How to Trim Your Cat’s Nails

Anyone can learn how to trim their cat’s nails at home. Learning to trim your cat’s claws will help prevent your furniture from being damaged and can save you money by not having to take your cat to a vet or pet groomer to have it done.

When it comes to our cat’s claws, many of us choose to go cruelty-free. If you have chosen not to declaw your cat or kitten then you must learn how to trim their nails correctly. Nail trimming is an important part your cat’s grooming routine. When your cat’s claws are left untrimmed they can cause damage to your furniture and to themselves. When their claws are long they can easily get caught in carpeting, clothing, furniture or their scratching post. This can lead to breaking and bleeding. And badly overgrown nails can grow into a cat’s paw pad, potentially leading to infection. While many cat owners are reluctant to trim their cat’s nails, once you learn how to do it, it can be as fast and easy as clipping your own.

Ideally, trimming your cat’s claws should start when they are still a kitten. This will get them use to the experience as they grow up. If you’ve adopted an adult cat with claws you may want to get them use to the sensation by holding your cat’s paws and extending their nails before you even take out the clippers. Have them lie on your lap comfortably. Try this routine when he or she is relaxed or even groggy after a nap. Try pressing on the bottom of their paw pushing out to extend the claws. If your cat pulls away, don’t squeeze or pinch; just follow their signal and keep gentle contact with his or her paw. Repeat this for several days to get them used to this new sensation. 

When you and your cat have accomplished paw holding and nail extension, it’s time to take out the trimmers. The best type of clipper would be one made specifically for cats or a small-sized (human) fingernail.

  • Place your cat or kitten in your lap facing away from you. Take one of his or her paws in your hand.
  • Press gently on the top of the paw near the nail while putting pressure on the toe pad. This will extend the nail to show how much needs to be trimmed.

  • With the nail extended, carefully clip off the sharp tip. Be careful not to cut the quick! You should be trimming off the sharp tip only. Remember, it’s better to take off too little than too much. You may want to keep a styptic (astringent) pencil or powder handy in case you accidentally clip into the quick and bleeding hasn’t stopped within a few minutes.
  • If your cat allows at this time, continue trimming as many as he or she will allow. If your cat gets restless, you may have to come back and do more later. This should be a pleasant experience for you and your cat. Do not force your cat to sit there if they do not want to. This will only make it more difficult the next time you need to trim their claws.
  • When you are finished, be sure to praise the cat and reward them with a cat treat.

Regular trimming will cause the quick to recede. Eventually you may be able to trim the nails shorter for less scratching damage. If you have an outdoor cat, it is better not to trim their nails. Outdoor cats need their nails to defend themselves to escape by climbing a tree or fighting off an attacker.

As with any new skill, it will become easier with practice and in no time you will succeed and claw trimming will become part of your normal routine.

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User Comments

    On March 17, 2011 at 11:17 am

    good information

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  3. Kristie Claar

    On January 31, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Excellent share!

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