While is may not be your cat’s favorite activity — or yours, for that matter — clipping their nails is important for your cat’s overall health. Although it may seem daunting, there are some tips to make it a bit easier, and we’re here to help.
Veterinarians recommend clipping your cat’s nails every 10-14 days to maintain optimal health, but their activity level will determine the frequency at which they’re broken down. Regardless, frequent nail trims add up, so if you want to do it yourself, here are some easy tips.
Before you start, make sure that you have some sharp cat nail clippers; a dull blade will make it harder to cut through the nail and could result in a nail splitting or bleeding. As a safety precaution, you may want to keep some styptic powder or gel on hand to stop any bleeding if necessary. We also recommend having a towel or blanket on your lap to partially wrap the cat in for stability, and some of their favorite treats for reinforcement.
It’s important to make each nail trimming experience as positive as possible for the cat so that they learn over time that it isn’t so bad. This can mean doing the nail trim in a quiet, safe space in your house that you know they love, and giving them plenty of treats after each step you take in the process.
Remember that cat nails are sensitive – the “quick” is the pink area that’s filled with blood vessels and will hurt if cut into, just as the pink portion of a human’s nail. You never want to cut far enough that you hit the quick, so it’s important to go slow and have a steady hand when doing a trim.
Once you find a comfy spot in the house, put the cat on your lap and touch their paws. Most cats don’t love having their paws touched, so before you jump right in to taking a sharp blade to their nails, get their paws used to being touched at all. Cats should be in a pretty relaxed state before you start trimming their nails so that they don’t pull away and make you slip the blade too far.
Once the cat seems relaxed, take the nail clippers and place it next to their paws so they get used to the idea of them being near them. the sound of the clippers cutting through a nail may scare them, so you may want to prepare them for the sound as well, by cutting one of your own nails, or, as vets recommend, cutting a piece of uncooked spaghetti. Anything that you can do to prepare the cat for each step before it actually happens will help them stay as calm as possible.
Once your cat is on your lap, facing away from you, gently press the pad of one of their front toes to extend the nail. Swiftly clip the sharp translucent tip of the nail and then release the paw – you don’t need to trim much. Follow this step with a treat and praise, and then continue to the next ones.
If your cat fights you at any time, it’s best for their safety, and for the sake of getting the job done, to stop the process and try again later. Most cats wont want to sit still for more than a few minutes, even if they aren’t afraid of the trim itself, but the more you do it, the more comfortable with the process they’ll become.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local pet store if you have questions on this or any pet related topic.