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How to trim cat nails? Step-by-step guide for safe trimming

A step-by-step detailed guide on how to trim cat nails

Ideally, cats don’t like to get their nails trimmed. Are you wondering how to trim cat nails? If you are a new cat owner, don’t worry. We got your concern addressed in this article. 

how to trim cat nails

You might also wonder why must you trim a cat’s nails and not leave them as such. Well, trimming of cat’s nails is necessary to prevent the following:

  1. Overgrowing of cat’s nails which might curve and hurt your cat’s paws
  2. Scratches and damage to your furniture and home items
  3. When you lift your cat or play with your cat, claws can scratch and infect you.
  4. While moving around the house, your cat can get stuck to the carpet.

So, what is the step-by-step procedure to trim a cat’s nails? How to train your cat to stay calm while trimming? Please continue reading and your queries will get cleared as you reach the article’s end.

Step-by-step Procedure on How to Trim Cat Nails

Have all the essential things with you

Now you are going to get ready to clip your cat’s nail. Gather all necessary items such as clippers, styptic powder, a towel, and cat treats.

There are a lot of clippers available in the market and get one. Take styptic powder or cornstarch which helps to arrest bleeding and numb pain if you accidentally cut your cat’s blood vessels.

The towel is used to hold the cat in a resting position. Get your cat treats to reward your cat if she cooperates to trim nails.

Hold your kitty in a comfortable position

Once you have the necessary things, hold your kitty in a position that is comfortable for you as well as your kitty. Either hold her gently on your lap or rest her on your chest. You can also wrap her in a towel which will prevent your cat’s jerks or movements while trimming the nail.

Use your elbow to gently hold your cat in position. If you have a maid, take her help to hold your cat and this gives you better control while cutting the cat’s nails.

how to trim cat nails

Gentle press and isolate the nail to trim

Use your thumb and forefinger of your hand and gently press the paw pad and top of the kitty’s toe. The retractable claw of your cat will slowly extend outward. 

While doing it for the first time, your kitty may not cooperate. If she doesn’t feel good or comfortable, stop squeezing and let her go. Try again when she is asleep or when she is in a calm mood.

how to trim cat nails

Trim the nail gradually

Once you extend the cat’s nail, using your dominant hand, gently clip the tip of the nail, and don’t cut the big part. Cats have blood vessels and veins known as quick which starts from the middle of the nail. It is pink in color.

So, start at the tip and cut small bits of the nail at 45 degrees so that cat feels comfortable while resting her toe on the ground. While you notice the pink or dark part of the nail while trimming, stop trimming because it indicates that quick is closer to that part.

how to trim cat nails

What if I cut the quick accidentally?

Mistakes happen to everyone. So, don’t panic if you accidentally cut the pink part and made your cat bleed. Quickly apply styptic powder or cornstarch to the cut part. They stop bleeding at once. Styptic powder is preferred as they have the ability to numb the pain as well. Stop your trimming activity and you can do it some other day when your cat is back in the mood.

Reward your cat

If you have succeeded in trimming the nail and the cat has cooperated, then give a treat to your cat. This will reinforce a positive association with trimming. Repeat it whenever your trim the cat’s nails so that she likes the activity.

how to trim cat nails

Repeat for other nails

Kudos if you have trimmed a nail and your cat is still calm and cooperative. Again repeat the procedure of squeezing the cat’s nail and trimming it as mentioned above till your complete all nails.

If your cat is aggressive or doesn’t want to continue, stop trimming activity. Let her play and resume activity when she is resting or cooperative. 

4 Tips to Train your Cat to Co-operate while Trimming

Don’t trim the first few times but practice

Since cats have retractable claws unlike dogs, hold your cat in a comfortable position and try holding their paw and toe with your thumb and forefinger and slowly try extending their nail. Hold the forefinger and thumb at the joint of the claw and press gently. Your kitty might not like it at first few times. 

Don’t force it if your kitty gets stressed. Allow it to play for some time and then try again after a few hours or whenever your cat gets into a quiet mood. When you practice it a few times without cutting, your cat gets familiar with the activity.

Introduce clippers

Once the cat feels comfortable with retracting claws, introduce clippers or grinders gradually. Let it get exposed to the sound a few times and the feel of it.

Carrot approach

When your feline obeys and feels comfortable while trimming or being close with clippers, give a small treat after clipping one of its nails or after an acceptable behavior. This builds a reward mechanism and the cat will be more inclined to nail trimming.

Watch out for signals

During practice or real trimming of a cat’s nails, when it gets stressed or the cat behaves weirdly with aggression, leave your practice or trimming for the next day. Play with your cat and make her feel comfortable. Her mood is very important for trimming successfully.


Once you have followed the above procedure and trimmed your cat’s nails for the first time, it only gets quicker and easier the next time. You can avoid spending money on professional groomers and you can do it like a pro! What are you waiting for? 

If you like to read more, check out 11 tricks to make your cat drink water.



Girish is a cat enthusiast and lover of cats. He firmly believes to create an impact by bringing the right information about cats to their owners

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