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How To Trim Cat Nails: An Expert Guide

Home ยป How To Trim Cat Nails: An Expert Guide

For many cat owners, trimming their cat's claws is an unpleasant task. It can be time-consuming and tedious to cut a cat's nail far enough back so that it doesn't snag on objects but not so much that the nail stops growing or you hit their blood vessels. The process can also be painful for your feline friend, which may result in biting or scratching you as a defensive reaction. Fortunately, there are tricks to make this process easier and less stressful.

Why Do Cats Need Their Claws?

Cats use their claws for different purposes including climbing, self-defense and even marking territory through scratching surfaces like couches and carpets. If you have ever seen your cat clawing at the air in excitement, this is because retracting the claws after using them helps cats retain muscle strength in their forelimbs. Also, if you notice that your cat suddenly starts scratching more than usual (or at unusual surfaces), it is a sign that they are looking to mark their territory or that they may be stressed.

It could also mean it's time to break out the nail trimmers and give them a good nail trimming.

Steps To Trim Your Cats Nails

As difficult as this process may be, it's part of your job to trim your cat's nails. To make this task easier for you and less stressful for them, follow these steps:

1) Pick A Time During The Day When They Are Lazy

Since cats are nocturnal creatures they have way less energy during the day. This is your best shot at cutting their nails since they have less energy and aren't as likely to be alerted.

2). Gather Your Supplies

Quietly gather your claw cutting supplies quietly so you don't alarm them. Many cats understand where the nail trims are kept and will run and hide when they see you looking for them.

3.) Get In Position

It's time to get to your pet get them in a position where you can easily access your cat's claw. Read a quick refresher on how to pick up your cat here. We like to put them on our lap on the couch so we can hold them if they squirm too much. Remember that cats dislike their paws touched, so you are likely to get some cat scratches on your arm.

Bonus - if you have a helper, they can grab the top of the cat's neck to keep them in a docile state. It replicates the feeling they have when they were kittens being carried around by their mother.

4). Get Your Cat Paw

Now you need to grab one paw and hold it so the inside of their paw is facing you. Due to how a claw is shaped, this is the most effective way to cut cleanly. It's best to use cat claw scissors as they are specifically designed for cat claws and have a rounded blade for them, but it is true that some cats prefer human nail clippers, though they are a bit harder for cat parents to use.

It's normal for cats to struggle a bit before you start cutting their claws.

5). Start Your Nail Trimming (Only One Paw At A Time)

Begin cutting their nails making sure you aren't cutting too far down. This will cause them to bleed and hurt them since they have blood vessels at the edge of their nails. Try to be quick on your cuts so the nail doesn't splinter and minimize the amount of time you are holding your cat down. Cut at an angle to avoid hurting them.

6). Repeat For All Your Cat's Nails

We generally only cut our cats front paws since those are much more destructive, but if you want to have all of your cats nails trimmed you just need to readjust your position holding your kitty to access their rear claws.

Is It Necessary To Trim A Cat's Claws?

It's a good idea to leave your cat's claws intact, but as pet owners we know this can't always be the way. Cats love to scratch carpets, chairs, sofas, beds, etc; which can result in unsightly wear and tear. If you have a cat with particularly sharp claws, the risk of them scratching or nicking you is much higher as well.

In order to keep your furnishings from getting shredded and keep your kitty from scratching your skin, it's necessary to trim their nails. It may seem like a daunting task but it doesn't have to be if you follow a few simple steps to get their claws trimmed.

The truth is, you don't have to groom your cat at all if you're willing to accept certain consequences. For example, cats with unmanaged claws often start scratching other objects in the house such as furniture and walls. This is why declawing cats has become such a popular option with cat owners. But this will make it impossible for them to climb trees, or in our case, scratch our sofa - one of their favorite hobbies!

We don't like the idea of declawing cats. We prefer our cats to be as natural as possible, but we still do a nail trim to keep them in line.

Best Nail Clippers To Trim Your Cat's Paws

The kind of nail trimmers you use is just as important as how you hold your cat during the process. There are two kinds of pet nail clippers on the market: 

Guillotine Clippers

A guillotine style clipper works by inserting your cat's nail into a hole and then folding back the metal blade to cut off their claw tip. The principle behind this design is good, but many users report that it takes too much effort to cut through thick nails or claws which reduces control over their aim.

Scissor Clippers

This type of clipper looks like regular household scissors however there is a small notch on one side designed for pets nails. As you can imagine, they are smaller than conventional scissors so be careful not to break them. The angled blades keep the nail at an easy cutting angle which reduces your hand cramping and provides better aim than standard clippers.

Human Nail Clippers

If you don't have a set of pet nail clippers on hand, one option is to use regular human nail clippers. The problem with this approach is that many owners mention their kitty becomes more difficult to handle for the remainder of the session because they associate nail clipping with pain and discomfort. In addition, even if you do it perfectly, you're not using a tool specifically made for the job.

If you don't have any of these clippers on hand, do yourself a favor and buy some today or tomorrow before your cat's claws become too long to fix easily.

Alternative Solutions

Like stated above, you don't have to trim nails all the time for your cats benefit, it's just for you and your household. Scratching posts or even some exercise wheels are a great alternative to cutting cat nail all day long and are extremely affordable and natural solutions for most cats. This will allow them to keep their nails trimmed and have something else to tear up besides your carpet.

We hope this article helped understand how to trim cat nails easily and effectively!


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For many cat owners, trimming their cat's claws is an unpleasant task. It can be time-consuming and tedious to cut a cat's nail far enough back so that it doesn't snag on objects but not so much that the nail stops growing or you hit their blood vessels. The process can also be painful for […]

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