Winston is the most loving, affectionate and cuddlesome cat you could ever wish to meet. He miaous and purrs and chirrups and chats with everyone. I don’t think there is a nasty bone in his body. He is nonchalant and easy-going, almost blasé in his approach to life and loves all the attention lavished on him. There is just one thing he doesn’t really appreciate and that is having his claws clipped.
Because he is an indoor cat his claws don’t wear down very quickly and he clicks across our bare floors like a tap-dancer auditioning for the chorus of a musical. He uses his scratching post and our legs and furniture to free the sheaths but the points of his claws remain as little daggers that catch in clothing and other fabrics, incapacitating him briefly and preventing him from conducting his day in the way he has dictated. So, every now and then, I clip his claws.
With our Burmese cats I could lay them upside down on my lap and take my time over their pedicures. They enjoyed the care and consideration. Maybe it’s something to do with the breed. My father even used to file his little cat’s claws; she had been a breeding queen before my parents adopted her and took a long time to adapt to living in a home but she always welcomed a pedicure.
Winston, our Ocicat, curls up on my lap and relaxes and purrs his noisy, breathy rumbles, looking up at me from time to time with his beautiful amber eyes to make sure I’m admiring him as rigorously as he requires. When I judge that he is suitably tranquil – that is, almost comatose – I attempt to cut his nails. I have always been able to caress his paws, insinuating my fingers between his pads, and he really enjoys that but as soon as he sees the clippers in my hand he becomes uncooperative, tucking his paws away beneath him, nudging the metal with his velvet nose, still droning like a well-oiled engine.
I nip off the tip of one claw and tell Winston what a beautiful boy he is. He stares at me – ‘I know that,’ he says and folds his paw away again. I extricate it and clip another point and inform him how much more comfortable he will be now. He directs another disbelieving tawny look at me and withdraws his foot. The purring continues.
I am anxious to tackle the ‘thumb’ claw, which is curving in towards his leg – I don’t want that to grow very much longer. I manage to disentangle the paw once more and successfully trim his thumb nail. He folds his front leg firmly underneath and looks at me again, a challenging expression in his eyes. I give up on that limb and move to a hind leg. The claws here are shorter and blunter because Winston often nibbles at them. Like a baby he chews his toes but not his ‘fingers’.
Eventually I manage to shorten all the claws on his left side but there is no opportunity to embark upon the right for Winston has decided to vacate my lap. Off he trots, tail held straight and high, clacking on his right paws, silent on his left, wallowing like a sailor home from the sea.
If you should happen to see a drunken cat seesawing towards you, tapping out Morse code with his right claws, you will recognise him instantly as Winston. Perhaps you might have better luck with the nail clippers;-)