Trimming your cat’s nails

Cats scratch. Sharpening their nails is an instinctive behavior for them. Discouraging your cat from doing so is not advisable, though it is perfectly acceptable to redirect your cat’s scratching activities away from your valuable carpeting and furniture to a more appropriate scratching post, cat tree, or other scratching device.

The more your cat scratches, the sharper his claws will become. As a result, you may need to periodically trim your cat’s toenails. How often depends to a great extent on your cat. If they are getting stuck on carpeting or are ripping through fabric (or your skin), your cat’s nails likely are too long and need to be trimmed.

Left untrimmed, it is possible for your cat’s nails to overgrow and injure his pads and feet. This is especially true for cats that have extra toes and/or extra toenails (for these cats, these extra toenails can easily overgrow). It’s important to check your cat’s feet often and trim as necessary.

Cat nail clippers

There are several different forms of nail clippers available. One of the most common is a scissor-like device that has curved edges that fit around the claw and cut. Another common nail clipper is a guillotine-like device that slides down over the nail as it cuts. Both types of clippers work well, so choose the device with which you — and your cat — feel most comfortable.

To trim your cat’s nails, simply clip off the sharp tips. Avoid cutting hte nail too short, which may lead to pain and bleeding. If you do accidentally cut your cat’s toenail too short, gentle digital pressure on the tip of the nail for a few moments is often enough to allow clotting and stop the bleeding. You can also use styptic powder or a styptic pen. In a pinch, press the nail firmly into a bar of bath soap to staunch the bleeding.

Reduce nail trimming anxiety

Most cats can be easily trained to allow nail trimming. If possible, start trimming your cat’s toenails at a young age.

For cats that are fearful of nail trimming, approach the routine slowly and give them time to adjust. Start by gently holding your cat’s foot, without attempting to trim the nails or otherwise manipulate the foot. Once your cat will allow you to handle her foot without fear, move on to handling the individual toes.

Next, introduce the nail trimmer. Simply tap the trimmer against the nail without actually trimming at first. When your cat will allow you to tap her nails with the trimmer, you can move on to actually trimming. For cats with short attention spans that get impatient during nail trims, try trimming a nail or two at a time.

It may take several sessions to accustom your cat to having her toenails trimmed. Go slowly and do not rush. Use plenty of treats and praise during the process.