Science Can Make Trimming Claws Less Stressful – DNyuz

Cat Owners Rejoice: Science Can Make Trimming Claws Less Stressful

Scientists may have come up with a risk-free way to trim a cat’s claws, both at home and in a shelter.

Trimming a cat’s nails is important for not just their comfort and health, but for protection of furniture in the house.

However, cats tend not to take too kindly to the practice. The temperament of the cat will determine whether they hiss, struggle or cry out when you try to trim their nail.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, wanted to find a way to improve the experience for cats and their owners. Especially for cats who are in a shelter, toenail trimming can often increase anxiety.

Ph.D. student Jennifer Link, who is a researcher at the UC Davis Animal Welfare Epi Lab, has been developing a protocol for cat owners on how to clip their pet’s nails.

“We did not test this protocol for use in the home by cat owners but do think it could be implemented in the home. However, we would have to test this experimentally to see the effectiveness,” Link told Newsweek.

Link devised a protocol in which she first touched the legs of the cat, then her paws. She then advises giving the paws a gentle squeeze. Owners should see if their cat is resistant. The owner can trim a toenail if the cat doesn’t resist. Link tested this protocol by testing all the steps on several cats. The handling stopped if a cat refused to accept a step.

“One benefit of implementing this protocol in the cat’s home is there’s no time constraint. With the shelter cats, I needed to use a relatively brief procedure that I could get through in just a few days, since cats were up for adoption and weren’t available very long. Link added that cats at home were less stressed than cats living in shelters and had developed trust and a relationship with their owners. “We predict this would make it easier to implement in the home. However, most cat owners aren’t trained on behavior modification techniques, reading cat behavior, or how to handle their cat in a low stress way, so these components would need to be added.”

Link started this research in mid-July, and visited 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 trims tend to be challenging for cat caregivers because cats tend to be sensitive and reactive to having their paws touched, and many owners may not know how to handle their cat in a low-stress and safe way during nail trims,” Link said. “This can lead to the use of heavy restraint which can cause negative experiences for cats and their owners, lead to injuries, or cause the owner to neglect nail trims altogether which is a health and welfare concern.”

Link said owners can alternatively bring their cat to their veterinarian instead of doing it themselves, however this “may cause increased stress related to getting cats in carriers, travel to the clinic, and exposure to a clinic environment.”

“The aim of this research is to go at the cat’s pace and use stepwise, gradual exposure to various components of a nail trim, working up to a successful nail trim and avoiding stress related to excessive handling and the potential for injuries,” Link said.

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Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

The post Cat Owners Rejoice: Science Can Make Trimming Claws Less Stressful appeared first on Newsweek.

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