Search Add New Question Do you need to trim the cat’s back paw claws? Pippa Elliott, MRCVS Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Pippa Elliott, MRCVS Yes, but possibly less often. The claws on the back paws grow more slowly than those at the front, so always check by eye to see if they look long rather than chop away automatically. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 3 Helpful 11 My cat’s nail peel, with paper thin pieces coming away. The is no bleeding, pain or swelling. Is this normal? Pippa Elliott, MRCVS Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Pippa Elliott, MRCVS Yes, this is normal. A cat’s claws are different from human fingernails or a dog’s claws, in that the nail grows in layers a bit like the skins on an onion. Therefore it’s common for the outer layer to peel away, especially if it’s slightly damaged during scratching. This is an adaptation that leaves the cat with a permanently sharp set of nails for climbing or fighting. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 3 Helpful 8 After I trim my cats nails, should they look kind of stringy or should they look even? It was my first time, so I hope I didn’t hurt my cat. wikiHow Contributor Sometimes if the clippers aren’t super sharp the nail might slightly splinter, but I don’t think it’s harmful to the cat, they’ll naturally slough off any pieces like that as they scratch on things, or groom their paws. I wouldn’t worry about them looking neat or exact, you (and your cat) will get more comfortable with practice, the goal is just to take enough off to make the claws not as sharp, and to not cut the quick of the nail. I’m sure your kitty is fine. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 3 Helpful 33 Aren’t you suppose to pull them out? wikiHow Contributor No, this could hurt the cat more. Use the steps to gently coax the claws out of their sheathe to prevent you getting bitten, and the cat getting injured. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 5 Helpful 42 Can human nail clippers be used? wikiHow Contributor When the cat is very young, human nail clippers can be used. But as the cat grows, you should use nail clippers for cats. These can be found at your local pet store. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 10 My cat doesn’t like her paws touched. She bites me when I try to clip her nails. I get frustrated and give up. What can I do? wikiHow Contributor Check out How to Deactivate Your Cat. This method works for almost all cats and should make clipping her nails much easier. If it doesn’t work, though, then you can get her nails trimmed at the vet; some pet stores also offer services like this. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 5 Helpful 28 What if my cat doesn’t like to be picked up? wikiHow Contributor You could try getting on “their level,” like if they’re napping on the couch, you’d kneel on the floor in front of the couch so that you could easily reach them without having to pick them up to hold them. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 2 Helpful 14 How can I trim my cat’s curled nails? wikiHow Contributor If your cat’s nails are curled, you should clip them as soon as possible! Cats’ nails should never get to a point where they curl up. If you are uncomfortable with doing this on your own, you should visit your veterinarian. They can trim your cat’s nails for you. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 5 Can I use a nail file on my cat’s nails? wikiHow Contributor As long as you file slowly and don’t go to deep into the nail, you should be good. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 4 Helpful 12 What if the cat has been abused before? wikiHow Contributor Cats have their own way of dealing with abuse. If it has grown to trust you, you might be okay on your own. You may need to have a partner gently, but firmly hold the cat. Try doing a few nails at a time. If your cat becomes agitated, stop and try again later. Make the experience as pleasant as possible and reward your cat afterward. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 3 Helpful 10 Show more answers
Use the right tools. Before sitting down to cut your cat’s nails, be sure you have the right equipment to do so. To trim your cat’s nails, you’ll need a pair of nail clippers designed to clip cat claws and a styptic pencil. There are several different styles of nail clippers, all of which largely do the same job. The most important thing is that the clippers are sharp, so they snip straight through the claw. Not only will using dull clippers make the job longer and harder, you may end up squeezing the quick, which can be painful for the cat. There are two primary styles of clipper: scissor and guillotine clippers. Scissor clippers cut a cat’s nails using a scissor motion and usually come in small and large sizes. The small “nippers” tend to be better for those new to clipping nails or if you just need to snip the tips. Larger scissor clippers are suited to cutting older, tougher nails. Guillotine clippers use a sliding blade that cuts the nail when you squeeze the handles together. The claw fits into a slot and the blade slides across to clip the nail. These are strong clippers that are good for cutting long, thick nails (but not overgrown nails–large clippers are better suited to that). If the clippers are sharp the cat won’t feel the quick clip. Clippers don’t stay sharp forever, so discard them (or send them for sharpening) if you suspect the blades have gone dull. Signs of this include having to apply a lot of pressure to cut the nail or the nail being “chewed” by the clippers rather than making a clean cut. Also have a styptic pencil on hand in case you cut the cat’s quick (which is less likely with a cat than a dog, as the cat’s quick is much shorter). Styptic pencils are readily available from pharmacies (typically in the shaving section). They cauterize blood vessels when touched to the nail and help prevent bleeding. If you cut the quick, you can hold the styptic pencil to the claw for 1 – 2 minutes and the bleeding should stop.
Check your cat’s nails regularly. Each cat’s nails grow at a different rate, but it’s a good rule of thumb to trim your cat’s nails somewhere between every two weeks and every month so that its nails don’t get too long, split, or break. Though your cat will be sharpening its claws and keeping them in good shape on its own, keep an eye on their nails nonetheless. Your cat could be walking around with a broken nail, and you can help it out by trimming it into shape. Older cats need special attention because their nails are thicker and can sometimes press around into the pads, cutting into them. Check your older cat’s nails every week and clip the tip off if necessary. This is much easier than letting the nails get overgrown, which can cause them to impact into the pads. If this happens, the cat will need to see a veterinarian because antibiotics may be necessary.
Check your cat’s nails on a regular basis. Every cat’s nails will grow at a different rate, but it’s good practice to trim your cat’s nails somewhere between every two weeks and every month so that its nails don’t get too long, split, or break. Though your cat will likely sharpen its claws and keep them in good shape on its own, keep an eye on its nails nonetheless. Your cat could be walking around with a broken nail, and you can help it out by trimming it into shape. Older cats need special attention because their nails are thicker and can sometimes press around into the pads and cut into them. Check your older cat’s nails every week, and clip the tip off if necessary. This is much easier than letting the nails get overgrown, which can cause them to impact into the pads. If this happens then the cat will need to see a veterinarian because antibiotics may be necessary.
Tips Start with the back claws first. Many cats will try to use their hind legs to get free, but if you’ve already cut them, you won’t get scratched as easily. Many cats can be clipped when they are snoozing next to their human companions. If you can remember to keep the clippers nearby, you may be able to accomplish this very necessary bit of cat care without disturbing the cat’s important rest. If you need to trim your cat’s nails but its putting up a fight, you can wrap the cat in a towel or blanket and extend one arm or leg out at a time. If you must do this, however, it’s probably because you haven’t had time to condition the cat, and it will be harder to do so again once the cat associates nail trimming with trauma. Covering the cat’s eyes or obscuring the cat’s vision of the trimming process may help for some cats. If you are unsure exactly where to cut, ask someone to show you how it’s done. Most vets, animal shelters, and groomers are happy to provide a free demonstration. You can condition your cat as a kitten–even as young as a month old. At that age, small fingernail clippers work well as the claws are tiny. Just clip off the ends. Then be sure to provide a treat. The sooner they associate nail clipping with treats, the better. It helps if paws are wet for long-haired cats. Trimming off less of the nail more frequently is better than taking the chance of cutting too deep. If you cut too deep, it’s going to be harder to trim the nails later on. Don’t forget the dew claws! Most cats have two dewclaws, one on each front leg. These are like a small thumb, located on the side of the front legs, just below the wrist. Because these claws don’t get used much, they tend to overgrow and should be checked monthly in a healthy young cat.