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Claw Trimming for Cats

Did you know that it’s important to your cat’s health, as well as the safety of your curtains and furniture, to trim your cat’s claws every few weeks?  It’s true!!  And with a little practice, you can become a pro at trimming those claws.  Here are a few tips to help make claw trimming a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and your cat.

- Know Your Cat:  If your cat is normally a bit skittish and difficult to gently restrain, consider enlisting the services of a professional groomer or veterinarian.  If, on the other hand, you are able to soothe your cat and massage its paws without incident then you will probably be able to trim your cat’s claws safely.

- Start Them Out Young:  Starting out when your pet is just a kitten will help establish a claw trimming routine that your cat will become accustomed to.  

- Keep Distractions to a Minimum:  It’s best to choose a quiet room away from windows where there might be a lot of movement from birds and other animals that could catch your cat’s attention and cause it to move suddenly.

- Time to Start Trimming:  The following is an excerpt from an excellent article published by The Humane Society of The United States.  We have referenced the link below.

Staying on the Cutting Edge

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, 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 on hand to stop bleeding, such as styptic powder, cornstarch or a dry bar of soap (to rub the bleeding nail across).

Take Paws

If you approach a cat with a sharp object in one hand while trying to grab a 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 a cat while trimming its claws.

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 resting the cat in the crook of one arm while holding one paw with the other hand. Or place the animal on a table and lift one paw at a time. You may even be able to convince a particularly sociable cat to lie back in your lap. If you've got a helper, now’s their time to shine: ask them to hold the cat while you clip the nails, or just ask them to scratch your cat's favorite spot or offer up a distracting treat.

Taking a Little Off the Top

Now that you're in position and the cat's in position, put the claw in the right position, too. Take a 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 (without squeezing the entire paw, which would only increase the blood flow), dip the claw in a bit of styptic powder or cornstarch or rub the nail across a dry bar of soap. Don't continue if they’re too upset but keep an eye on them to make sure the bleeding stops.

It's common to only cut the front claws but take a look at the rear claws just in case they've gotten too long, especially if 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.

One At A Time

If you aren't able to trim all 10 nails at once, don't worry. Few cats remain patient for more than a few minutes, so take what you can get, praise your pet for cooperating, then be on the lookout for the next opportunity—maybe even a catnap—to cut things down to size.

We hope these tips will enable you to trim your cat’s claws safely and comfortably. Remember, if you aren’t comfortable with trimming your cat’s claws, the professional groomers at All About Paws will be happy to make sure your cat’s next claw trimming is done safely and comfortably.


All About Paws is a boarding, grooming, and doggie daycare service provider in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Located next to Ashby Animal Clinic, trusted veterinary clinic for over 40 years.

Contact Us today to schedule an appointment or to learn more!