Q: What is the proper way to trim my cat's nails? I don't want to have her de-clawed, yet she frequently scratches me or my furniture. I have heard that keeping her nails clipped short will help reduce this problem, but I want to make sure I am doing this the right way. I tried one time and caused her to bleed.
Patricia Siegel, Seal Beach
A: To help keep your kitty from damaging you and the furniture, frequent nail trims will reduce your cat's need to scratch. You should take her to your veterinarian or groomer and have him show you the correct method. They should also show you the proper way to hold a nail clipper. You need to extend each nail by gently pushing on the pad. This way you should be able to see the quick of the nail which has the blood vessel and nerve--which you don't want to cut. You can cut or trim off the tip of the nail below the quick without the risk of hurting your cat. Hold your cat on your lap or on a secure surface to keep her supported. If you should cut the nail too close and cause it to bleed, you can apply commercially available agents such as Kwik-stop, to the tip of the nail to stop the bleeding. Start off by just tipping the nails until you feel comfortable about trimming them.
Q: I have a year-old, beautiful, longhaired cat who lately has been retching at various intervals. She was able to eject a fur ball at one time. Is there some method, treatment or medication that can be used to make the expulsion of fur balls more bearable for her?
Mrs. Chloe B. Culver, Fullerton
A: Fur balls are common to all cats but seem to be more prevalent in longhaired cats that groom themselves more frequently. As a cat licks herself, she will swallow a portion of the hair that is stuck to her tongue. This hair starts to collect in the stomach and is either vomited or passed on in the feces. In some severe cases, the hair mass collects and can cause an intestinal obstruction which may have to be surgically removed.
The best methods for controlling hair that is swallowed is to groom your cat daily to remove most of the loose hair that she would normally lick off herself. Give her any one of the laxative medications that come in tubes two to three times a week to help her pass any accumulated hair. If your cat stops eating and appears to be ill, have her seen by your veterinarian.
Got a question about your pet? Write to: Dr. Glenn Ericson, Ask The Vet, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.