A callico gets her nails trimmed.

Even if you’ve never trimmed a cat’s nails before, it’s not difficult to do. With some practice and patience, you can learn to trim your cat’s nails yourself at home.

Regularly trimming your cat’s nails keeps them healthy and can help prevent injury to you and your other pets. It also helps keep your furniture from being scratched up by kitty’s sharp claws.

When Should I Start Trimming My Cat’s Nails?

You should start trimming your cat’s claws when she’s still a kitten. This way, you can get her used to having her paws handled and nails trimmed early.

If you haven’t been trimming your adult cat’s nails regularly, start by taking off only the very tips of her nails and get her used to having her feet handled. 

How Often Should I Trim My Cat’s Nails?

You should trim your cat’s nails about once a month. If she has access to the outdoors, your cat may wear down her nails naturally and require fewer trims.

If your cat tends to scratch up the furniture around the house or do other damage with her claws, consider trimming as frequently as every two weeks. 

What Tools Do I Need?

Most pet supply stores have nail clippers or scissors designed specifically for cats. Guillotine-style nail clippers have safety stops that keep you from cutting too far down the nail and curved blades that make it easier to see where you’re clipping.

Keep some styptic powder or cornstarch on hand to stop any bleeding if you accidentally nick the quick (the part of the nails that contains the blood vessels) of one of your cat’s claws.

What’s the Best Way to Trim My Cat’s Nails?

Be confident and firm but gentle. When your cat is relaxed, hold her gently against your body or on a table or countertop. Try having a family member or friend distract your cat with a toy, treat, or pets.

With your cat in position, start working on the first paw. Very gently pinch the center paw pad with your index finger and thumb (one on top of the paw and the other on the underside where the paw pads are located). This will cause your cat’s nails to extend. Once the claws are extended, gently clip only the tip—the thinner curved or hooked part of the nail. If your cat has clear or light-colored nails, you’ll be able to see the quick and can easily avoid nicking it.

If you do nick the quick, don’t panic. Apply styptic powder or cornstarch and gentle pressure to the nail for 10-30 seconds to stop the bleeding.

When you’ve finished your cat’s manicure, reward her with her favorite treat or some well-deserved play or extra attention.

Yes, You Can Trim a Cat’s Nails at Home

It may take you a few tries to get used to trimming your cat’s nails, but it’s worth the effort. If you still don’t feel confident, ask one of our staff members at Sky Canyon Animal Hospital to demonstrate the technique at your cat’s next wellness appointment. We’ll be glad to help!