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A Step-By-Step Guide to Trimming Your Cat's Nails

Trimming your cat’s nails doesn’t sound like a fun chore, does it? Most cats won’t let you touch their paws, let alone trim their nails! But it’s something that needs to be done for your cat’s overall health and comfort.

Here are some tips for how to get started, followed by a step-by-step guide to getting those claws to the right length. (And if you’re a dog owner too, check out our step-by-step guide to trimming their nails!)

Why Trimming Your Cat’s Nails Is Important

Scratch posts, boxes, cat trees, and your furniture only go so far in keeping your cat’s nails short, sadly. This means you have to regularly trim their nails. Without trimming, long claws could lead to serious problems, like turning in on the pads, creating pain and a potential infection.

Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed can also lead to more comfort for you. There’s nothing cuter than a cat kneading your leg, but it can quickly turn to an “ouch” moment if they catch you with one of those needles. Longer claws also make it easier to scratch during play, rip up the carpet, or tear apart the couch.

Just trimming the tips can make a world of difference for you and your furbaby. How often you should trim your cat’s claws varies and depends on how fast they grow. We recommend you check them every two weeks, though older cats may need to be checked once a week.

If you don’t feel comfortable checking or trimming your cat’s nails, or your cat just won’t cooperate, give us a call at 281-693-7387, and we’ll happily schedule an appointment!

Materials You Need

Everything you need to trim your cat’s nails can be found online or at your local pet store. Here are just a few things you should have handy:

  • Nail Clippers
  • Styptic powder or styptic pencil
  • Treats

For cats, you have two choices when it comes to nail clippers:

  • Scissors
  • Guillotine

Scissor clippers, which use a scissor motion, are a great choice if you’re new to nail trimming or just need to trim the tip of the nail.

Use guillotine clippers for thicker or tougher nails. They work by sliding the claw into a slot, where a blade cuts it.

In most cases, scissor clippers will get the job done.

Styptic powder is essential in case you make a mistake while trimming your cat’s nails. If you cut too far, the powder or pencil can stop the bleeding. Always have this on hand before attempting to cut your kitty’s claws.

And treats are always a good idea! They can help your cat relax and start to enjoy their regular manicures.

Note: Never use human nail clippers on cats or dogs. Human nail clippers are not designed for the shape of animals’ nails and could lead to injury.

Your First Few Times…

The Internet is a wonderful place for learning how to trim your cat’s nails, and so are we! You should always watch someone who knows what they’re doing trim an animal’s claws before you attempt to do it yourself. YouTube videos are a great place to start, but you may also want to ask one of our expert groomers for advice before getting started.

Always ensure your cat is comfortable before starting with the trim. We highly recommend you start slowly. In the beginning, this may mean just getting your cat comfortable with you touching their paws and the sound of the clippers. Once they relax, you may then only be able to get one nail done before they get uncomfortable. This is okay. Never try to cut a cat’s nails while they are stressed, anxious, or uncomfortable. It could lead to accidents or injury.

Once your cat is more comfortable with the procedure, you may want to try to do a paw a day until they can sit still for all four. Always have treats on hand to reward them, especially when you’re starting out.

If you can, try trimming your cat’s nails when they are still a kitten. Starting early can be much easier for you and your cat.

how to trim cat nails

Steps to Trim Your Cat’s Nails

When both you and your cat are ready, it’s time to trim their nails.

Step 1: Hold your cat.

Hold your cat in your lap, facing away from you. Only continue to the next step if they are comfortable.

Step 2: Massage the paw.

Take your kitty’s paw into your hand, and slowly massaging it. Press the pad lightly to extend the claws. Determine which nails need to be trimmed.

Step 3: Find the quick.

This is the pink part of the nail, where all the blood and vessels are contained. Avoid cutting this part. You may want to trim less than usual just to be on the safe side.

Note: If you accidentally cut the quick, use the styptic powder immediately. Hold it to the cut nail, and stop trimming for the day. If you’re nervous about how much you cut the quick, you can always make an appointment for the vet.

Step 4: Clip!

Clip the nails using either your scissor clippers or guillotine clippers.

Step 5: Treat!

Bring out the treats! Even if you only managed to get one nail trimmed before they grew uncomfortable, they should still get a few. Treats can help reduce the stress of the procedure.

When to Take Your Cat to A Professional Groomer or Vet

Trimming your cat’s nails can be quite an adventure, especially if it’s the first few times and they aren’t yet comfortable. If you don’t feel confident that you can trim your cat’s nails or your cat isn’t relaxing after a few weeks of attempts, you should absolutely schedule regular appointments with your veterinarian or professional groomer.

If your cat’s nails ever reach the point of affecting how they walk, it’s important to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. Your cat will be in pain and may require antibiotics.

Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed and well taken care of is essential to your pet’s health. Scratching posts are simply not enough to do the job! If you are struggling with trimming your cat’s nails and they’re getting long, it may be time to make an appointment. Call us at 281-693-7387 to schedule one!

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The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital

Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital serves Katy, TX and the surrounding areas with a dedication and passion for our animal friends that is unmatched. Our veterinarians are highly trained, experienced, and compassionate when it comes to giving your pet the care they deserve. If your companion is in need of emergency care, a dental cleaning, grooming, or just a check-up, we would love to see them! Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment quickly and easily.

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