Trimming Cat Claws – How to Trim Cat Nails?

Trimming Cat Claws

One of the best things about cats is that they are their very own groomers, but they do need some help for a few tasks, and one of those is trimming cat claws. People who cut their cat’s nails often find it a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are patient and calm, and take a few of our tips, your kitty will be trimmed and ready to go in no time!

Close-up of a pet owner cutting a Ragdoll cat's claws - Trimming Cat Claws - How to Trim Cat Nails? How to Cut Cat Nails

Trimming Cats’ Claws Is Easier Than You Expect

It’s best to trim your cat’s nails every 2-3 weeks to prevent them from getting overgrown. How often to trim your cat’s claws can really depend on the cat. Like human nails, all claws can grow at different rates depending on genes, diet, and more, so the exact rate can vary, but frequent trims will keep your cat healthy and happy.

Before we begin, it’s important to note the difference between declawing your cat and trimming their nails.

  • Trimming means cutting the top portion of the claw, which is a painless process similar to cutting a person’s nails.
  • Declawing, on the other hand, is removing the claw entirely. A comprehensive article about declawing can be found here.

Even though some cat owners are afraid to trim their cats’ nails at home, the technique is quite easy to learn. With a little patience and enough practice, it can become part of your normal cat care routine.

Find out everything about trimming cat claws in the following sections.

The Importance of Training

The majority of feline behavior experts agree that even the most uncooperative of cats can be trained to enjoy getting their nails clipped. Due to the calm and loving nature of Ragdoll cats, cutting your cat’s nails might be an easier process than you think. Most cats don’t naturally like having their claws trimmed, so it’s important to train your Ragdoll cat as soon as possible.

The majority of feline behavior experts agree, that even the most uncooperative of cats can be trained to enjoy getting their nails clipped.

Having in mind the calm and loving nature of Ragdoll cats, cutting your cat’s nails might be an easier process than you think. Besides, you can always add your personal touch to the guidelines below and tweak them to suit you best.

Most cats don’t like having their claws trimmed. Nail trimming must become a routine for your Ragdoll cats as soon as possible, to ensure the process feels natural for them.

How To Trim Your Cat’s Nails

You may have to take extra care when you’re trimming cat claws, as incorrect trimming can cause them to suffer a significant injury.

It does not matter if you start with the front claws or the back claws. Just remember, that each of the hind paws has 4 claws to cut, and there are 5 claws on each of the front paws (unless your kitty is polydactyl).

Before starting out, you should make sure that you understand:

  • What do you have to do?
  • Find the best tools for trimming the claws.
  • Learn the right nail-trimming technique.

Everything You Need To Know About Cat Nail Trimming Your Cat’s Nails

Trimming your cat’s claws is something you need to approach with care. Before starting out, you should make sure that you understand how to trim your cat’s nails, have the best tools, and know the right nail-trimming technique.

1. Cat Mood Check

As a cat parent, you should always check your cat’s mood before trimming claws. You always want your kitten to be in a calm, good mood when you approach them to trim their nails.

If your kitty was trained to get their nails cut at a young age, they should be fine with what you’re doing. Being familiar with the process will make them more relaxed and confident.

If your cat has not been trained yet, now is the best time to start. Building positive, healthy habits will help you have an enjoyable journey with your furry companion, and before you know it, nail trimming will be a breeze.

2. Paw Training

Regardless of how old your cats are, make sure they are comfortable letting you touch their paws.

Here’re a few things you can do to get your cat used to you touching their claws:

  • Massage their feet frequently
  • Touch each paw pad
  • Speak in a soothing manner
  • Offer treats as positive reinforcement

A lot of cats struggle with nail trimming because it’s unusual for their owner to be touching their paws. Normalizing touching your cat’s paws is one of the best ways to decrease your kitty’s anxiety at trimming time.

How to Get Your Cat Comfortable with the Trimming Process

One of the most common mistakes that cat owners make when trimming cats’ claws is rushing into it.

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Trying to go too quickly can scare your cat, and they can become agitated or even aggressive. You must familiarize your feline friend with the appearance and feel of the nail trimmer prior to trimming them. Cats usually fear unfamiliar objects for good reason, it’s a survival instinct. Seeing cat nail trimmers can trigger an anxiety response.

Before beginning the trim, take your time and allow your cat to:

  • Smell the clippers
  • Play with them
  • Get comfortable being around the tool

These simple actions will make a significant difference in the process of trimming cats’ claws.

If you notice that your cat is most bothered by the sound of nail clippers, you can practice taking your cat into your lap and petting them while you snap a single piece of uncooked spaghetti in half, because the sound is very similar. Every time you snap the spaghetti, give your cat positive words or a tasty treat. The more your cat gets used to getting their paws touched, being around the clippers, and hearing the sound of the clippers, the more at ease they will be when you go to clip their nails.

How to Trim Your Cats Claws

Make sure to reward your cat every single time you trim their nails. Whether you positively reinforce them with kind words and affection or with actual treats, it is important that the reward is part of the reflex created around this routine process.

It’s best to start this routine at an early age. Kittens must have their nails cut periodically. Doing it in a calm, playful way and desensitizing them to the scary elements when they are young can go a long way to make trimming their nails easy when they are adult cats.

Tips To Trim Your Cat’s Nails Like A Pro  

  1. If your cat is curious about the clippers, let her spend some time checking them out.
  2. To make your cat more comfortable with the clipper, try placing some kitty treats nearby. 
  3. Nail clippers could be scary to cats due to their sound, so they avoid them whenever nail trimming is needed. If this happens to you, take your furry friend in your lap while breaking a piece of uncooked spaghetti. This will get them used to the sound.
  4. Massage one of her paws while holding clippers next to them.
  5. Make the spaghetti sound crackly by cutting it into pieces. 
  6. Don’t hesitate to give your cat a treat as a reward and praise her for accepting the loud noises right away.

Ready To Clip ‘Cause It’s Clip Time

Now that your cat is familiar with the practice and you feel ready to get started, it’s finally time to clip.

How To Trim Your Cat’s Claws:

How to Cut Cat Nails - How to Trim Your Cats Claws

If your cat is in need of a trim, this is how we recommend going about it. Before you start cutting your cat’s nails, make sure you sit down comfortably and place your furry friend in a way that you have access to its paws. There are a few possible ways it can sit for this:

  • The first is to place the cat belly-down on a table and place it perpendicularly to you.
  • The second is to sit down and take the cat into your arms, with its back turned to you.

It does not matter if you start with the front or rear claws, but remember, there are 4 claws to cut on each of the hind paws and 5 claws on each of the front paws (unless your kitty is polydactyl).

Cat Nail Trimming: Step By Step Process

  1. Expose the Claw

To start trimming, expose the claw by gently pressing on the cat’s toe with your fingers. Cats have retractable claws, and you usually see just the tip, if anything. To properly trim cat claws, they have to be fully exposed. If you have a longhaired cat, you will also have to pull aside the hair around the nails.

  1. Find the Quick

Once you can see the claws clearly, take a good look to determine where the quick is. This is the part you do not want to cut, because the quick contains blood. Cats have transparent claws, which makes this very easy. The quick is the pink portion in the center, and it is easy to recognize.

  1. Trim the Nails

Avoid cutting right above the quick to prevent cutting it. Make sure your cat doesn’t feel pain after trimming the tip of the nail. If the claws are cut too short, the area may be painful for a short while because the innervated parts of the quick are exposed to physical stimuli. You may be tempted to place the clipper perpendicular to the cat’s quick, but it is much better to keep it at a smaller angle and to stay as far from it as possible. It is much better to trim the claw a bit less and repeat the trimming process sooner than to risk cutting too deep. This is one of the common mistakes that cat owners make when trimming their cat’s claws. On the other hand, if you do cut the quick, do not panic. Use a styptic pencil or apply styptic powder to stop the bleeding, or simply apply pressure to the area. 

  1. Take a Break

Trimming cat claws takes patience (both for you and your cat). When you’re trimming your cat’s nails, they may start complaining after a couple of claws are cut. Don’t push them! Let your cat rest until they are feeling calmer and try again. Just have in mind you might need to have a few trimming sessions to get through all the nails.

  1. Treat Your Kitty!

Use positive reinforcement after you’re done cutting your cat’s nails. After you’re done trimming cat claws, give them a treat. This way, you’ll build a positive association with the process.

Trimming Cat Claws: How Do Ragdoll Owners Cut Their Cats’ Nails?

In the clip below, you will see that I cut my cat’s claws a little differently than suggested above. And that’s perfectly fine. In time you will find your own method that you and your cat are comfortable with. 

I have cut my cat’s claws since they were kittens, so they are used to getting their claws cut.

My sister, who adopted rehomed Ragdoll cats, had to cut their claws differently. This video was taken in January 2016:

And in November 2018, they feel much more comfortable with the process:

What Happens When You Clip Your Cat’s Nails?

The cat nail has a long keratinous part, which keeps growing. This is the part you have to clip.

The other part of the nail, which is closest to the paw, also has bone and muscular tissue inside. It also has a lot of blood vessels.

This interior portion is called “the quick”. It is crucial, that you don’t cut the quick while you’re trimming cat claws. Injuring the quick can lead to heavy bleeding and a lot of pain for your pet.

Zen Clipper Cat Nail Clippers Product Review

Most cats have transparent nails, which means you can see the quick and easily avoid cutting into them.

You may be tempted to place the clipper perpendicular to the cat’s quick, but it is much better to keep it at a smaller angle and to stay as far from it as possible.

It is much better to trim the claw a bit less and repeat the trimming process sooner than to risk cutting too deep. This is one of the common mistakes that cat owners make when trimming their cat’s claws.

On the other hand, if you do cut the quick, do not panic. Use a styptic pencil or apply styptic powder to stop the bleeding, or simply apply pressure to the area.

What tools should you use to trim your cat’s nails?

Best Cat Nail Clippers Review - Zen Clippers - Cat Nail Clippers with Guard Floppycats

There is a wide variety of nail trimmers available on the market, and it is up to you to find the best tools for trimming your cat’s claws. It all depends on your personal taste and what feels right to you and your cat.
The right tool can make the whole process easier for both sides.

What to look for when choosing cat nail clippers?

Best Cat Nail Clippers Review - Zen Clippers

If you want your cat to have the best experience while having its claws clipped, then choosing the right tool is crucial. One important factor to consider before purchasing nail clippers for cats is their ease of use. The more comfortably it fits in your hand and the easier it is to use, the smoother the process will go.

The best nail clippers for cats are made of durable stainless steel and have easy-to-hold handles so that you can trim the claws quickly, even if the cat is squirming. You never want to use dull clippers, which make the process more difficult and painful for you and your cat. Unlike dog nails, cat claws are hollow and remarkably delicate, and they’re vulnerable to breaking and cracking if your clippers aren’t sharp enough. 

A good pair of clippers should be easy to use one-handed, as you will be holding the cat with your other hand during the entire process.

Main Types Of Clippers For Trimming Cat Claws

Ragdoll Cats Review Cat Nail Clippers Purrfect Claw Clipper

Human Nail Clippers

You can easily trim your cat’s claws by using a pair of standard nail clippers. Many cat owners use their own nail clippers to clip their cat’s claws.

In the video below, you can see one of these in use.

While they may not the most comfortable to use, they can get the job done if you can perform the technique properly.

Pliers-Like Nail Clippers

Coastal Pet Safari Professional Dog Nail Trimmer

Similar to pliers in shape, this type of cat nail clipper comes with easy-grip handles. It features two circular blades that cut through the claw at the same time.

They are far easier to use than human nail clippers because you get better control of the cutting angle.

Scissor-Like Nail Clippers

Purrcision Feline Cat Nail Clippers

This type of nail clipper has a scissor-like handle, which gives you a very good grip on the tool because it is secured by the fingers. This improves precision during the trimming process and helps prevent injuries. 

You can see an example in the clip below:

Guillotine-Like Nail Clippers

JW Pet Company Deluxe Nail Trimmer for Cats

This type of nail clipper has only one blade that will cut through the nail, and a rounded part that will keep the nail in place. The main advantage is that you get better control of the nail, and it is easier to avoid cutting into the quick.

Pet Claw Trimmer Review - JW Grip Soft Nail Trimmer

You can see one of these in use in the video below:

Zen Nail Clippers

Zen Clipper Pet Nail Clippers

This innovative product is probably the safest cat nail clipper available on the market. It is a scissor-shaped clipper with a conical blade that cuts through the nail.

The blade is wide enough to cut through the claw, but not the quick. This is the perfect solution for safely trimming your cat’s claws.

Look at the following video to see the Zen Clippers in action:

Safety Precautions

Keep in mind that cats can act unpredictably while you’re trimming their claws. Some of them get agitated and some can even become aggressive.

Following a few simple guidelines should keep you safe while performing this maneuver:

Here are a few safety tips if you have a difficult kitty:

  • Wear long sleeves to avoid scratching on your arms.
  • Do not have your face within the cat’s reach.
  • Have a towel ready in case your cat begins to bite.
  • Always pay attention to your cat’s behavior. If it gets too scared or too agitated, take a break or stop.

Cat’s Nail Clipping – Expert Tips

Here are a few ways to make the process easier:

  • Pretend you’re calm and relaxed, because your nervous or aggressive energy can be passed on to your cat.
  • Use cat relaxant pheromones, like “Feliway Classic,” to relax your cat prior to a clipping session.
  • Use an ironing board instead of your lap to hold your kitty to get access from all sides.  
  • Avoid strenuous methods, for example, scruffing, which involves holding your cat by its scruff or loose neck skin. These are likely to cause your cat a great deal of stress, ruin your trimming session, and cause your cat to lose their trust in you. To avoid this, be sure to hold your feline securely, in a way that makes them and you both feel relaxed and safe. 

Besides the basic method of cutting a cat’s nails that we discussed previously, you can also follow some expert tips to become a true expert and care for your cat’s claws like a certified professional.

1. Trimming Cat Claws: Practice, Until It Turns To A Routine

And in our case, before you start clipping, position your kitty and extend each nail individually.

When your cat became accustomed to this routine, they’ll have no trouble adjusting to trimming their nails in the future. It is not recommended that you use a nail clipper on your cat’s nails right away, this is just a practice session to get your cat used to the sound.   

2. Be Patient and Calm During The Trimming Cat Claws Process, As It Really Does Take Both

The cat has an innate ability to sense when you are stressed or excited about something. They may refuse to be involved in the activity if they feel that you are anxious or frightened about the task at hand.

To avoid this, you might have to fake your concern. Make sure you’re calm and relaxed when you’re planning a trimming cat claws procedure.

3. Cat Pheromones Can Help With Trimming Cat Claws

Cats emit chemical substances called pheromones in order to communicate with their surrounding environment. 

Cat relaxant pheromones, like “Feliway Classic”, can be used to relax your cat prior to a clipping session. They might be helpful for a trouble-free trimming cat claws session.

4. Trimming Cat Claws Training That Works Wonders: Use Treats

Make sure not to give any of the treats away, until you have your cat’s full cooperation. Training your cats for the trimming cat claws process with treats is really a great way to go.

Your cat will be more likely to respond calmly to the nail cutting procedure if you make sure she knows she’s getting a treat after you finish clipping her nails.

5. What To Do When Trimming Cat Claws On Your Lap Is Not Possible?

There are days when your cat might just not be in a mood for nail trimming. If you can, just schedule the procedure for a day or two later.

However, there might be instances, where waiting is not possible (like the visit of your sister and her 3-year-old kid). That’s when an ironing board comes in handy.

You can also get a better view of your cat if you stand up. And you’ll also have access to your kitten from all sides.   

6. Trimming Cat Claws Advice: Gently Clip Your Cat’s Nails To Help Them Stay Calm During The Procedure 

Avoid strenuous methods, for example, scruffing, which involves holding your cat by its scruff or loose neck skin. These are likely to cause your cat a great deal of stress and compromise your whole trimming cat claws process.

A lack of patience will lead to failure, as well as make your cat lose their trust in you.

To avoid this, be sure to hold feline securely, in a way that makes them and you both feel relaxed and safe. 

7 . Avoid Trimming Cat Claws If You See These Signs 

As a cat parent, you’re familiar with your cats’ usual habits and behavior. For you, it’s not a challenge to recognize when your cat needs to be left alone.

If you see that your cat is:

  • Wagging her tail
  • Growling
  • Tensing up
  • Wheezing

Leave them alone, because they are irritated and in a dangerous state. This is not the best time for trimming cat nails. Give your cat a break and let them calm down. Be patient. Trimming cat claws shouldn’t become a stressful or a negative experience.

Trimming Cat Claws: How To Tell If Your Cat Needs Her Nails Cut?

Ideally, it should be done once every 2-3 weeks to prevent claws from getting overgrown.

How often trimming your cat claws should be performed really depends on the cat. Like human nails, all claws can grow at a different rate, influenced by:

  • Genes
  • Diet
  • Age
  • Health condition
  • and more.

Even though some cat owners are afraid of trimming cat claws at home, the technique is quite easy to learn.

With enough practice, it just becomes a part of your usual routine. The process of trimming cat claws should be hassle-free and effortless for both sides.

What Can I Do To Keep My Cat’s Claws Healthy?

It’s already known that cats who live outdoors don’t need their claws clipped. Like a wild cat, your cat would trim its claws while it:

  • Hunts
  • Climbs
  • Scratches.

The same instincts are present in your pet, too.

Indoor cats, however, or those felines who are older, can have longer claws. They’re the ones who need trimming cat claws training.

At home, cats could scratch on:

  • Carpets
  • Furniture
  • Walls with wallpaper
  • Chairs & Tables.

This is the way they’re performing their own trimming cat claws procedure.

If your cats are sharpening their nails on your valuables, think of providing your cats with a specific place to do this by themselves.

This way, you’ll save your furniture and carpets from further destruction. And by providing your felines with a safe place for trimming cat claws, you’ll naturally extend the time between the procedures.

The tips below will help your kitty keep its claws in tip-top shape:

  1. It’s a known fact that cats enjoy scratching. This is an extension of their natural instincts, which means you should provide them with a scratching post. They’ll scratch and gnaw on it, wearing down their claws.
  2. Make sure your cat stays active. You can expect your cat to naturally wear away the tips of their claws as they:
    • Ru,
    • Play
    • Climb.
  3. Keep in touch with your veterinarian. As your cat ages, she may find it more difficult to perform her normal trimming cat claws behaviors.
    If you have tried these tips without success and your cat’s claws continue to grow too long, consult your veterinarian.

What Happens If You Don’t Trim Your Cat’s Claws?

Cats instinctively know that their claws should not grow too long. They will do their best to keep them to an acceptable length.

While this may be quite easy to do outdoors on abrasive surfaces such as tree bark, when indoor cats want to trim and sharpen their claws, they will use whatever seems most appropriate to them.

This could be your sofa, armchair, wallpaper, or other pieces of furniture. This is why it is very important to have a cat scratcher in the house and make sure your cat stays active, so you can encourage the natural trimming cat claws behaviors of your cat. 

Check out the best cat scratching posts on the market today and be sure to not only save your household valuables but also extend the time between trims.

In the vast majority of cases, this is not enough to keep claws at an acceptable length. Regularly trimming cat claws is very important for indoor cats, so their nails don’t become overgrown.

If they’re left untrimmed, claws continue to grow in length and follow a rounded path, leading back to the cat’s pads. If they are too long, they might grow into your cat’s paws, causing pain, inflammation, and other possible health issues.

They also grow in width, getting closer and closer to the claw’s inner margins. If the claws are left untrimmed for a longer period of time, they can cause local injuries to the cat’s pads.

The physical and structural particularities of the cats’ paws area make it highly predisposed to infections. This means that footpad injuries often lead to complications.

 Injuries in this area are painful and when the cat steps on the affected paws, the pain becomes acute. As a result, the cat will develop a limp, to avoid stepping on the paws that hurt. 

If treated in time, this limp can be eliminated completely. However, if the footpad injuries are not properly taken care of and allowed to advance, they could affect additional tissue, or even become a chronic problem. In turn, this could lead to permanent movement issues as well.

Know When to See a Vet?

Trimming a cat’s claws is a simple maneuver that most cat owners can perform themselves.

However, it can become very complicated if the cat is agitated during the process or if the owner is scared to do it.

In this case, it is much better to take the cat to the veterinarian’s office for a trim to avoid possible injuries for the cat and for you.

Some cats can get quite aggressive when having their nails trimmed, but most of the time, the cats are not hostile when taken out of their territory. Having your vet trim your cat’s nails can make the process effortless, quick, and safe. 

Lastly, if while you’re trimming cat claws, you notice any changes in the color or structure of your cat’s claws, it is best to take them to the vet. Safety always comes first.

Trimming Cat Claws - How Do I Cut My Cat's Nails

Did you like learning more about trimming cat claws? Then, you’re going to love these other posts we have for you:

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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2 Comments

  1. Lyn Johnson says:

    I absolutely cannot cut my cat’s nails. She wriggles all over the place. I need to take her to a groomer or the vet to have her nails cut. She also hates the cat carrier and riding in the car, so I wish I could do this at home. I have no problem with grooming her (except for her tummy), but I cannot cut her nails.

  2. FABULOUSLY PAWESOME POST, PICS & VIDEOS, Jenny!!!! Everything you always wanted to know about trimming your kitty’s nails/claws but were afraid to ask…lol. LURVE THIS INFORMATION SOOOO VERY MUCH!!! Great job putting all this together, honey!! Appreciate all the hard work you put into this one!! 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

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