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How to Cut a Cat’s Nails

January 21, 2012

Clipping our cats’ claws is often one chore that many of us dread, but it doesn’t need to be that way. If you’ve decided that your CH cat’s nails should be clipped, don’t worry. All you need is a little information, patience, practice and some confidence.

As simple as cutting your cat’s nails may seem, there are a few tips and tricks you should keep in mind to make sure that you and your cat have the best experience possible.

1. Pick the right tool: There are several great products out there; try to buy one with a curved, sharp blade. Some look like scissors with curved blades; there’s another type with a sliding “guillotine” blade.

One thing to keep in mind is that cat claws grow in layers, so a dull blade or human nail clipper may cause them to splinter and crack.

2. Hold your cat securely or have a friend hold him: This can be a stressful time for a cat, so you want to make sure he’s relaxed when you approach him. Pick him up and hold him in a stable position (sitting up in the crook of your arm) so you can use one hand to extend the nail, and the other to hold the clippers. If your cat wiggles and is hard to hold, have a friend hold on to him while you do the clipping.

Some cats don’t mind to have their nails clipped, so you may be able to try it while they’re napping or relaxing. If that’s the case, take one paw gently and see if he’ll let you hold it without him making a fuss. If so, odds are you can clip his claws without disturbing him.

3. Extend the nail: Use your thumb and forefinger to gently squeeze the top of your your cat’s toe and paw pad to make the nail extend out. Take a look to see where the nail’s quick, or the pink core that contains blood vessels and nerve endings, is located.

4. Cut the nail: For the cleanest cut possible, hold the cutters upright while cutting. This will apply the right pressure to the proper places. Only cut the tip of the nail; make sure you stay away from the quick.

Clip one at a time until you’re done. Sometimes this means clipping a few nails then waiting to finish the rest. You may not need to worry about the back claws, either. Hind claws are generally thicker and not as sharp as front claws. They also don’t shed as much, so you may not need to cut these claws nearly as often, if at all.

If you cut a bit too close to the quick and it begins to bleed, apply a little bit of pressure to the very tip of the claw and dab it with some styptic powder, cornstarch, flour or a dry bar of soap.

Once you’re done, reward your cat with a treat. And depending on how stressful it was for you, you can grab a treat of your own!

Do you clip your CH cat’s nails? Do you have a special process or tips? Please share in the comments!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mari permalink
    February 17, 2013 3:54 pm

    I have hand-raised my babies since before their eyes were open, so have an advantage over those who adopted older cats. I usually clip their nails when they are relaxed and happy. I snuggle them in my lap and start with their front feet, that way I get the most important ones done first, in case I am not able to do all four in one sitting. Don’t feel you have to do them all at once-you may have to start with just one foot each attempt.
    The other thing that helps my cats enjoy nail trim time is that afterwards is the only time they get to play with that neat shiny silver toy that makes such a cool noise on the hardwood floor (the clippers).

    • February 19, 2013 8:16 am

      Great advice, and I agree. I think, if possible, it’s super important to get our cats used to nail trimming early in life. I feel that can make or break their attitude toward it later in life!

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