Day to day musings of a cat minder/ sitter in North Tyneside and Newcastle upon Tyne . For details of services go to

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Sunday, 15 June 2008

CatCaller learns to clip Piggy Toenails

Cleaning pigster cage this afternoon and notice both guinea pigs skipping about on long curly nails . Hmm , a visit from auntie Laura with the nail clipppers in her handbag long overdue , I decide the nails are Too Bad and settle myself with a towel on my lap , a pair of human nail clippers at the ready , greyhound watching at a safe distance , and specs on the end of my nose . I put off the evil moment by reading the Observer magazine from cover to cover then ask D to transfer Hedgehog , the Pig with whom I feel the strongest affinity ( and the one least likely to nip me ? ). H settles in happily for a cuddle then notices the tension mounting on my face and looks up at me . Alice looks at me too . D starts hoovering indoors . Great !
I pick up the clippers , take a tentative grip on Pig's foot , which she immediately snatches back , affronted , and tucks in under her extensive tummies , three warning grunts letting me know where I stand .
Hmm . ( again ) .
The neighbours are in their yard too , obviously reading and talking about something soothing and easy , Sunday -like . I wish I was them .
Alice glances at me . Now what ?
Now what indeed ?
I breathe in and out , deeply and start again . That last effort didnt happen . It is a new toe nail .

I put down the clippers and stroke Piggy gently .. she wiggles and settles . The sun shines on us both and the cloud slips away . This is better . This we can both do . Alice sinks down onto her towel , and sighs heavily . No sweat .

I breathe again . I remind myself about this breathing . Maybe I should be doing this more often . Its really quite relaxing , de stressing . Hedgehog shuffles further , presses against me , she is so so sweet . I am tempted to throw the clippers to the bottom of the yard , settle in myself and snooze off in the sun ... but where would that leave us . Get a grip woman !

I slide my hand round again for that little elusive foot ... where is it hidden now ?

I am seven years old , in my grandma's hen house , helping her collect eggs from the nesting boxes , from under the hens , who are sitting on top of the eggs . Horrors , my hand has to go in under the hen to get the egg . I stand there dithering , scared , whilst my sister , aged five , ever feistier than me , shoots in the hand, grabs the egg and brings it out , triumphant ,and then tries to explain how to do it : " Just put your hand in , quick ! " . I try , half hearted , and the hen , sensing my panic , stabs at me with her pointy beak , her wattles shaking in disgust .

Here I am again , trying to hold the guinea pig's foot with courage and confidence and I am seven again and how many times have I watched Laura do it with ease , hold the foot , steady the toes even as the pig kicks , clucking reassuringly and snip ! the nail is history !

I can do it ! I can ! I will .

Alice raises herself again to watch and I catch her eye .

I have a plan . Pig and I are going to relax for ten minutes , then when she is relaxed , I am going to snip off a tiny bit of the nails without holding the feet , which is what is making us anxious .
The feet are beginning to splay out from under her as she is settling and falling against me , and in a few minutes I will just slide the clippers against each nail and trim off a tiny bit . There is no question . It is going to be a success.

And there you have it .

We succeed .

Alice smiles at me .
Hedgehog is a relaxed Pig and Tinkerbell can't wait for her turn ......

Phew !


Laura said...

p.s. sometimes a Special Treat such as a piece of brocolli or apple is enough to distract squirmy piglets long enough to snip..

BetteJo said...

I've never trimmed my cats nails - although when we go to the vet they do it sometimes. It's just not worth the fight - and luckily they're not too long. YAY for you - succeeding!

Silliyak said...

Have you seen "Nobody's Fool" with Paul Newman. There's a scene where he talks to his grandson about being brave. Check it out. (The book is supposed to be good also)

Anonymous said...

Hi Shelagh
Back safe from Norfolk! made me smile, I am a coward and Bjs foster mom (where Bj goes wen we r away) comes around with nail clippers!! I try and hide!! she calmly (ok bribes) Bj and soon job is done!
I am making another appt at vets as she seems still in distress wen she wees! Rose gave her some cranberries while we was away,
Shelagh, Where we were in Norfolk was so dog friendly!! bowls of water outside peoples homes, dog friendly pubs! my brother in law has a heinz 57 dog (prince) we used to take him to beach!! according to James its doggy paradise hehe
Take care
fotos to follow

MsCatCalls said...

Thanks for all your Piggy Toenails encouragement ... I need it to keep me spurred on to do Tinkerbell's , though I did manage to get a little bit off a few of hers last night too .

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