How To Trim A Cats Claws

This guide was written by Joe Francis
Updated: November 17, 2020
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In this guide

Trimming your cat’s nails can be quite the ordeal. Some owners, in an effort to protect themselves from a cat that doesn’t like to get its nails trimmed, wrap their cats in a blanket or towel. But wrapping your cat like a doll is likely to put it in a bad mood. So skip the wrapping! You can trim your cat’s claws without the tears, scratches, or angry meowing.

Where do you cut your cats nails?

When cutting your cats nails you are looking to remove the tip of the nail. You need to be aware of the quick within the cats nail that will cause the cat pain if it is cut. You can normally see the quick through your cats nail, and we find leaving a gap between the quick and your trim is the safest way to protect your cat (as detailed below).

How to cut a cats nails

1. Set the Right Mood

Create a relaxed atmosphere for your cat; you don’t want them to feel tense or afraid. The best time to trim their nails is when they’re sleepy. Cuddle and stroke your cat until they are purring happily. Make sure you are in a room with few distractions that could startle your cat. 

2. Massage their Paws

Once your cat is relaxed, take hold of the paw you’re going to start with. Massage it gently in circular motions. You should notice that your cat’s eyes are closed or almost closed. If they pull away, let them, and then retrieve the paw again. Massage it with enough pressure to expose the claws and give them a treat. If they want their paw back, let them have it. Repeat this until you have located all claws on each paw.

3. Time to Clip

Before you start clipping your cat’s claws, let them get used to the sight and sound of the clippers. They may even be curious – this is a cat we’re talking about. This is fine! Let them explore the nail clippers in the safety of your arms. Use the clippers on a piece of uncooked spaghetti so they can get used to the snapping sound of the clippers. It may startle your cat at first, but they’ll settle down eventually and get used to it the more they hear it.

Start clipping your cat’s claws slowly and methodically while massaging each paw. Don’t rush; take your time, and reassure your cat. Before long, you’ll be done.

How to restrain your cat when cutting their nails

No matter how much you try, some cats simply won’t cooperate when you try to trim their nails. In these instances, you should try to restrain your cat in the following way:

  • Sit comfortably on a chair
  • Hold your between your legs as if it is sitting with its back against your stomach
  • Hold the rear of the cat between your legs whilst holding your cats front legs with your hand
  • If your cat is particularly difficult you may find having an assistant to actually trim your cats nails will be easiest.

Quick Do’s and Don’ts

  • Don’t rush the process.
  • Don’t raise your voice at your cat; they may scratch.
  • Don’t pin your cat down if they get agitated.
  • Don’t cut their claws too close to the quick. This will be painful and will cause them to have a negative association with trimming.
  • Do let them go if they want to go. You can always start over again when they calm down. 
  • Do be gentle and patient with your cat.
  • Do keep treats on hand.
  • Do keep a styptic pencil close by in case you accidentally cut too close to the quick and they start to bleed.

Conclusion

You don’t have to swaddle your cat to trim its claws; you just need a lot of patience – and a compliant cat! We recommend getting your cat used to nail trimmings while it is still a kitten. As they grow older, it will become a quick and easy routine.

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