Safe Clipping of Cat Toe Nails

Clipping cat toe nails can be a real hassle, since most cats don't like to submit to this process. But clipping your cat's toe nails is an important part of cat grooming, especially when you want to keep your furniture from getting damaged by cat scratches. Here's how you can make clipping cat toe nails safe and easy.

1) Get the Right Equipment

You can buy cat toe nail clippers from any pet store or veterinary clinic. Human nail clippers can be used as well, but may be more difficult to handle. There are two types you can buy; one looks like a pair of scissors and the other functions something like a guillotine. Both are designed to be held in the hand and are operated by squeezing.

2) Know How to Use the Equipment

If you're using human nail clippers, then you'll hold them the same way you do when you use them on yourself. Cat toe nail clippers should be held in the fist and squeezed like garden shears. Many people cut cat toe nails on the diagonal; it's a better idea to make a straight, clean cut, as this reduces splitting and fraying.

3) Hold Your Cat Properly

You'll want to hold your cat on your lap. Make sure he's comfortable. Place your forearms across his chest and hind end to restrain him while you're cutting his nails. Hold the clippers in whichever hand feels most comfortable.

4) Gently Squeeze the Paws

Cats have retractable claws. This means that, with the hand not holding the clippers, you'll need to gently squeeze the pad of your cat's paws to make the toe nails appear.

5) Don't Cut Too Deep

Most cats have translucent or light-colored claws, making it easy to see the quick, which will be pink. Make the cut at least 2 mm away from the quick. If you cut into the quick, your cat's claw will bleed and he'll be in pain. He could even run a risk of infection.

6) Trim Cat Toe Nails Properly

You should place the clipper perpendicular to the claw, cutting from top to bottom. If you place the clipper parallel to the nail, cutting from side to side, you could crush the nail, leading to splintering and fraying. Your cat's toe nails should only need one cut apiece.

Keep the trimmer sharp for a clean cut. You can use a nail file to trim off any rough edges.

When using a guillotine-type clipper to trim cat toe nails, make sure the cutting blade faces you, not your cat. The screws on the trimmer should face the cat. If you turn this type of trimmer so that the blade faces your cat, you'll be cutting closer to the quick than you realize, and could cause your cat harm.

Place your cat's toe nail through the hole in the trimmer and cut in the same fashion, from top to bottom, not from side to side. The handles can point toward the floor or toward the ceiling, whichever is more comfortable for you.

Don't forget to trim the dew claw, which is located on the inner side of each foot.