When I opened my email, I was pleasantly surprised to find a slew of reader tips on how to cut a cat's nails. I am impressed with so many soft-spoken cat parents who have mastered the art of distraction to get their felines to pay attention only to them, and not the approaching nail clippers. In my house, I have to hide the nail clippers behind my back because my cat has learned what the shape of my hand looks like when hiding clippers.
Here are a few ways cat parents say they sweet talk, distract and otherwise trick their cats into a nail trim.
* I wait until my cat is sleeping. I then gently pick up his nearest paw and clip those nails. I am telling him he is a good cat while doing it. I then get his other paw done. After I am done and have loved and praised him, I give him a treat. — Becky Hixson, via email
* I have always had the best results when trimming my cats' nails by taking them outside. Since they are indoor cats, they are not outside often. I bring one cat at one at time, sit them on my lap and trim their nails. They are so interested in what's happening around them, they don't even realize I'm cutting their nails. I can do all three cats in 15 minutes with no trauma to them or scratches and frustration to me. — Laura, Aurora, Illinois
* I have clipped my cats' nails while they are sleeping, drowsy or napping. Even if they wake up, I can talk to them in a calm voice and get a few nails done each time. — Carol, Ellington, Connecticut
* Take your cat to a cat vet. The cat is in a situation where they are intimidated and will behave much better. We did this for years and it was worth every penny. It doesn't cost that much, and they are skilled and can cut nails quickly. If you nip one toe too short, the cat will never forget. — Kitty, Mendota Heights, Minnesota
*I bought a "cat in a bag" or similar product where you can extract one foot at a time. It works for me. — Jae, Terrebonne, Oregon
* Here is a trick that almost always works if you have trouble cutting your cat's nails. Bundle them in a large bath towel with just their paws sticking out. It calms them right down and you can cut their nails easily. They must be bundled tightly though, or they will wiggle out. But it works like magic! — Carol, Coon Rapids, Minnesota
Q We have a 16 1/2-year-old rescue Jack Russell. He is the love of our lives. He recently went deaf and now is almost blind as well. He recently underwent surgery to have 13 teeth pulled. He's a real trooper. Even though he has all these old age issues, he remains spry when he's up.
He has, however, begun to howl and bark when we're not home. Unfortunately, I have an 85-year-old mother who lives downstairs and is having a real hard time with this. She's never been a pet person. We don't go out often and try to get our kid to watch him, but if I am not in the house, he whines horribly and cries for hours. It's so painful to watch, but I can't be here 24 hours a day every day. Is there anything we can do? He's been to the vet and they say his blood work is better than a human's!
— Lauren, Wantagh
A Any change in behavior can often be tracked back to health issues, so I am glad you ruled that out first.
Sometimes, as dogs and cats age, they get a little clingier. If your dog is only howling when you are gone, this can be a form of separation anxiety. Instead of destroying your house though, he is destroying your mom's peace of mind.
Treat this like anxiety. Get him an Anxiety Wrap or ThunderShirt to wear when you are not home. Give him some over-the-counter calming chews, put a few drops of Rescue Remedy in his water, or give him melatonin (1 mg two to three times a day).
If these natural methods of reducing anxiety don't calm your dog, talk to your vet about a mild anti-anxiety medication. I think if you treat him for anxiety, you will get results.