Clipping Your Cat's Claws

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

23 September 2016

Your cat is generally happy enough to look after its own claws, but every now and again he may need a helping paw.  Approaching your cat's killer claws can be nerve-racking, after all you spend most of your time trying to avoid them, but monitoring and regularly trimming your cat's claws will help your cat avoid ap-paw-ling infections, discomfort and difficulty walking.

A scratching post, particularly one with a rough surface, is both a practical and fun investment for your feline friend as it allows him to wear down his claws without your help (or the help of your prized coffee table). However, a trim every few weeks will benefit your cat greatly, think of it as the human equivalent to a monthly manicure - a little treat that will leave your cat feeling like the human's pajamas.

A good indication of when to clip your cat's claws is whether you can see the claws peeking out when they are retracted. Back paws generally need more attention as they are less likely to be used on a scratching post. Indoor, elderly and less active cats are also likely to need their claws trimmed more regularly, since they’re less likely to be wearing them down. Don’t forget to keep a scratching post in your outdoor cat enclosure to facilitate a sun-blessed scratching session.

The claws are out!

As your parents always told you, the earlier you start something, the better. If possible get your cat used to having his paws touched as a kitten. Some people find that their cats are more accepting of having their nails clipped if they are sitting on their knee.

  • Before you even begin to trim your cat's claws you need to get your cat to extend his claws. This is not as tricky as it may sound. Take one paw in your hand and gently apply some pressure to the top of the foot and the cushiony pad underneath - this should mechanically extend the claws.
  • Use sharp, high-quality cat nail clipper to cut off the white tip of each nail, just before the point where it begins to curl. Bear in mind that a kitten’s claws are softer than those of an adult cat so filing them with a nail file is less likely to cause pain or bleeding.
  • Cats have a vein that runs into their claws called the quick, this pink area is clearly visible and can be seen through the nail. Avoid cutting this.If you accidentally cut into it it may bleed, which is unpleasant rather than cat-astrophic, just apply some styptic powder to stop the bleeding.
  • Trimming your cat's nails is a work in progress. Few cats will sit still long enough for you to trim all their claws at once. So do what you can and reward him with a treat and plenty of praise. With a little training, it gets easier.

If you’re still biting your nails at the thought of trimming your cat's, then consider taking your cat to a groomer instead. But this should be a last resort - we believe in you, human!

For more information about grooming your cat, check out our pawesome guide.


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