How Do I Trim My Cat’s Nails?

A photo of cat claws.

Those little murder mittens make for aww-inspiring Instagram posts, but they can quickly turn an innocent biscuit-making sesh into grimace-inducing torture. You power through putting your cat in a carrier for her wellness visits, but doing that every few weeks for nail trims sounds like a no-go. Can you trim your cat’s nails at home? With patience and a solid strategy, the answer is yes!

Our team at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates understands that cats don’t always make the best travel companions, so we’ve compiled our tips on how to trim cat nails at home.

Why Do Cat’s Nails Need Trimmed?

Cats in the wild find plenty of ways to wear down their nails, but domestic house cats require cat grooming at home to not only protect your lap, but also to protect her from injury. Long nails can sink into soft furnishings and rugs and get caught—causing injury to your cat when she tries to jerk free. Severely overgrown nails can also curl into her precious paw pads and cause her pain. 

Cat Nail Trimming Strategies

Your cat’s nails could need trimming as often as every two to three weeks. You’ll know it’s time when her nails “click” across the floor. Here’s a step-by-step approach to get you started!

Start Young

The perfect time to acclimate your cat to “peticures” is when she’s a kitten, but you can use this same strategy on an older feline. The first step is to lovingly cuddle your cat and play with her paws on a routine basis. See what position she finds most comfortable. Try gently squeezing different toes to make the nails visible. Reward her with a special treat or extra praise and smooches.

Proceed Slowly

Once your cat seems calm with having her paws handled, get ready for her first nail trimming! Choose a quiet time and have your cat nail clipper handy. Hold her paw in a natural position and gently squeeze a toe to extend the nail. Trim only the tip of the nail at a 45-degree angle, being cautious to avoid the quick (the dark part of the nail). Try just one or two nails and take a break if she seems upset. 

You’ve Got This!

Trim a couple more nails in a day or two. In time, you’ll be able to trim more nails in each sitting. Always end cat grooming at home sessions on a positive note with treats, cuddles, and praise! 

Other Tips

Stay calm and patient throughout the grooming session. Ease your cat’s stress by playing soft music or using a Feliway diffuser. With practice, grooming will become a bonding experience.

Ask for Help

We’re always happy to share more tips on how to trim cat nails. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule a visit.