How to Trim Cat Nails?

How to Trim Cat Nails

Taking your cat to a groomer to trim your cat nails may be a glamorous en good option, but it can also be expensive. Some people trim their cat’s nails at home. But if you want to trim your cat’s nails, it is, of course, good to know how to trim cat nails.

Be patient and practice a lot. Give your cat space and time to get used to trim the nails. Inspect your cat’s claws, squeeze the top and bottom of one paw to extend the nail. Cut just a little part of the nail (trim only the sharp tip). If your cat finds it okay then, you can trim another nail. Reward your cat with a treat en praise.

In this post, you can read more about how to trim cat nails. You will find a list of items you need, and I give tips for getting your cat to relax while you trim the nails of your cat. So you can turn nail-clipping sessions into enjoyable together time.

Get Your Cat Used to Trim the Nails

The easiest way of getting your cat accustomed to nail trimmings is to start when your cat is young(kitten). If it isn’t a option then you must practice a lot. It will take patience and perseverance to get your cat used to the idea and the process.

Before you are starting to trim your cat’s nails, it is good for your cat to get used to holding the paws. Choose a chair in a quiet room where you can sit with your cat. Pick your cat when it is relaxed, for example, when your cat is sleepy. Take care that you are not sitting near windows and make sure that are no other pets in the room.

Put a towel (a thick towel is better) on your lap and keep your cat there. Talk soothingly and pet your cat while moving your hands to your cat’s paws. When your cat is staying calm and relaxed, then you can hold your cat’s paws longer.

If your cat is used to holding the paws, you can start massaging the paws. Holding the paws and massage them with your fingers. Gently massage your fingers over the bottom and top of the paws you want to trim. Give your cat compliments and treats.

If your cat likes all this and stays calm, you can continue. Finally, you can grab a nail clipper and keep it close to your cat’s nails. If your cat does not like this, stop immediately and try again at another time or another day.

Depending on your cat’s personality, this whole process may be finishing at one time, or it may take months.


I am recommending that you let your cat getting used to sitting in the ‘nail trimming position.’. If your cat is resting comfortably and in the correct position, and this is not a problem for your cat, your cat will continue doing this for longer.

If you’re going to trim your cat nails by yourself, the cat can sit on your lap. With the face away from you, while you hold a paw with one hand, eventually, the clippers with the other.

If you have someone who can help you, that person can hold the cat facing you. Or someone can cradle your cat, while you hold the paw with one hand and with the other hand the nail clipper.

Practice a lot with holding the paws, pressing each claw, and cutting the nails until your cat feels comfortable. Reward it with treats and compliments.


Use the right supplies. Before you are sitting down to trim your cat’s nails, be sure you have the right supplies to do so. If you are well preparing when you are going to trim your cat’s nails, this will save time and stress. When you have all the supplies, you can focus and give all your attention to your cat.

There are a few supplies you will need when you are trimming your cat nails.

You will need:

  • a towel or old blanket (optional)
  • nail clipper
  • styptic powder/pencil (optional)
  • your cat

Styptic powder is good stuff to have if this is the first time that you are trimming your cat’s claws. Or if you have a cat that moves around a lot and make fusses while trimming. The styptic powder will help to stop the bleeding if you trim too far down. You can also use cornstarch; this is a great substitute if you don’t have styptic powder on hand.

You can buy styptic pencils/powder by pharmacies (typically in the shaving section). Styptic pencils cauterize blood vessels when you touched to the nail and help prevent bleeding. If there is a little bleeding on the nail, you can hold the pencil for 1 -2 minutes to the claw. The bleeding should stop.

Nail Clippers

There are different types of nail clippers. The important thing is actually that the clipper is sharp. A sharp clipper allows you to cut straight through the nail. Using blunt clippers is not nice and convenient. It takes extra time, makes trimming more complicated, and is not pleasant for your cat. There are two primary styles of clippers: scissors and guillotine clippers.

With a scissors cutter, you trim your cat’s nails with a scissor movement. These scissors are usually available in small and large sizes. A little nail cutter is useful if you are new to trimming or if you only need to trim the ends of the nails. You can use a larger pair of scissors to trim older, harder nails.

Guillotine clippers have a sliding blade that cuts the nail when you press the handles together. The nail fits into a slot, and the blade slides across to clip the nail. These sharp clippers are good for cutting thick and long nails.

Your cat won’t feel the quick clip if the clipper is sharp. If you suspect that the blades have become dull, throw them away or send/bring them to a store to let the blades sharpened.

How to Trim Cat Nails?

  1. Wait for the right moment. You can’t trim the nails of your cat whenever your cat wants ‘t feel like it. Chose a good moment to trim the nails of your cat. For example, when your cat is relaxing, tired, just coming out of a cat nap or resting on its a favorite place. Also, another good time is when your cat has eaten and then is feeling sleepy and content.
  2. Use the right supplies. Before you are cutting the nails of your cat, it is important to know that you have the right supplies to do so. To trim the nails of your cat, you need a pair of nail clippers designed to clip cat claws and a styptic pencil. A pencil is optional, but I recommend having it with you.
  3. Take your cat and sit down on the edge of a couch, bed, or chair. You can also sit on the floor. Place the cat on your lap, and it’s back towards you. Now you can easily move your arms and holding your cat’s paw in your hand. Massage and press the top and bottom of your cat’s paw until the nail extends.
  4. You are holding the trimmer in one hand and your cat’s paw in the other. Squeeze the top and bottom of one paw to extend the nail. Cut the nails. Be sure you are only trim the sharp tip of one nail. The quick is looks like a small, pinkish triangle inside the nail. You can first cut just the tip of the nails. When you are more comfortable, you can cut closer to the quick, but never cut to the quick. You can make the nails bleeding and hurt your cat.
  5. Give your cat a treat and reward it. You can make the treat unique by giving your cat vacuum-packed chicken or salmon, for example. Some cats also like cat milk or yogurt. Using a special treat after clipping the nails ensures that your cat associates this with trimming the cat nails. So even if your cat does not like trimming the nails, your cat would love the treat afterward, so your cat will also like the nail cutting in the future. Your cat immediately thinks of the tasty treat it will receive after cutting nails.
  6. Check the nails of your cat regularly. Each cat’s nails grow at a different tempo. However, it’s a good rule to trim your cat’s nails somewhere between every two weeks and every month. You can then check the nails, whether they are don’t get too long, split, or break.

Extra Tips: How to Trim Cat Nails

It is better not to trim your cat’s nails right after playing, when your cat is hungry, running around, angry or restless. Your cat will not feel like it anyway and will not give you the time to trim the nails.

Your cat may have a splitting or broken nail, and you want to cut it right away, but don’t! Make a note of it and wait until your cat is relaxed and calm. Otherwise, you may make it worse.

Your cat usually sharpening the nails and keeps them in good condition. However, it is wise to pay attention to the nails. It could just be that your cat is walking around with a broken nail. If you occasionally check the nails, you will see this. Then you can help it out by trimming it into shape.

Try and practice the sitting position with your cat a lot before you actually cut the nails. Give your cat rewards and treats. Make sure you are calm. If you get excited, angry or stressed, your cat will do the same.

Try not to get frustrated. If your cat may protesting, meowing, and try to scratch you, don’t yell at your cat or rush through the process. There is a chance that you end up hurting your cat or yourself, and it scaring you cat away the next time when you want to trim the nails.

If you cut the nail, it is best to cut the blade from bottom to top. This prevents the nail from splitting. A frequently asked question from cat owners is: Can I use a human nail clipper? The answer is: No, you can’t. Do not use nail clippers or scissors made for humans. It splits the cat’s nails.

Trim Cat Nails Without Stress

Create a positive association with nail trimmers. For example, you can place the trimmers next to your cat’s food bowl during meals. Your cat will learn that the nail trimmers are not scary. Also, your cat knows that it is getting food when te nail trimmers are nearby.

Teaching an adult cat to lie on a back is not easy. You can try to find an alternative position where your cat is relaxed. When your cat is lying down on the floor or lying down on a side, reward your cat.

You can trim one nail and give a treat at the same time. If your cat is staying relaxed, then you can trim the second nail while you give a treat at the same time. You can build this up to trimming five nails in one session.

If possible, you can trim the cat nails with two people. Choose a person who trusts and knows your cat. Don’t get a stranger or relative stranger helping you trim the nails of your cat, or there is a chance that your cat will be even more scared. One person can give a treat, and the other one can trimming the nails.

It is strongly discouraging to ”declawing” a cat. It can cause nerve damage as well as emotional distress in a cat.


Some people trim their cat’s nails at home. Trimming your cat’s nails is not difficult. You have to practice it, give it time, and be patient. You do not need much stuff.

If you like this post, then you may want to look at another blog post I have written on this website: Should I Cut (Trim) the Nails of My Cat?

Hopefully, you have learned something about how to trim cat nails. Also, when you know someone who likes to know more about how to trim cat nails? Then feel free to share this post.

By Marleen

Marleen is a truly madly deeply cat lover and founder of That Is for My Cat. She wants to share her knowledge about cats with other people who like to know more about cats.