Science can make claw trimming less stressful

Science can make claw trimming less stressful

Scientists may have found a risk-free way to trim cats’ claws, both at home and at a shelter.

Trimming your cat’s nails is important not only for their comfort and health, but also to protect your home furnishings.

However, cats don’t tend to take kindly to this practice. Depending on a cat’s temperament, they often tend to hiss or struggle when it’s time to trim their nails.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, wanted to find a way to improve the experience for cats and their owners. Toenail trimming often increases anxiety, especially for cats in a shelter.

The stock photo shows an angry cat. Trimming a cat’s claws can be annoying, but scientists have discovered a way to do it.
castenoid/Getty

Ph.D. student Jennifer Link, a researcher in the Animal Care Epi Lab at UC Davis, is developing a protocol for cat owners on how to clip their pets’ nails.

“We have not tested this protocol for use at home by cat owners but believe it can be implemented at home. However, we will have to test this experimentally to see how effective it is,” Link said. Newsweek.

Link came up with a protocol that involved touching the cat’s legs first, then the paws. Then she advises giving the paws gentle pressure. The owner must then see if the cat is resisting. If they don’t, the owner should go ahead and trim one toenail. Link tested this protocol by testing all steps on several cats. If the cat refuses any step, the handling will be stopped.

“One benefit of implementing this protocol in a cat home is that there are no time constraints. With shelter cats, I needed to use a relatively brief procedure that I could implement in a few days, since the cats were up for adoption and had not been available for a while,” Link said. “Very long. Also, compared to cats in shelters, cats in their home are less stressed and have developed a bond and trust with their owner.” “We anticipate that this would make it easier to implement at home. However, most cat owners are not trained in behavior modification techniques, reading cat behavior, or how to handle their cat in a low-stress manner, so these components will need to be added.”

Link began this research in mid-July, visiting a shelter in Sacramento every weekday for two hours. By the end of September, she had tested her protocol on more than 70 cats.

“Nail trimming tends to be a challenge for cat caregivers because cats tend to be sensitive and reactive when their paws are touched, and many owners may not know how to handle their cat in a safe, low-stress way during nail trimming,” Link said. . “This can lead to the use of severe restraint which can cause negative experiences for cats and their owners, lead to injuries, or cause the owner to neglect to trim their nails completely which is a health and welfare concern.”

Cat owners can alternatively bring their cat to the vet rather than doing it themselves, but this “may cause increased stress related to bringing cats in carriers, traveling to the clinic, and exposure to the clinic environment,” Link said.

“The goal of this research is to go at the cat’s pace and use gradual, step-by-step exposure to the various components of nail trimming, working toward successful nail trimming and avoiding stress associated with excessive handling and the potential for injury,” Link said. .

Do you have advice about a science story that Newsweek Should it cover? Do you have a question about cats? Let us know at science@newsweek.com.