Tips for Trimming Your Cat’s Nails

Your cat’s nails (claws) are one of his most important tools and are essential for wellbeing. He (or she) uses them for balancing, turning, climbing, and for defense.

And yes, as most cat owners know, your feline companion also uses his or her claws for scratching—either on a scratching post or on household furnishings like curtains, rugs, or even wooden items!

Scratching is your pet’s way of caring for his or her own nails; it removes a transparent sheath that grows over the claws, sharpens them up and also shortens them, giving your cat better traction and control.

cats claw photo
Photo by meineresterampe|cc

While some pet parents have considered declawing their cat due to scratching that has destroyed their furniture, this is not considered a wise option, and many vets will not offer it, as cats rely on their claws to have a high-quality of life.

Trimming your cat’s nails is one way you can lessen your cat’s impact on your furniture.

Many people choose to take their cat to a vet or groomer for nail trimming, as it can be a tricky task that your cat may not enjoy.

However, with a few simple steps and a little time and patience, you can successfully trim your cat’s nails, and your cat will gradually adjust to the experience.

 

Here are some ways to introduce the idea of nail trimming to your cat. Remember, before you try to trim your cat’s nails for the first time, always ask your vet for instruction.

He or she can recommend appropriate clippers and show you where to cut.

 

First, check out your cat’s paws and count the claws on each one. Most cats have 18 claws in all, with 5 on each front foot and 4 on each back foot.

But, it’s quite common for cats to have extra claws (sometimes 6 on one foot), so make sure you count them!

Your cat’s claws are naturally retracted when they’re resting and relaxed, so you’ll need hold your cat’s foot with gentle pressure on the top and bottom of each toe in order to make the claw extend for trimming.

Before you actually trim the nail, it’s best to get your cat adjusted to the idea of having his or her feet held.

Each day for about a week, hold each of your cat’s feet and practice extending the claw.

Do not trim it and do not have trimmers with you. Give your cat a treat each day of this exercise.

cats claw photo

You can then gradually introduce the clippers over a period of days. Always let your cat smell them first.

Sometimes, human nail clippers are easier to use than those designed for cats.

The best time of day to cut your cat’s nails is probably when he or she is sleeping or even groggy after having a nap.

Trimming doesn’t have to be done all in one go, just trimming one or two nails a day while your cat is resting can do the trick.

cats claw photo
Photo by squibkey|cc

For trimming, the most important piece of advice is to not cut off too much. If in doubt, cut off less than you think you should.

Your cat’s nail has a hook on the end of it, and it’s the end of this hook that you’ll want to cut. It will be white.

The pink part of your cat’s nail is the “quick,” and this is where the nail’s blood supply is. You never want to cut this part, as it will be very painful for your cat. Just trim the white parts.

Sometimes, if your cat’s nails are dark, you’ll need to estimate where the quick starts, as it may not be pink. In those cases, always take off less than you think.

cats claw photo
Photo by OpenClipartVectors|cc

Sometimes, nail trimming may be a two-person job  , but with lots of tuna and treats, praise, and time, you can master it. Good luck!

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