Trimming Your Cat’s Nails: 5 Things Beginners Should Know

Kitten with nails

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If you’ve just adopted a cat, you’ll quickly realize there are a few things involved with giving them a safe and loving home that you might not have thought about at first. One of those is trimming your cat’s nails.

Yep, cats need their nails trimmed too!

Cats can use scratching posts to naturally keep their nails in good shape. However, there are times where you will probably need to help out and give them a trim.

It can be intimidating for you and for your cat, especially if you’re new to this. That said, even beginners have to start somewhere when it comes to cat care.

Here’s a quick beginner’s guide to trimming your cat’s nails.

1. Accept That Cats Scratch

Cat scratching carpet

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It’s natural for cats to scratch things. Sharpening their nails is instinctive behavior for them, and it’s healthy.

Discouraging your cat from scratching is not advisable, but you’ll definitely want to redirect your feline’s scratching activities away from your furniture and towards cat trees or cardboard scratchers.

Your cat will do their part to keep their nails in shape, and it’s your job as the pet parent to know when to help them.

2. Know When To Trim Your Cat’s Nails

Cat's nails close up

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The more your cat scratches, the sharper their claws will become. As a result, you may need to periodically trim your cat’s nails.

How often depends to a great extent on your cat, but it’s safe to say that if you see your kitty getting stuck on carpeting or a blanket, their nails are likely going to benefit from a trim.

If you notice your cat accidentally ripping through fabric or scratching your skin, these might also be signs that it’s time to trim their nails.

3. Get Equipped To Trim Your Cat’s Nails

Cat getting nails clipped

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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.

4. Here’s How To Trim Your Cat’s Nails

Cat getting nails trimmed

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To trim your cat’s nails, simply clip off the sharp tips. Sounds simple, huh? Just remember to avoid cutting the nail too short, which may lead to pain and bleeding.

If you do accidentally cut your cat’s toenail too short, applying very gentle 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.

5. Start Slowly To Reduce Your Cat’s Anxiety

Cat stretching out

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While most cats can be easily trained to allow nail trimming–and it’s always good to start at an early age–if your cat seems fearful of having their nails trimmed, make sure to approach the routine slowly to 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 their paw 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 their nails with the trimmer, you can move on to actually trimming.

For cats with short attention spans that might get impatient during nail trims, try trimming a nail or two at a time.

It may take several sessions to get your cat used to having their toenails trimmed, but you’ll be fine if you go slowly and use plenty of treats and praise during the process.

Have you ever trimmed your cat’s nails before? Do you have any other tips for beginners? Let us know in the comments below!