Tips to Cutting Your Cat’s Nails – Timing and Treats Help!
27 October, 2014
Cutting Cats Nails

Our cats are inherently scratchers. They love to stretch, stick out those claws and scratch anything they can!  We love to keep our furniture and skin intact, so it’s important to trim your cat’s nails every few weeks.  As our cats get older, their nails thicken and they aren’t at sharp as when they were kittens.  Since we cat owners know that declawing is NOT an option, here are some tips to help you trim your cat’s nails.

We know our kitties hate getting their nails trimmed, but with the correct tools, patience and practice, you can learn how to cut your cat’s nails quickly and efficiently.  The key is to take your time, bring treats, and perhaps even someone to help you.  Obviously, you don’t want to trim your cat if he or she is in ‘hyper mode’.  The best time to trim a cat’s nails is right after he or she has woken up and is groggy. 

Choosing the correct cat trimmers

There are plenty of tools available to trim a cat’s claws; use the one that works best for you and your pet.  Some people prefer a special pair of scissors modified to hold a cat’s claw in place, others prefer human nail clippers, and still others choose pliers-like clippers or those with a sliding “guillotine” blade. Whatever your tool of choice, be sure the blade remains sharp; the blunt pressure from dull blades may hurt an animal and cause a nail to split or bleed. Keep something to stop bleeding, such as styptic powder, cornstarch, or a dry bar of soap (to rub the bleeding nail across), nearby.

Approach your kitty slowly while ‘hiding’ your trimmers

If you approach your kitty with a sharp object in one hand while trying to grab his or her paw with the other, odds are you’ll come up empty-handed. Because cats’ temperaments and dispositions vary greatly, there is no “perfect” way to handle your kitty while trimming his claws.  You know best what your kitty prefers.

Cutting Cats Nails

Time for a trim!

Some cats do well with no restraint at all, but most cats need to be held firmly but gently to make sure that no one gets hurt. Try taking your kitty in the crook of one arm while holding one paw with the other hand. Or, you can put your cat on your lap and lift one paw at a time. You may even be able to convince a particularly sociable cat to lie back in your lap.

Trimming your nails sometimes takes two people

If you’ve got a helper, ask your friend or family member to hold your kitty while you clip his or her nails, or just ask him to scratch your cat’s favorite spot or offer up a special treat while you do the trimming. The goal is to keep your kitty in place and still for as long as you can while you go at it!

Take it one paw at a time

Now that you’re in position and your kitty is ready to go, it’s time to place your cat’s claw in the right position. Take your cat’s paw in your hand and use your thumb and pointer finger to gently press down on the top and bottom of the paw on the joint just behind the claw. This will cause the claw to extend so you can quickly but carefully snip off the sharp tip and no more.

Don’t get too close to the pink part of the nail called “the quick,” where blood vessels and nerve endings lie. Just like the pink part of a human fingernail, the quick is very sensitive; cutting into this area will likely cause bleeding and pain.  If this happens, apply a little pressure to the very tip of the claw, dip the claw in a bit of styptic powder or cornstarch, and/or rub your nail across a dry bar of soap. Don’t continue if your cat is very angry, but keep an eye on him to be sure the bleeding stops.

You can get away with only cutting the front nails

It’s common to only cut the front claws, but take a look at your kitty’s rear claws just in case they’ve gotten too long or their sharp tips hurt you when your cat leaps on or off your lap. Since most cats fuss more about having their rear claws clipped, start with the front claws. (I have never clipped my Sammy’s back claws and never had an issue with them).

You might need more than one session to cut your cat’s nails

If you aren’t able to trim all ten nails at once, don’t worry. Few cats can stay still for more than a few minutes, so take what you can get and then be on the lookout for the next opportunity to cut your cat’s nails.  ALWAYS praise your cat with love and/or treats after a cutting session so your kitty can start associating the process as a good thing that gets rewarded.  As always, practice makes perfect and the more you try to cut your kitty’s nails, the easier it becomes for both of you.

If the process it too hard for you, it is advised to have your veterinarian cut your cat’s nails or you can also take your kitty to a professional groomer.  Some cats don’t mind getting their nails cut, while others just won’t tolerate it. Either way, it is very important for your cat’s health and your furniture to keep your cat’s nails short.


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