How To Trim A Cat’s Claws

Cats can often naturally wear their claws down through their habit of scratching, but occasionally they may need a little bit of help.

Whether it be because they are struggling to manage it themselves, or you have noticed that their claws are splitting or not looking their best, cutting them with a dedicated pair of clippers could save a lot of issues in the future.

If left for too long, a cat claw can start curving, making it uncomfortable to walk. They also won’t retract completely and could get caught on carpets or outside, causing injury or infection.

How do I clip my cat’s claws?

Remember that when your cat is resting, its claw is often sheathed. This means hidden away, so you can’t see them. If frightened or excited, he will pull his tendons back to expose the claw.

Only trim a claw when it is fully exposed or you may risk cutting too much off

Even if they look like they’re out, they may not be out the entire way. You should press your cat’s paw between your forefinger and thumb to unsheathe the claw or make it fully visible. Don’t press too hard, and press in a massaging motion so it is a relaxing experience.

Only cut the transparent tip of the claw and remember that cutting off a tiny bit regularly is better than cutting too much off in a rush to get it done. Remember to check the ‘dew claw’, which is the claw on the inside of the leg. Many cats can’t look after this naturally because it isn’t technically on their paw.

Never try to cut them all at once if your cat is nervous because it could take quite a while.

How often should I cut a cat’s claws?

This can vary from cat to cat. It can all depend on how often they use the scratching post, go outside and play. Indoor cats would need them cut more often than ones that are always outdoors.

The general consensus is that it should be around every ten days to two weeks. If you’re unsure, ask a vet or groomer what they think in relation to your cat. Check claws every few days to see how they are coming along and look for any splits or damage.

Cat claw cutting tips

  • Try to start cutting your cat’s claws when they are still young, so they get used to the process and are more inquisitive compared to being scared. Many vets recommend beginning at around six months of age, which is the end of the socialisation stage of their life.
  • Practice runs are a good idea, just so they can get used to the sensation of you pressing their pads, and the look and noise of the clippers. If they go to sniff the clippers, place a treat on the top so they know there is a reward to be had.
  • Only trim claws when your pet is calm – never force them, or push them into something they don’t want to do. This will only agitate them further and mean they are less likely to accept it next time. When they are feeling sleepy is a good time to do it. Ensure you’re in a quiet room and there are no distractions either.
  • Always check your clipping product too. Ensure you find it comfortable to use, that the blades are sharp enough and the handles are sturdy. Read instructions, because no two products are always the same.

Could I cut too much claw off?

Yes – blood actually flows through claws in a vein called the quick. So if you go too far back, it could cause bleeding and pain. Look for a change in the colour of the nail, and if you aren’t experienced in this, practice makes perfect.

Don’t go all-in on the first go either; regular small trimming is better than one big trim which cuts very close.

If very nervous about this, purchase some styptic powder before you start which will stop bleeding immediately when applied correctly to the open wound.