Cat Nail Clipping Tips: How and When to Trim Your Cat’s Nails

December 7, 2021 8:25 pm Published by

The pitter patter of little cat feet is a lot less adorable when those same feet (and claws) rip up your furniture or dig into your legs. Trimming your cat’s nails is a good way to ensure they’re able to do less damage. How and when should you trim your cat’s nails?

While some cats loathe the nail trimming process, getting them used to it early in life can help. It’s certainly better than declawing, which is essentially surgical amputation. (It may also cause behavioral and health issues.)

Generally, you should plan to trim your cat’s nails every few weeks. Here’s how to approach the task.

How to trim your cat’s nails

These tips will help make the process as easy and painless as possible for both of you:

  • Keep your tools sharp: If you go to a pet store, there are many types of clippers available. Some of them slice, some will hold the claw in place while trimming and some act more like human nail clippers. Whichever tool you pick, just make sure it’s sharp. Otherwise, your cat’s nails could split or bleed. You don’t want to cause them pain, just to get them to stop shredding the sofa. When you use effective tools, your cat will quickly learn that it’s a fast and painless process (for them, anyway).
  • Approach and hold calmly: Feline temperaments vary wildly. You might have a cat who doesn’t mind their nails being trimmed at all, while others will howl and thrash like you have insulted their ancestors and bought the cheap food they hate. If you have someone who can help by holding the cat firmly, that can make the process a lot faster. Otherwise, try setting them on the table and lifting one paw at a time, or holding them in the crook of your arm to keep them in place. Some cats might be open to lying on their back in your lap.
  • Clip just a little off the top: You don’t want to cut very far down the nail—just the sharpest part at the top. When you hold their paw, place your thumb on the main pad, then gently push down to get their claws to extend. Then you can quickly snip just the tip (avoid the pink part, which can be painful and cause bleeding). Once one paw is done, give them a treat and move on to the next.
  • Prepare to try again later: Sometimes, no matter how careful and firm you are, your cat will just not be having it. It’s okay if you can’t get to all 10 of their front claws at one time. As long as you reinforce their (tenuous) patience with treats and other positive reinforcement, they’re more likely to put up with it the next time. If they run off, let them go and wait for the next quiet moment.

Now that you know how and when to trim your cat’s nails, the process should be easier. For guidance, checkups and more feline wellness services, schedule an appointment with Kingstowne Cat Clinic today.

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