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How to Trim Your Cat's Claws

Avoid cat scratches and protect your home furnishings by regularly trimming your cat’s nails – about once every 10-14 days. Trimming your cat’s nails yourself might seem daunting or impossible, but with a little preparation and the right tools, you can take the stress out of cutting your cat’s nails.

Step One: Use Rounded Nail Cutters

If you want the best results when cutting your cat’s claws, start by getting the right tools. Do not use the same clippers that you use on your own nails. Instead, find a pair of cat nail clippers. Cat claws grow in layers like an onion, and when you use the wrong tools, there’s a greater chance that the nails will split and peel. Protect your cat’s nails by using rounded cutters that will prevent splitting.

Step Two: Ease Your Cat Into Trimming

Whether your cat is a kitten or fully grown, no cat enjoys having their nails clipped. In fact, most cats don’t even like to have their paws touched. That’s why it’s a good idea to start small.

Get your cat used to you petting their feet. While they’re snoozing next to you, stroke their paws, slowly working up to holding their paw, massaging their paws, then extending their claws. This process could be slow. Your cat might get up and walk away from you in a huff, but by balancing out the paw petting with rubbing their head and giving them treats, eventually your cat will become more and more comfortable with you touching their paws.

Step Three: Hold Your Cat Securely

To cut your cat’s nails, you’ll have to hold them still. With time, you’ll find the most comfortable position for both of you, but most cat owners find it easiest to hold their cat with their back cradled in the crook of their non-dominate hand. Use your forearm across your cat’s stomach to keep them in place and use that hand to push out the nails. Get your cat used to being held in this fashion before you try clipping their claws.

TIP: To extend your cat’s nails for trimming, press on the pads of their toes while gently pulling back on the top of the toe. Remember to always be careful not to hurt your cat by using too much pressure.

Step Four: Clip Away

Once your cat is used to being held and having their paws touched, it’s time to start clipping. Hold your cat securely, push out their claws one by one and use the trimmers to snip off the sharp tip of the nail. Try to start this process at a point when your cat is feeling relaxed and calm.

During this process, your cat might become agitated or anxious, making it difficult to hold onto them. Instead of forcing them to stay still, feel free to let them go after clipping just one or two nails. It’s fine to take prolonged breaks and come back to it when your cat has settled down.

NOTE: Many people ask, “Does it hurt cats to have their nails cut?” The answer is more complex than a simple “no.” When you cut your cat’s nails, you’ll notice that inside the nail toward their toes there is a pink-ish area. This is called the quick. The quick is the living part of the nail, containing blood vessels and nerves. DO NOT cut the quick or close to it. This will cause pain and your cat might even bleed.

Regularly trimming your cat’s nails can prevent them from splitting or breaking, as well as help prevent them from damaging your home or from scratching you while playing or kneading. Just remember to be patient with your cat. Once they’re accustomed to the process, cutting their claws will become part of your care routine.

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