Trimming Cat Claws Safely

Trimming cat claws may seem like an impossible task, but it is important to maintaining your cat's health and comfort. Often cats do a good job of maintaining their own nail length by using proper scratching posts, but it's important to develop a routine where your cat allows you to trim his nails in case it's ever necessary.

Choosing the Proper Tools

Don't start trimming your cat's nails until you have the proper tools in place and know how to use them. The best way to lose your cat's trust is hurting him by using the wrong tool or using it ineffectively.

There are many different types of nail trimmers: guillotine-type trimmers, human-style trimmers and scissors that hold the nail in place. Choose the type that you are most comfortable using and stop by a groomer to have them demonstrate proper use of the tool. Regardless which type you choose, make sure the blade is sharp. A dull blade can hurt your cat or cause bleeding.

Desensitizing your Cat

Trimming your cat's nails by grabbing him and just getting started is likely to be stressful for both you and your cat. You may even get hurt if your cat is too scared.

Instead, desensitize your cat to the process by starting slowly and rewarding with your cat's favorite food or treats. Start by simply holding your cat's foot and then giving him a treat. Build up to holding onto the nail and then holding onto it and touching it with the clippers. If your cat gets stressed at any stage, move slowly and increase the reward schedule.

Practicing handling at each mealtime so that he associates handling with dinner can also be a good strategy.

Trimming the Nails

Depending on your cat's level of comfort, you can have him stand or you can cradle him in your arms or on your lap while trimming his nails. He may feel more comfortable with a calm restrain or simply standing on the ground.

Take the paw in your hand, curl your fingers into a fist and press your thumb on the joint above the claws. When the claw extends, quickly and firmly clip off only the sharp tip of the nail. Don't be concerned with trimming off a long length. Just the very edge is all that's required. Do this with confidence so it doesn't take several tries, which will be stressful for you and your cat.

Reward with a treat after each nail is clipped.

If you do cause your cat's nail to bleed, put light pressure on it or dip it is styptic powder to reduce bleeding. End the session and check on him occasionally to make sure the bleeding stops.

If you don't get all your cat's nails in one session, don't worry. Go at your cat's pace. If he starts to get stressed, stop and try again later.

Trimming your cat's nails can be stressful since cats aren't often as accustomed to accepting touch as dogs. However, if you move slowly and reward, you will continue to improve the experience for you and your cat.