How to Trim Your Cats Claws

Useful Skill May Blunt the Damage

Most cats are capable of keeping their claws the proper length, either by scratching an object such as a scratching post or by chewing off the claws outer layer.

According to James Richards, DVM, director of the Cornell Feline Health Center, only rarely does a cat need human intervention to keep the claws from growing so long that they arc into the pad. He explained that the ones that usually need the help are old cats or those with extra toes.

The obvious advantage of keeping your cats claws blunt is that any scratching will cause less damage, Richards explains.

So, if your cat cannot trim her own claws or has the uncharming habit of using her claws inappropriately on you or the furniture, a regular trimming can help.

Start by getting your cat accustomed to having her feet and claws handled; whenever youre snuggling, take a moment to massage each paw. Its best to train your cat to have her claws trimmed as a kitten. Be sure to reward her with a special treat  – one that she receives only during claw trimming or some other grooming procedure – before, during, and after the trimming. The best time to trim your cats claws is when shes relaxed or sleepy. Never try to give a pedicure right after a stressful experience or an energetic round of play.

While this is often a job for two people – one to hold the cat and one to trim the claws – with a little practice and a lot of patience you can learn to do it on your own.

Turn on a strong light. Trimming your cats claws in good light will help you see the quick – the part of the claw containing nerves and blood vessels. Cutting into the quick is painful and will cause bleeding.

Have everything ready before you start. Cats dont like restraint, especially for long periods of time .

1.) Place your cat in your lap, and gently hold one of her paws.

2.) Extend your cats retractable claws by placing your index finger underneath one toe and your thumb over the top of the same toe. Squeeze your thumb and fingers together gently. As you do, youll see the claw protrude; it will remain extended until you release your hold.

3.) Trim each claw just beyond the point where it starts to curve downward, using pet claw trimmers specifically designed for cats. Start gradually, clipping a few claws in one sitting, using positive reinforcement such as petting or treats as you clip. If bleeding occurs, apply pressure to the tip of the claw using styptic powder or a substitute such as baby powder or cotton balls.


Text Adapted From ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats and