Why Do I Need to Trim My Cat's Claws?

If you’re working with an adult cat, begin with no clipping at all. Use treats, gentle caresses and loving words to get your cat used to being relaxed and happy in your lap. Slowly introduce touching, then handling, your pet’s paws. Watch for negative body language: If your cat’s tail becomes more active, or his ears flip back, stop until he relaxes again. Force never works with a cat; it’ll damage your relationship and may get you both hurt. If at any point your cat flips out, don’t fight to hold him — just let go.

Once your cat is comfortable letting you handle his paws, move on to pressing gently to expose his nails. Next, introduce the trimmer, but go slowly; touch it to his paw and then put it away. The goal eventually — and how long it takes will depend on the cat — is to get your cat to let you clip just one nail tip. And that’s really all you’re doing with a cat: Blunting the very sharp edge, as opposed to shortening the nail, as we do with dogs.

Give Your Cat Regular Manicures

The nail tips will be sharp again within a couple of weeks if left alone. To make maintenance easy, keep the clipper next to the chair where you’re most likely to sit with the cat in your lap. Check nails frequently and clip as needed. You’ll also be less likely to draw blood if you trim his nails on a regular basis — which means that your cat will be less likely to draw your blood in return. If you do draw blood, however, press a little styptic powder gently against the bleeding with the tip of a cotton swab.

Some cats may eventually allow you to trim all the nails in one session, but if your cat draws the line at one or two a night, let it stand at that. Always end a session in a positive way: Your goal should be a happy, purring cat who no longer has the nails of Freddy Krueger. If you need help with the clipping technique or have any questions or concerns, ask at your cat’s next wellness check. Your veterinary team will be happy to walk you through the steps.

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