Trimming your cat's claws is an important part of maintaining the animal's overall health and ensuring her comfort. Fortunately, trimming your cat's claws can be easy and quick with the help of these simple tips.
Use the Right Tools
A cat's claws are different from human nails and, as such, they require different tools. Using a human nail clipper to trim a cat's claws can result in tearing, pain, and even bleeding for the cat, so it's best to purchase a tool that is specially designed for claws. These tools hold a cat's claw in position while trimming takes place and may be significantly sharper than human nail clippers, which is important in ensuring a clean and even trim. If the tool does eventually become dull, be sure to sharpen it or replace it with a new one, as blunt pressure on a cat's claw may cause bruising, split nails, or pain.
Hold your Cat Gently
Although some cats will tolerate claw trimming with no restraint at all, this is rare, and most cats will need to be held firmly yet gently while trimming takes place. You can do this alone by holding your cat in your lap or you can ask a friend with whom your cat is familiar to hold her while you focus on trimming her claws. Either way, it is important that your cat feels secure and comfortable rather than afraid. Holding your cat gently while trimming the claws ensures her safety and increases the probability that she will remember the experience in a positive light.
Introduce your Cat to the Clipping Process Slowly
Before you get around to the actual trimming, get your cat used to the sensations and tools gradually. Start by massaging her paws lightly between your fingers for up to three seconds. If she pulls her paw away, allow her to settle before trying again. Press lightly on the pads of her paws so that one of her claws is extended, then quickly let go of her paw and give her a treat.
To help your cat get used to the sound and proximity of the claw clippers, place a piece of uncooked spaghetti in the clipper and hold it close to your cat while she is on your lap. Go through the massaging exercise again. Every time one of her claws is extended, clip the spaghetti with the clippers while you keep gentle hold of her paw. Then release her paw and immediately give her a treat. Once your cat is used to this routine, you can move on to trimming her claws.
If you cut a cat's claw too short, you risk nicking the quick that run down the center of the claw, which contains nerves and blood vessels, and causing bleeding and pain. It is therefore wise to start long and trim the claw gradually more as needed. To ensure a proper trim length, gently press down on the joint that lies just behind the cat's paw. This will help the claw fully extend so that you can gauge how much to trim. Generally, a good trimming involves only removing the sharp claw tip.
Let the Cat Set the Pace
Few cats enjoy claw trimming, and often won't allow their pet parents to trim all ten claws in one session. This is perfectly fine. It is more important that your cat not feel stressed, afraid, or resentful than it is to complete the entire claw trimming in one sitting. Trim as many claws as your cat will allow, and then let her take off for a short break. To reward the cat, offer a special treat, and revisit the session later. Most importantly, offer your cat plenty of praise and physical affection to reinforce that claw trims can be a positive experience.
Although trimming your cat's claws can be difficult, these simple tips will help keep the process as quick, easy, and painless as possible for both you and your furry companion.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.