Tips for Stress-Free Cat Nail Trimming

| Aimee Ellis

Cat nail trimming at home doesn't have to be scary (for you or your cat). Learn tips on how to get your cat comfortable with cat nail clipping.


Trimming your cat’s nails can seem like a daunting task and one many pet owners find unnecessary, especially if they own a scratching post. However, it’s good to practice regular trimming, since cat nails can snag and get caught in soft surfaces, like bedding and blankets.

Also, as your cat ages, they’ll become less active. If their nails aren’t cut regularly, they can end up growing in a curve right into their footpads, causing pain or even infection.

But don’t worry! We have some tips to keep you both calm, and to make this part of your regular cat-care routine.

How to Prep Your Cat for Nail Trimming

It’s best to get your cat prepared as a kitten, but if you adopted them at an older age, that’s OK too. Have them sit on your lap, and gently press their footpad to extend a claw. Give a treat afterwards. Do one claw at a time, slow and steady. If your cat gets upset, don’t push it. You want to make sure they think of nail trimming as a happy time, so patience and treating are key.

When extending a claw, be sure to find the quick of the nail, which you need to avoid while trimming—this is a very sensitive part of the nail that contains blood vessels and nerve endings.

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Let Your Cat Get Used to the Clippers

Cats are creatures of habit, so if you are coming in hot with a new item they’ve never seen before, they’re likely to get scared. Show them the clippers before even attempting to cut their nails, let them take a sniff, and leave them out where they can see them.

Practice Swaddling

You’ve most likely seen cats wrapped up like a “purrito” all over the internet, and swaddling them can help keep them calm and contained when you’re clipping. Gently wrap the kitty up in a blanket or towel and see how they react. Don’t force them to stay and give a treat for good behavior!

Know Your Cat’s Limits

If your kitty reacts poorly when you touch their paws or swaddle them, it’s probably not a good idea to trim their claws yourself. Vets and groomers are trained and can always help out to ensure their claws are trimmed regularly.

How to Trim Cat Claws in 5 Easy Steps

Step 1: Get Prepped 

Gather all your supplies, including treats. Make sure you’re in a well-lit room and your cat is comfortable and relaxed.

Step 2: Calm Your Cat

Swaddle your cat in your lap. Take a paw and gently squeeze one claw out.

Step 3: Find the Quick

Make sure you can see the quick and place the clipper a few millimeters away.

Step 4: Take Your Time

Clip the claw in a smooth motion from top to bottom.

Step 5: Give Praise

Praise your cat! What a good job! Give a treat and kisses. Try again with another claw. If kitty isn’t ready for the next step, it may take a few days to get all their nails trimmed. The important part is to keep this as stress-free as possible. Your cat will get better at it as time goes on and they know they’re safe (and treats are involved).

Nail trimming isn’t the only vital part of cat care. Having pet insurance can help you prepare for the unexpected, allowing you to focus more on your cat’s health and less on costly veterinary bills. Click here for a quote from AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company) today!

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Every Dog and Cat Deserves the Pet Insurance of Champions

Get prize-winning care for your pets.

Aimee Ellis

Aimee is a New Jersey native currently living in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and crew of four cats. She has an English degree and when she isn't writing for AKC Pet Insurance, you can find her drinking seltzer, painting, watching reality TV shows, and trying to wrangle her cats into sweaters.


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