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Home / Blog / cat care / How to Cut Cat Nails

November 17, 2018 |5 min read

How to Cut Cat Nails

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Your cat is probably your best friend, but what about those razor sharp claws that attack your toes in the middle of the night? Does he feel like a friend then? Of course! Nothing will change your love for your cat.
However, most indoor cats need help keeping their nails trimmed. If you possess the courage to take on this task, there are a few things you should know before you start. Read on to learn how to cut cat nails without a scratch.

Know How to Use the Clippers

Both you and your cat should feel comfortable with the sound of the clippers long before you start trimming his nails. Gather the clippers, some treats, and a cooked noodle. Have your cat sit on your lap and massage one of his toe pads until a nail pops out. Next, use the clippers to cut the noodle and then give your cat a treat. Repeat this a few times during a few different sittings to make sure you cat gets used to the sound and movement of the clippers.

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Set the Right Time and Place

cat getting nails clipped
It's easiest to start trimming your cat's nails when he is still a kitten, but this isn't always the case. You may have adopted your cat already grown or have just decided to start clipping his nails. Either way, it's important to choose a quiet area where your cat can rest on your lap. The sleepier your cat is, the easier it will be to clip his nails. Make sure there is nothing that can distract him during nail cutting time, like other pets, loud noises, or birds flying by the window.
To start, gently massage your cat's paws, but not for too long or he'll see this as an invitation to play. After massaging each paw for about three seconds, you can begin clipping his nails.

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Never Cut Down to the Quick

When it comes time to cut your cat's nails you will need to avoid the pink area. This is where the blood vessels and nerves are. You only want to cut the white part of the nail to avoid pain and injury to your cat. However, if you accidentally cut down to the quick, you can stop the bleeding using a styptic power or stick. Keep these items on hand before you start trimming your cat's nails.

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What Not to Do When Trimming Your Cat's Nails

cat getting a pedicure
Chances are, your cat may resist the trimming. If he does, don't yell or punish him. Instead, stop what you are doing and try again another time. Also, you don't have to trim all of your cat's nails in one sitting. Instead, trim three or four at a time to really get your cat used to the cutters and the action they take. Be sure to always have treats nearby to positively reinforce nail-trimming.
Your cat will typically need a nail clipping every ten days to two weeks depending on whether you cat is an indoor or outdoor cat and how quickly his nails grow back. Some cats will easily let you trim their nails, while others will not. If you have a cat that simply will not sit through a nail-trimming session, it is best to bring your cat to a professional groomer or veterinarian for regular nail trimming.
Do you regularly trim your cats nails? If so, we would love to hear more about the tips and tricks you use to get the job done. Tell us more about your cat and your nail-trimming tips in the comments below.


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Christina Scamporrino is a lifelong animal lover and began working in the petcare space in 2019. Christina’s passion for the community of feline owners and enthusiasts have led her to designing premium packaging for PrettyLitter cat litter, PrettyPlease dry food, wet food, and treats, and a litter box designed to solve common litter box issues.

Outside of her professional work in the petcare space, Christina is a longtime kitten foster and has worked with several cat rescues throughout Southern California. When given the option, she favors orange cats, but loves all cats equally.