Many pet parents think of nail trimming as a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be that way! With patience, plenty of treats, and an understanding of how to handle your cat’s delicate paws, nail trimming can become part of your cat’s at-home grooming routine. With that in mind, this article explains:
- Why you should trim your cat’s nails
- Tips for trimming your cat’s nails
- What other pet parents are asking about trimming their cat’s nails
Why you should trim your cat’s nails
Trimming your cat’s nails is important in order to help them maintain healthy paws. Without frequent nail trims, and easy access to scratching posts, your cat’s claws can curl in, grow into their footpad and cause intense pain. Keeping your cat’s nails short will also help protect you, and your furniture, from being unnecessarily scratched.
Tips for trimming your cat’s nails
The key to trimming your cat’s nails is to help them get comfortable with the clippers, having their paws held, and ultimately with the act of trimming itself. To do this:
Step 1: Get your cat comfortable with the clippers
- Start by simply showing your cat the clippers. Every time they sniff the clippers, give them a reward. This could be a treat, petting or praise.
- Once your cat is comfortable sniffing the clippers, start touching their paws with the back of the clippers. Everytime you touch the clippers to one of their paws, give them a reward.
- Once your cat is comfortable with the clippers touching their paws you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Get your cat comfortable having their paw held and nail extended
- Have your cat sit in your lap. You want them to be very relaxed. Then, gently take one of your cat’s paws in your hand and gently massage their paw for a few seconds. You want your cat’s nail to extend. Give your cat a reward immediately after massaging their paw.
- If your cat pulls away, don’t resist. Try again when they’re comfortable and give a reward immediately upon touching their paw.
- Practice this exercise for a few minutes each day until your cat is comfortable having you touch their paws. Once your cat is comfortable you can move on to the next step.
Step 3: Get your cat comfortable with trimming
- With your cat in your lap, and facing away from you, gently massage your cat’s paw so their nails extend. Once the nails are visible, choose one nail to trim. Only cut the white part of the nail - do NOT cut the pink part. The pink part is called “the quick” and this area is full of blood vessels, nerves and other tissues that support your cat’s nail.
- Do not trim more than 1 or 2 claws per sitting, and reward your cat heavily after each nail has been trimmed.
- If your cat resists, do not force them. Try again when they’re feeling more comfortable.
Aim to trim your cat’s nails every 10-14 days. If you have a lot of trouble getting your cat to cooperate, see if your vet or groomer can help next time you take them in!
Frequently asked questions about trimming your cat’s nails
How can I calm my cat down to cut their nails?
Wait until your cat is calm before attempting to trim their nails. To help them stay calm during nail trim sessions, focus on helping them build a good association with the clippers. To do this, give them a reward every time they sniff or show any interest in the clippers. Then, focus on getting your cat comfortable with having their paw held and nail extended. To do this, massage their paw gently, and immediately reward them after the massage. Lastly, get them comfortable with having their nails trimmed by only trimming 1-2 nails per session and heavily rewarding them afterwards.
Is it necessary to trim a cat’s nails?
Yes, trimming your cat’s nails is important in order to help them maintain healthy paws. Keeping your cat’s nails short will also help protect you, and your furniture, from being unnecessarily scratched. If you are having trouble trimming your cat’s nails, consult your vet or groomer.
Why does my cat hate getting their nails cut?
Many cats don’t like the restraint associated with the nail trimming process, and other cats don’t like their paws being handled. A cat’s paws are full of nerve receptors that make them extremely sensitive to touch and pain, so it’s imperative that you’re careful and don’t trim too close the quick (the area that contains your cat’s blood vessels and nerves) when trimming their nails.