Cat Nail Trim




Introduction: Cat Nail Trim

Trimming your cat's nails is a safe an effective alternative to de-clawing. By performing the process yourself, you will no longer need to waste time and money at a veterinarian's office just to get your cat's nails clipped. By following these steps, and with a little practice and a lot of patience, regular nail trimmings will become an easy part of your monthly routine.

Step 1: Step 1: Gather Materials

Before beginning, you'll need to gather the following supplies:

1. Cat or dog nail clippers (Cat clippers shown in image)

2. Styptic Powder

3. Treats

4. Towel or blanket familiar to your cat


a. Do not use nail clippers intended for human use
b. All supplies can be found in any pet store

Step 2: Step 2: Condition Your Cat

Let your cat smell and touch the clippers voluntarily.

Note: Before you attempt to trim your cat's claws, it is extremely helpful allow your cat to become familiar with  the nail clippers. This will help your cat to be less afraid during the process.

Step 3: Step 3: Familiarize Yourself With the Toe Structure

Apply gentle pressure to your cat's paw using your  fingers to extend the claws for trimming.

 Watch the video below to see how applying gentle pressure to the paw will extend the claws and practice on your cat. Trimming a cat's nail is more complicated than a dog because of a cat's retractable claws. You will need to extend your cat's claws out of their sheath in order to trim them.  This process also familiarizes your cat with his or her paws being touched.

Step 4: Step 4: Cutting Angle

Practice placing the clippers at the correct angle across the claw.

Refer to the image for proper placement.

Note: The angle that the claw is trimmed is important for your cat's comfort and safety. The pink part shown in the image is called the "quick." This part of the toe contains nerves and blood supply. It is similar to a vein. If you cut too closely to it, it will cause the cat discomfort and bleeding will occur.

If your cat has some darkly colored nails where the quick is not visible, trim the lighter colored nails first so you become familiar with how much to the nail to remove.

Step 5: Step 5: Reward Your Cat

Give your cat a treat as a reward for his or her patience so far!

By giving your cat a treat at this point, he or she is more likely to remain calm and cooperative during the rest of the actual nail trimming process. You can repeat this step as many times as you want throughout the claw cutting session!

Step 6: Step 6: Time for the Trim!

Place your cat on a blanket or towel that is familiar to the cat and gently restrain him or her.

A towel or blanket with a familiar scent will be comforting to the cat during this process which can be stressful to your cat.

Note: Now is a good time to make sure you have your clippers and styptic powder ready for use.

Step 7: Step 7: Extend Claws

While continuing to restrain your cat, extend his or her claws as you practiced earlier.

Tip: It may be easiest for you to restrain your cat by wrapping one arm around the cat as he or she sits on a table. "Hugging" your cat in this way will prevent him or her from scooting away and escaping by backing up. Using the hand of the same arm you are using to restrain the cat, gently hold the first leg of the paw you will trim first.

Step 8: Step 8: Place Clippers at Safe Angle

Place the clippers around one extended claw at the angle you practiced in step 4, making sure to steer clear of the quick.

Note: The next step involves the removal of the tip of the claw, so be sure you are comfortable with where the clippers are placed.

Step 9: Step 9: Clip the Nail

Firmly and confidently squeeze the handles of the clippers to remove the desired amount of nail. Repeat on remaining claws, giving your cat breaks as needed.

If any bleeding has occurred, continue to step 10.

You have finally completed your first nail trim!

Note: Your cat may jump or squirm if he or she has never had their claws trimmed before. Remain calm and patient. You can sooth and distract your cat from what is going on by talking to him or her.

Step 10: Step 10: Stop Any Bleeding

Firmly and quickly apply styptic powder to any bleeding claws. Do this immediately after cutting the cat's quick rather than waiting until the end of the process. Bleeding should stop within 5 minutes.

Tip: It may be easiest to place the powder in a shallow dish and firmly dip the affected nail into the powder.

Note: Although your cat may uncomfortable, cutting the quick is likely to happen at one point or another even for experienced nail trimmers.

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    5 Discussions


    5 years ago



    5 years ago on Introduction

    I love this instructable thank you so much

    In my house we have first aid kits for dog/cat

    one for the parrot and 2 for us

    Imagine the dog one had NO bacitracin in it


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Just saying


    6 years ago on Step 10

    I've been trimming the claws of our cats for ten years or so. Only a couple of them whine a bit, but they've gotten used to it. I've even done it to cats that don't know me with pretty good success.
    I also use those notched claw scissors. It wasn't too clear in the pics, but they have rounded notches cut into the blades. (Occasionally available at Dollar Tree stores)
    Sometimes I try to line them up so they are in line with the claw instead of across it so it's cutting against the claw flat. I also squeeze very slowly. If you do it to fast, it snaps and can freak the cat out. The most important part of my method is to hold the cat under me, on a rug, carpet or towel so their feet are firmly on a secure surface(as opposed to a slippery wood floor). I kneel over the cat so she is between my legs, with my feet together so she can't back out. She should be firmly restrained, but not too tightly. Then I pick up one claw at a time so she still feels firmly grounded, then trim. A treat afterward helps for future cooperation.
    Usually I don't bother with the rear claws, but if I need to, the best method is to wait until the cat is asleep, quietly pick up the rear paw that is on top and trim before she wakes up completely. Later when she is sleeping on the other side, trim the other paw that is now on top.
    For an unusually antsy cat, I trim while they are eating. They will ignore a lot of abuse if they have their face in a bowl of food! (Helps if you are ambidextrous.)
    Sometimes it might take more than one session to get all the claws.
    As for trim length, I always cut less if in doubt. With most cat claws, the claw is transparent and you can easily avoid the opaque quick. I've been lucky, but suspect that if you ever cut into the quick, they may never let you trim them again!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice job! I especially like how you drew a line where to cut. I have tried several times in the past with awful results! At best, it has hit and miss. You give good directions for avoiding the quick, which I seemed to be unable to do. My 2 cats are tearing up the new carpet now, and we were weighing do-it-yourself vs going the vet route. Your 'ible gives me the courage to try it myself, and $3.75 for a set of clippers is a whole lot cheaper than a vet bill for 8 feet's claws!