Nail Trimming

Nail trimming is an important part of your cat’s grooming routine. Many cat owners are reluctant to trim their cat’s nails because they are afraid of hurting the cat. While it can be intimidating at first, once you learn how to do it, clipping your cat’s nails is almost as easy as clipping your own. For best results use a pair of clippers made specifically for cats or a small-sized (human) fingernail clipper.

The Quick

The pink part of a cat’s nails is called the quick. The quick is where the nerves and blood vessels are located. Snip only the white part of the cat’s nail. It’s better to be cautious and cut less of the nail than risk cutting the quick. If you accidently cut the quick, the bleeding that occurs can be stopped by using styptic powder or styptic stick. It’s a good idea to have one of these nearby, and they can be purchased at most drugstores.

A Slow Introduction

Make sure your cat is comfortable with the clippers before you start. Ideally you should introduce your cat to nail clipping when he or she is a kitten, but if that’s not possible, you should slowly introduce your cat to the routine. Choose a quiet place to start the introduction. Try to approach your cat when he or she is relaxed or even groggy after a nap.

Gently take one of your cat’s paws between your fingers and massage for no longer than a count of three. If your cat pulls away, don’t squeeze or pinch; just follow the signal and keep gentle contact with his or her paw. After your cat is still again, repeat the gesture and softly press on your cat’s pad to extend the nail. Release the paw and give your cat a treat. Repeat this exercise several times before you actually clip your cat’s nails.

Trimming Schedule

How do you know when your cat’s nails are too long? Their nails will start to snag on carpet, furniture, or your clothing, and you may hear them softly clicking as they walk on hard surfaces. Although scratching posts help, you will still need to trim them every two to three weeks.

Clipping Instructions

Follow the simple steps below to be successful with your cat’s nail trimming. You may want to do just one paw at a time for the first couple of sessions.

  1. With your cat in your lap facing away from you (if this an uncomfortable position, lay the cat on his or her stomach or side), take one of his or her paws in your hand.
  2. Press gently on the top of the paw near the base of the nail, while putting pressure on the toe pad. This will extend the nail. Check to see how much of a trim the nails need and notice where the quick begins.
  3. With the claw extended, carefully clip off the sharp tip of one nail.
  4. If your cat didn’t notice and is still comfortable, clip another nail.Follow the same procedure with each claw, being careful not to forget the dewclaws on the side of the cats front paws.
  5. When finished, be sure to praise the cat and reward him or her with a special treat. If your cat refuses to let you clip his or her claws, ask your veterinarian or a groomer for help.


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