Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed is important – it can help prevent injuries. Cutting your cat’s nails can be a challenge, as most cats don’t particularly enjoy having their nails clipped, which can lead to some unpleasant scratches for you.
Most cats will need their nails trimmed once every 2 to 4 weeks, although this can vary between cats, and cats that have access to scratching posts or who go outside will likely need it doing less often. Conversely, older cats are likely to need their claws trimming more often, as they shed them less easily as they age.
If you notice that your cat’s nails are starting to curl down towards their paw pads, it’s likely time for a trim. If you let your cat’s nails go too long without a trim, it can cause infection and be very painful for your cat.
Step By Step: Trimming Your Cat’s Nails
It can take some trial and error to learn how to calm your cat down enough to clip their nails safely. Here’s a step-by-step look at how to cut your cat’s nails.
Start by choosing an appropriate cutting tool and making sure you know how to use it
You can use human nail clippers, but there are also nail clippers designed specifically for animals that may be more effective. There are a few different types of these nail clippers – some have a sliding blade, more commonly known as a ‘guillotine’ blade, while others are shaped like pliers. For cats, the plier style are generally easier to use.
To use the clippers, hold them in your dominant hand and squeeze.
You should also make sure the clippers are sharp enough and that they don’t have any rust on them, as this can be dangerous for both you and the cat.
Make sure your cat is secure and comfortable
This is arguably the most difficult part of cutting any cat’s claws. Most cats do not like having their claws trimmed and will attempt to get away, so you’ll need to find a way to hold them securely.
Try holding your cat in the crook of your elbow while using the other hand to clip their claws – this position can help them feel safe while also making it difficult for them to get away.
If you have someone else around to help you, ask them to hold your cat while you clip their claws. For more relaxed cats, you can try to get them to rest on a favorite blanket or even bribe them with a treat. Over time, you’ll learn what works best for your pet.
Take your cat’s paw and gently squeeze it to apply light pressure to both the top and bottom
This will cause the nails to extend so you can cut them. You’ll need to do this quickly, as your cat likely won’t tolerate this for very long. You’ll want to make sure that you aren’t cutting the nails too short, as this can be very painful for your cat. You’ll need to identify the quick (the part of the nail that contains nerve endings and blood vessels). The quick is a light pinkish color and should be avoided.
With most clippers, you’ll need to hold the clipper perpendicular to your cat’s nails. This will ensure a clean cut and minimize any ragged edges. If you’re using a guillotine style clipper, the process will be a bit different.
Center your cat’s claw through the hole in the clippers, with the blade facing you. As you squeeze down, the blade will trim your cat’s nail.
If you accidentally cut a nail too short, your cat may start bleeding. Have first aid supplies on hand while trimming your cat’s claws, just in case. Dipping your cat’s claw in a styptic powder can help to stop the bleeding quickly.
Further Tips For Nail Trimming
Since cats don’t enjoy having their nails trimmed, it may take a few sessions to get all of their claws clipped. It’s best to stop whilst your cat is still happy and give them a treat than to force the situation and make them more nervous next time. Make sure to trim their dew claws, which are on the side of their paws.
You’ll also want to check on the back paws every once in a while. These don’t need to be clipped as often as the front paws, but may occasionally need a trim.
Having a scratching post available for your cat is also very helpful for keeping their nails short. Cats like to scratch to wear down the older layers on the top of their nails so that the new ones can grow.
Not only will a scratching post help keep their claws at a reasonable length, but it will also give your cat a safe place to scratch that isn’t a piece of furniture. A scratching post should be tall enough for your cat to stretch out fully, and secure.
If you’re having any issues trimming your cat’s claws, don’t hesitate to see a vet. Your vet can show you how to hold your cat securely and give you tips to help them calm down.
Trimming your cat’s claws regularly will make playtime more fun for both of you.