Monday, July 12, 2010

Clipping a Lion's Claws

One day I was trimming Aragorn's claws. 

Let me tell you about Aragorn. He's a 1-year-old Savannah; in other words, one of his grands was a serval. This is hard for me to admit because, as a rule, I think hybrids (wolf- or cat-) are really difficult animals to live with and most people aren't prepared for how complex it can be. Let me assure you, my hybrid cats (I have 3) are a huge pain-in-the-neck most of the time. But that's my personality, I like a challenge. However, I would never suggest that someone get one of these cats. If they do, I'll be happy to provide the veterinary care for their new master. But I sure don't go out of my way to recommend cat hybrids to anyone.

So. Aragorn. He's stunning, peaceful, and huge. The peaceful part is so unusual for Savannahs that I've secretly wondered if he's a bit, well, slow. But the first time I trimmed his claws I saw the African veldt in his little eyes. He became an absolute lion. 

He was about 12 weeks old the first time. It was a struggle, but we got it done. Alas, I put off the next trimming until he was about 6 months old. (This was mistake number 1.) I set up everything in our bathroom -- a nice enclosed space. I asked Tim if he'd clip the nails while I held the 9 pound kitten. (Mistake number 2: don't alienate your husband by asking him to trim the claws on the lunging paws of a miniature lion.) By the completion of nail #0, I released Tim from his nail clipping duties. By this point, the poor kitten had growled and yowled several times, attracting the attention of Finn, the borzoi, who stood in the doorway to watch. (Mistake number 3: leaving the bathroom door open in the first place. Mistake number 4: not evicting the 95 lb dog and closing the door.) Nail clipping resumed, yowls increased in volume.

This brought big brother Odin to investigate. (Mistake number 5: never name your hybrid cat after the King of the Gods.) 

Odin. He really is Aragorn's half-brother. He's as wild and opinionated as Aragorn is laid-back. But by 3 years of age, Odin and I'd come to understand each other and he'd stopped lunging at me from hidden corners (just to see me jump), stealing food off of Tim's plate, swiping my socks and hiding them, and many of his other, um, endearing behaviors. But he still opens all of the kitchen cabinets for the other cats if his breakfast is late.

So Odin came running, reared up to full height, wound up for the swing, and swatted Finn (who was still standing in the bathroom doorway) soundly on the rump. Finn yelped, ran forward and wedged himself in a perfect tuck sit between the toilet (where I sat with Aragorn on my lap) and the wall. Odin came in as well and sat on the bathroom rug growling low in his throat which kept Finn in his sit-stay. (Mistake number 6: could I not have realized at this point that quitting was the better part of valor? No. I only had 1 paw left. Stubborn Blackmer.)

At this point, Aragorn was no worse than to start, Finn not withstanding. He was tolerating my nail clipping, but still swearing a blue streak. Yet, when I finished and let him go, he jumped peacefully on the bathroom counter and sat down to have a bath. He purred when I patted him. Fickle, cats. 

Odin swatted Finn once more, just because, and left. I released Finn from his sit-stay. Somehow I emerged unscathed.

I was grateful that my husband, the photographer in the family, had graciously left the camera downstairs.

Postscript: claw clipping is on my list of activities to clicker-train. Perhaps while I'm clicker training the cats to appreciate it, I could clicker train Tim to do it?

But then I'd have to take over cleaning the gutters. 

On second thought, I'll stick with claw-clipping.


  1. Just think Doc, if you get yourself a "Gutter Clutter Buster" gutter cleaning attachment tool for your wet/dry vac, Tim will be so jealous on how easy, safe, and "almost fun" to do, he'll take it away from you and he'll never give it back to you. Its a win-win situation. Try it, I did and it works! Now my wife cleans all our gutters with the Gutter Clutter Buster!!!

  2. So...I ran across this adorable picture of "Prince Aragorn" while doing a Google image search, and I simply have to ask: would it be alright if I used the picture for non-commercial purposes? I have an avatar in mind--just love the way he's cuddling that book!

    Sorry for the off-topic/random request. :3 In any event, he really is a cutie.