How to Trim a Cat’s Nails and Survive the Experience

Revisado por Ana Alonso Muñiz, veterinaria vocacional de nacimiento. Licenciada por la Universidad de León. Viviendo entre lametazos y arañazos.

If you have a cat at home, you are probably familiar with the experience of needing to trim the cat’s nails. When my cat Noa came home, one of the things that caught my attention the most was how quickly such a tiny creature’s nails grew.

Trimming your cat’s nails is a good tactic to prevent your cat from trying to manage this on your favorite living room furniture or your sofa’s fabric. Not to mention that you may end up with a few accidental scratches when you play with your cat.

It is recommended to trim your cat’s nails every two to three weeks. Initially, it may not be easy, and you will need patience and a bit of feline psychology to find the best time for it.

Importance of Trimming a Cat’s Nails

Trimming their nails helps keep them in better condition. With well-trimmed nails, you can prevent damage to your furniture and scratches on your person.

It is important to have one or more scratching posts per house, as scratching is part of their animal instinct and a good way to divert their attention from other more precious items. In my case, I have two, one made of cardboard and one of rope, and I can say that all the furniture in my house is still intact for now. However, the scratcher is not a magic object, and its attraction will depend on your kitty's preferences.

With nail care, you increase the need to use the scratching posts, where your cat will complete the care of its nails, renewing the old layers with new and healthy ones.

It’s also good to trim your cat’s nails to prevent diseases or infections. The nails are the areas where the cat has the most issues with fungi, infections, and pathologies, regardless of their age.

Moreover, when the nails grow too long and have a pronounced curve, they can dig into the cat’s paw pads, causing wounds or discomfort when walking.

When is it necessary to trim a cat’s nails?

Experts recommend starting when kittens are small to get them used to it and, thus, prevent them from generating more anxiety than necessary when they are adults.

Here is where we recommend getting your pet used to letting you check their gums and teeth, clean their ears, brush their fur, or trim their nails. They will be more docile as adults, making things much easier for you.

How to Trim a Cat’s Nails

Trimming your cat’s nails is a bit of a science, but with a little practice, it’s not difficult. With these tips, it won’t be uncomfortable for your feline friend or for you.

How to trim the cat nails properly
  1. Choose the right moment, when your cat is calmer. If they want to leave, don’t prevent them; there will be a better time to trim their nails later. Trimming a cat’s nails when they are excited is nearly impossible.
  2. Lay them in your lap and take their paws, stroking them gently; this will make them feel calmer and more relaxed. Cats don’t like having their extremities touched much, so their reaction can be a good measure to determine if it’s a good time to proceed.
  3. Use a special cat nail clipper. You can also use a nail file or grinder to file the nails, although it’s not an easy task and requires a lot of patience.
  4. Start cutting from the tip and go slowly, avoiding reaching the blood vessels. Be careful not to cut too much because cutting the inner vein will make it bleed, causing pain. This will make the process more challenging in the future because cats have a pain memory. So, the recommendation is to take it slow and easy.

You can start by cutting their front paws, which is easier than the rear paws, and then let them go. Later, repeat the process until you finish all the nails. Over time, the cat will feel calmer, allowing you to cut all their nails in a single session.

When you finish trimming your cat’s nails, reward them with a treat or their favorite food. This allows them to associate nail trimming with something positive, making them resist less in the future.

When to Visit a Veterinarian for Nail Trimming?

If you have doubts, fear, or if your cat is very aggressive, I recommend going to your veterinary clinic. If you can’t trim their nails at home, the cost is not high and may only increase a bit if sedation is needed to reduce their anxiety. There, they will explain step by step how you can do it at home and how to calm your kitty to make the job easier.

Arsenio Coto
Arsenio Coto
Growth specialist, feline rookie. I write to learn and provide answers to the hundreds of questions I've had since Noa 🐱 became a part of my life.

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