How To Trim Cats Nails At Home

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How To Trim Cats Nails At Home

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All cats should have their nails trimmed regularly. Like nails on humans and dogs, cat’s claws grow continuously. If they are allowed to grow too long, they can get stuck on carpets or furniture and cause painful damage.

“If the nails are not trimmed regularly, what we see, especially in cats, is that the nail grows all over the place and actually penetrates the paw pad,” says Dr. Irit Greider, DVM, Associate Professor in Clinical Primary Care. at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “This causes damage, infection and inflammation of the paw pad.”

Also, as any cat owner knows, longer nails lead to more accidental scratches on the skin, and cats can cause more damage if they decide to scratch your furniture.

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If you’ve never clipped your cat’s nails, the prospect of doing so can seem daunting. Don’t hesitate to ask your vet or groomer to show you how to do this. Most vets and groomers are happy to give a quick lesson. It’s something that can even be done virtually with a telemedicine appointment, Greider said. If you have all the necessary equipment at home, your vet can watch via video conference, give advice and guidance.

Trim your cat’s nails every two weeks. The nails on the front paws are usually longer than the nails on the back paws. This is likely because some cats naturally wear down their nails from running and climbing. It may be necessary to simply trim the tips of the back nails. Sometimes a cat’s back nails don’t need clipping.

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To trim your cat’s nails safely and effectively, you need the right tools. You can buy pet nail clippers that are small in size, suitable for cats and dogs, or you can buy cat-specific trimmers, which are usually small and ideal for trimming cats’ nails.

Plier or scissor style: These types of cat nail clippers are similar to wire clippers or miniature hedge clippers. The edges of the small, curved blades come together to grip the nail when you squeeze the handles. A classic example of this style of nail clipper is Miller’s Forge Pet Nail Clipper.

Cutting A Cat’s Claws

Guillotine Style: This style of nail clipper has a fully enclosed loop where you insert your nail. By squeezing the handle of the trimmer, the sharp blade drives down and through the nail, cutting it perfectly. TheResco Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper is a guillotine-style clipper.

Grinders: Grinders such as a Dremel can work great for slowly and gently removing a cat’s claw. Check out a pet trimmer like the Dremel Cordless Pet Dog Nail Grooming and Trimmer or the Wahl Premium Nail Filer.

Do not forget to buy a hemostatic pen or hemostatic powder with anticoagulants. If you accidentally cut the eb (the vein through the nail), a styptic pen or powder can help stop the bleeding. Kwik Stop Styptic Powder is a proven brand.

The key to trimming your cat’s nails is to use gentle but minimal restraint. Cats don’t like to be confined. If you try to hold your cat too tightly, he will likely try to escape.

The Clawful Truth

Greider recommends first sensitizing your cat to touch paws before diving into nail trimming. “Some cats have very sensitive feet, and some cats don’t like to have their feet touched,” she said. “One of the reasons accidents happen is because the cat is not calm. When you cut, they drag the claws and you can’t be precise.”

Sit quietly with your cat and gently touch its paws, toes and paws. Pet your cat and offer some of his favorite treats. It might be time to break out that canned tuna or baked chicken breast.

“If you do this several times a day for a week, the cat will eventually see that nothing is wrong,” says Greider. “That way, they get used to holding their paws and keeping their nails open. Once the cat is comfortable and you’re comfortable with their nails, go ahead and start trimming the nails.”

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If your cat likes to sit on your lap, try this position first. Feel comfortable in the sofa or chair. Poke the cat and give a treat or two to ensure she is calm and relaxed before you gently remove her paw to start clipping the nails. “If you can have two people with you, that’s great. One person can hold the cat and the other can take care of the feet,” Greider said.

How To Trim Your Chicken’s Nails

If your cat doesn’t like sitting on your lap, try placing it on a table or a cat. Place some food on the bench to distract him, then gently hold his paws to trim the nails. If you try this approach, it may be helpful to have someone else pet and feed the cat while you work.

Most cats have four claws on each front paw, plus a dewclaw that is higher on the inside of the paw – about the size of a thumb. The hind legs have four claws and no ergos. Some cats have extra toes. Cats with extra toes, called polydactyls, also have extra nails, so be sure to find and clip them all.

Like human nails, a cat’s nail is made of keratin, a hard protein. A vein called the fast vein runs through the center of each nail. Since your cat is full of fast nerve endings, you don’t want to clip it. Breaking the fast is painful and causes the nail to bleed, sometimes profusely.

Most cats have clear nails, so it’s easy to quickly see the inside (the pink part in the middle of the nail) and avoid clipping it. Cut only the hard, white part of the nail in front of the pink area. Don’t try to fast – leave some buffer space in case your cat acts out or makes a bad decision.

Living With A Clawed Cat

“You just want to cut the tip of the nail,” says Greider. “If in doubt, cut less. The pole can be seen very easily, there’s no need to get too close to it. If you feel you can cut a little more and the cat is cooperating, then you can go ahead and cut a little more.”

If you are concerned about using nail clippers to trim your cat’s nails, you can use a nail filer to trim them. Because nail clippers make noise and vibrate, some cats may be more uncomfortable than regular nail clippers. As with anything, it may take them a while to get used to sharp nails.

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If you accidentally cut the nail, your cat may howl in pain and the nail may begin to bleed. “Fast” nails injure the cat and may bleed profusely, but this is a minor injury.

“If you accidentally cut the eb, put a small amount of [styptic] powder on a cotton swab and apply it to the tip of the nail with a little pressure on the nail,” he said. “It usually helps stop the bleeding pretty easily. It’s not dangerous, it’s just painful.”

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Animal expert Jackie Brown has worked as a writer and editor in the pet industry for 20 years following her passion for animals. Her expertise includes dog and cat health, grooming, nutrition, food, hygiene, behavior and training. Jackie writes regularly for veterinary and pet industry media, including Dogster and Catster magazines, The Spruce Pets, Great Pet Care and All About Cats. He is a contributing author to National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Animal Health, Behavior and Happiness and the author of It’s Raining Cats and Dogs: The Meaning of Animal Expressions. She is the editor of Dogster and Catster magazines and former editor of several pet magazines, including Dog World, Natural Dog, Puppies 101, Kittens 101 and Popular Cats Series. Jackie received her BA in English from the University of California, Irvine. Before starting her publishing career, she worked in a veterinary hospital for eight years, helping vets treat dogs, cats, rabbits, pets, reptiles, birds and a memorable lion cub. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two children and her miniature poodle Jäger. Jackie can be reached at learn more about

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