Trimming cat claws

A How-To Guide

If scratch marks on your furniture isn't your idea of an appealing decor choice, then you should consider trimming your cat's claws regularly.

Cat paws

Taking kitty to the groomer for regular nail clippings can be the glamorous option, but it can also be expensive. If you're living on the shabby side of chic (or simply like to take care of things yourself), then home claw trimmings are your best bet.

The easiest way to get your favorite feline accustomed to claw trimmings is to start when kitty is young. If you were too lazy start early (or if the cat came to you as an adult), then it'll take patience, perseverance, and practice to get your cat used to the idea.

So how do you clip a cat's claws without an ensuing blood bath? That, my dear friends, depends on the cat. Seriously, some cats will take to it, others won't. But most will eventually suffer through the event. Here are some step-by-step instructions to help.

Before you start, inspect your cat's claws under a bright light. Gently squeeze the paw to extend the nails. You'll see the pink tissue (sometimes referred to as"the quick") in the middle of the nail. You must cut below that or you will cause pain and bleeding.

Now to the clippers. Special cat clippers are available, but don't fret, plain old people clippers work, too. You'll also need treats, a good, strong light source, and an astringent powder or pencil in case you do accidentally cut into the quick (if this happens, don't panic; soothe your cat and treat the wound with the astringent pencil or powder to help stop it bleeding). Ready to get started?

Step 1: Find a comfortable place

Pick a comfy spot in a well-lit room. Have everything ready. And make sure there's a special treat for kitty after the trimming.

Step 2: Prepare your cat

Hold your cat firmly between your knees, or in whatever position is best for you and your cat (you need to make sure the cat is secure). Take hold of the front paw and gently squeeze to extend the claw.

Step 3: Prepare your nail clippers

When you have a good view and hold, position the clipper a comfortable distance from the quick.

Step 4: Clip

Clip the claw vertically. This helps prevent the nail from splitting. Do it in one smooth motion.

Step 5: Reward

Reward your cat after this momentous occasion (the treat also doubles as a bribe; hey, you're not bleeding yet, right?). Repeat with each claw as your cat allows.

And there you have it, the easy, step-by-step guide to trimming your cat's claws. Don't worry if kitty only allows you to do one claw. Just keep going every day, one claw at a time.

Of course, if your cat absolutely refuses to allow you to do this (and thus ending your new career in cat grooming), don't worry. You can keep trying when your cat is sleepy or feeling affectionate. Just keep bribing, and throw in lots of praise while you're at it. Utilize an unsuspecting friend, loved one or passerby (okay, maybe not the last one) to help you with the project. If all attempts fail, then simply get a professional to help - go to a reputable groomer, or ask for it to be done during your cat's regular wellness check at the vet's office.

Have fun with cats

19 Reasons we love cats
10 Lazy-kitty obstacles to start your day
12 Purr-fect reasons to dress up your cat

Photo credit: Lori Lee Miller / Stockbyte / Getty images


Comments on "Trimming cat claws"

Katelyn August 12, 2013 | 11:25 AM

my favorite part is when you say "just keep going everyday, one claw at a time." my cats name is Odaat "One day at a time". i have tried to convince him many time that trimming his claws will not kill him, but im thinking my effort is a lost cause. he simply hates the clippers, as soon as he sees them he gets angry and tries to bite them or me. i have to try to keep up on his "thumbs" he has extra toes, because they dont retract so they snag in the carpet if they get to long. i have to do a "sneak attack" while he is sleeping to get his thumbs (one at at time).i have found over time that the easiest way to get a couple claws at one time is to have someone hold a treat firmly between their fingers, while i trim, and to start while he is full on sleeping (not just a nap).

Melissa October 22, 2012 | 10:54 AM

Hi J, the frequency of cutting claws probably depends on how quickly your cat’s nails grow. Some pet owners choose to cut them every two weeks so they only have to trim a little off at a time and some choose to do it monthly or even just 4-5 times a year. I think that clipping the claws vertically means to hold the paw and clippers up and down so that the nail is trimmed from the bottom to top rather than side to side. This should make it easier to see the quick (the visible vein inside the nail--it typically looks pink) and will hopefully avoid splitting the claw. Hope this helps!

j September 30, 2012 | 11:57 AM

You didn't say how often the nail clip will need to be done. Also I didn't understand vertical clipping. This is hazardous for both cat and owner so please get really specific for your readers that are not vet techs.

jon March 16, 2012 | 10:21 AM

I think all cats need to have their claws trimmed...I had a bad cat experience...i was scratched really bad...

Angela Dahl April 10, 2010 | 1:53 AM

Something I do, especially if your cat has a lot of fur on their paws is to use an old knee high stocking and place it over the paw, this pulls the hair back and the nails come through the nylon for easy clipping.

+ Add Comment

(required - not published)