How to cut your cat's claws

Cutting your cat's claws is necessary to maintain the health of your cat. Overgrown claws snag on fabric and injure the paws. They also can cut your cat when he or she is trying to groom themselves. Indoor cats can't wear their claws down as quickly as outdoor cats can. The goal is to do the claw clipping as quickly as possible, unless your cat has no problems with it and you can take your time.

Wait until your cat is relaxed and sleepy, but not actually sleeping deeply. Waking your cat from a sound sleep can really spook him or her.

Bring any of the items listed in the "Things You'll Need" list to the cat, not the other way around.

Decide which of you will hold the cat and which will trim the claws if you have a helper. If not, plan in your mind how you are going to pick the cat up and clip the claws.

Wrap the front or back half of the cat's body in an old towel if your cat protests when the paws are touched. If the cat is OK with the procedure, then skip the towel.

Bring the cat in your lap and curl your body over the cat as close to the paw as you dare. You can use your forearms to gently pin the cat into your chest while leaving your hands free.

Gently squeeze the cat's paw with your least dominant hand so the claw is extended. Chances are that you can skip this step if your cat is mad and is already extending the claws. In a good light, you can see the dark quick inside of a light coloured claw. If you can't see the quick, then only clip the very tip of the claw. With your dominant hand, place the claw tip in the opening of the guillotine-style pet claw clippers and squeeze quickly and firmly.

Use stypic powder on your cat if the quick is clipped and bleeds.

Let your cat go. Praise the cat and give him treats.


If worse comes to worse, go to the vet or to a dog groomer to get the claws clipped. If you have to wrap your cat in a towel, only do two claws one day and the other two the next. Try to be as casual and calm as possible. Cats pick up on your emotions. If you're terrified of clipping your cat's claws, your cat will terrified, too.


Don't use nail clippers for people. They will not be strong enough to work and will hurt your cat. Don't hang on to or squeeze your cat's toes in order to control the cat. Try to handle the toes as little as possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Pet claw clippers
  • Cat's favourite treat
  • Light source
  • Human helper (optional but recommended)
  • Towel (if necessary)
  • Styptic powder (if necessary)
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About the Author

Rena Sherwood is a writer and Peter Gabriel fan who has lived in America and England. She has studied animals most of her life through direct observation and maintaining a personal library about pets. She has earned an associate degree in liberal arts from Delaware County Community College and a bachelor's degree in English from Millersville University.