers and take off only the sharp, curved tip of the nail, staying clear of the pink “quick” to avoid causing pain. Choose a time when your cat is sleepy and relaxed, and avoid trying to trim the claws of a playful, wound up, or fearful kitty. If you can’t trim all of the claws in one sitting, you can do one paw, take a break, and even wait until the next day to do the next paw.

While some cats will be cooperative, most cats will need to be held firmly but gently while you trim their nails. If you have help, it is much easier for one person to hold the cat while the other person does the trimming. Sit your cat on a counter or table where you can hold her more easily. Tuck her under your arm, a bit like a football, and place your hand under her chest, holding her close to you. Use your free hand to hold her head or scratch her and talk to her while your partner trims the nails.

If you are trimming by yourself, hold the cat on your lap or on a table tucked under your left arm (if you are right-handed). Use your left hand to gently protrude the nail, and your right hand to trim. Really squirmy cats may need to be wrapped in a towel or blanket.   One paw at a time can be uncovered to trim. If your cat becomes stressed, frightened or aggressive, discontinue trimming her nails.

If you find that your cat simply will not allow you to trim her nails, consult your vet about safe alternatives.

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