Should I Cut (Trim) the Nails of My Cat?

nails of my cat

Cats use their claws and nails for hunting and climbing trees. The nails of an outdoor cat’s usually wearing out on their own. But an indoor cat is less likely to wear out its nails. For most cat owners cutting cat’s nails is something they’ve never done. However, some people cut (trim) the nails of their cats.

It is usually not necessary to cut your cat’s nails, but you can cut (trim) the nails of a cat. Cats keep their nails short by scratching on a scratching post and trees. Does your cat come outside regularly? Then the nails usually remain the right length, and cutting is often not necessary. If you have an indoor or older cat, the nails can be too long. Then you should cut (trim) the nails of your cat.

In this post you can read more about should I cut (trim) the nails of my cat? Also I explain more about a cat claw, how often you should cut the nails of your cat and how to cut the nails of your cat.

Should I Cut (Trim) the Nails of My Cat?

It is not necessary to cut the nails of your cat, but it depends on your cat’s lifestyle, indoor or outdoor, and how long the nails of your cat are.

Cats using their nails for many different activities as climbing, scratching, and marking territory. Cats also need their nails to protect themselves, mainly if they are outdoor cats. There are some instances where cutting your cat’s nails may be necessary.

Indoor cats may like it to use a scratching post or scratching on your furniture. So you can put a good scratching post in the house to be sure the nails do not get too long, and you prevent your cat and yourself from using the furniture for this.

Indoor cats do not scratch on trees to shorten their nails, and their nails may become very long. Because the cat’s nails are retractable, they are protected when the cat is walking and can become very sharp unless they are regularly cutting.

Arthritic cats have a lower activity; they usually don’t get enough exercise. The nails of aging/geriatric cats are often overgrown, brittle, and thick and will need to be cutting more often.

If you don’t cut your cat’s nails if they are too long, the nails can grow in and eventually cause worse problems, such as painful sores and infections. Also, check the nails regularly with active outdoor cats. Don’t forget to check the dewclaws of the front legs. Especially the “thumb,” this nail is less in contact with the ground and can quickly become too long.

Cut the nails of a kitten

Cutting your kitten’s nails is an important part of cat grooming. When kittens grow, they discover al their fighting tools, so also their nails.

When your kitten learns early that nail trimming can be a positive and rewarding experience, your kitten will find it okay later on its life. It’s also important to give your kitten scratching posts or platforms so that it learns to sharpen the nails there, rather than on your furniture.

For the first time to train your kitten cutting the nails, you are focussing on making your kitten comfortable.

Start by holding the paw and touching the toes and nails while you talk to your kitten. It may seem like a slow start, but the goal is to familiarize your kitten with having the paws handled. When you are right coming with clippers, it could frighten your kitten or make it feel threatened.

It is important to reward your kitten after the training. Your kitten will then remember the positive.

How Often Should You Cut the Nails of Your Cat?

The frequency of cut the nails of your cat depends on the cat and your situation. If you have a kitten, you can give it a trim (or at least check for trimming) frequently so that your kitten is getting used to the process.

On average, the nails need to cut two to three times a year. Check your cat’s nails regularly. In some cats, it is necessary to cut the nails much more often; the nails must cut every ten days to 2 weeks so that they do not get too long. Some people cut the nails of their cat every 4 to 6 weeks, but is also depending on how much time the cat is playing outside.

When Should You Cut Your Cat’s Nails?

It doesn’t need an explanation that your cat’s nails should cut if they are too long, and your cat is having problems with it.

In many cases, this is visible and can see from the behavior that the cat shows. For example, if the nails are often sticking to fabric (rugs, furniture, etc.), it is advisable to check the nail length and trim if necessary.

Cut the nails when:

  • your cat is sticking with the nails to fabric such as rugs and furniture
  • having trouble with getting its nail off when it scratches something
  • you hear your cat’s nails ticking on the floor while your cat is walking
  • the nails are clearly too long, and there is a chance that they will grow in (the nails curl and grow back into the skin)

What is a Cat Nail?

A cat’s claws are different from human’s nails. Cats’ claws come out of the front of their toes and getting used as tools to catch and hold prey and to climb. Cats have nails on each paw. The front paws differ from the rear paws. Cats usually have five nails on each of their front paws and four on each of their rear paws.

In a cat’s paw, each nail directly supplies with blood flow. When the nail grows, the blood supply begins to get cut off. When the outside layer has no longer blood flowing to it, it falls off. Losing the outside layer will happen once every three months for each nail. You will find claw sheaths in scratching posts, furniture, or lying around on the floor.

The main component of the nails is keratin. Because the nails of a cat are making of keratin, they grow in layers. If you ever cut your nail too short, you will see blood. If you cut the nails of your cat to short then it is also the case with cat nails, you will see blood. At the base of the keratin, layers are nerves and blood flow. This allows for fast repair and growth.

Cats, known as polydactyl, are sometimes having more nails. So it is important to check the cats paw good, maybe your cat has more nails. The inside, shorter claws on the front paws that look like human thumbs are called the dewclaws, and they are useful to holding prey.

How to Cut the Nails of My Cat?

If you have to cut your cat’s nails, it is good to know how to do it. Cutting your cat’s nails is not difficult, but your cat should be used to it.

Go to a quiet room and sit there in a chair. Let the cat sit on your lap. It is best to get your cat when your cat is relaxed, for example, when it is tired or after a meal. Do not sit nearby a window as this can cause your cat is looking outside and become distracted. Also, make sure that there are no other pets in the room.

Take carefully one of your cat’s paws between your fingers and massage for no longer than three seconds. Is your cat pulling the paw away? Don’t squeeze; just follow the gesture, keeping soft contact.

When your cat is still again, give a little press on the paw, so the nail extends out. Then release the paw and give your cat immediately a treat. Do this every other day with a different nail until you’ve gotten to know all ten.

It is important for your cat to be at ease with the sound of the clippers before you attempt to trim the nails.

By the cat’s nail, the pink part is where the blood and nerves are. Don’t cut this sensitive area. You must only cut the white part of the nail. It is better to be careful than to risk cutting this sensitive area.

If you accidentally cut into the sensitive area of the nail and it starts to bleed, there are products you can use to stop it. It is wise to keep this with you if you are going to cut your cat’s nails.

Place your cat on your lap with its face away from you. Take one of the paws in your hand, massage, and press the paw until the nail extends. You are checking the nails to see how much you must cut. Now you must cut the sharp top of one nail. Release your cat’s nail and give it a treat quickly.

If your cat didn’t notice it, then you can clip another nail. But it is important to cut no more than two claws in one sitting and only when your cat is feeling comfortable. Reward your cat with a special treat afterward. It could be during the first few sessions that you can only cut the nails of one paw.

You must also cut the nails of the back paw but possibly less often. The nails on the back paws grow more slowly than the nails at the front. It is important to check by eye to see if they look long rather than cut away automatically.

There are, of course, different ways to trim your cat’s nails. I mean, the way you hold your cat and deal with the situation. One cat does not find it scary and stays on your lap while another cat may be scared and needs to be holding properly. I will explain this in more detail in one of my subsequent posts.

You can ask your vet when your cat refuses/gets angry if you want to cut the nails.

Tips What Not to Do

  • There is an operation where they can amputating the end of a cat’s toes, but this is highly discouraged by the ASPCA. So don’t do that! Instead, cut regularly the nails of your cat, give your cat scratching posts. You can ask your veterinarian about soft plastic covers for your cat’s claws.
  • Don’t try to cut all of your cat’s nails at one time.
  • Don’t cut the nails of your cat when it is upset or agitating. Don’t rush because you can’t do it fast.
  • Does your cat resist or not want to cooperate? Don’t raise your voice or punish your cat.
  • Don’t use the wrong tools. Be sure you have the right equipment like a pair of nail clippers designed to clip cat nails and a styptic pencil.


You can cut the nails of your cat. But it depends on if your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat. If your cat is an indoor cat, then the nails are growing faster. An outdoor cat wears its nails outside, for example, by scratching trees. Want to make sure you need to trim your cat’s nails? Check the nail length and trim if necessary.

If you like this post, then you may want to look at this post Why Do Cats Knead Things With Their Paws?

Hopefully, you have learned something about cut the nails of a cat. Also, when you know someone who likes to know more about, should I cut the nails of my cat? Then feel free to share this post. Do you cut your cat’s nails? And if so, how often do you do that?

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.