Most cat owners are afraid of trimming their cats nails. You don’t need to be. It’s a very straight forward and easy process if your kitty will let you do it.
Why do cats need their nails trimmed?
Cat nails grow constantly just like ours do. Some cats wear them down from scratching on scratching boards or posts, or sometimes your furniture, but most don’t. If left to grow they can curl around and grow into the paw pad. It’s very painful to remove a claw from the pad and cats don’t appreciate it much.
How often do my cats nails need to be trimmed?
How often a trim is needed depends on the cat. Usually about once every month or two is sufficient.
What supplies do I need to trim my cat’s nails at home?
The only thing you need to trim your cat’s nails at home is a good pair of nail trimmers. In the picture below are three types. The solid stainless steel pair are for cats or tiny puppies, the orange handled pair are used for very large or giant breed dogs with very thick nails, the red handled pair are the go to nail trimmers around here. We use them on everyone from cats and tiny puppies to 100 pound dogs. There are also guillotine type clippers. They all do the same job, you can use whatever is easier for you. Some people like to have some kwik stop (styptic powder) handy as well in case a nail is trimmed too close and bleeds a little. It’s not as easy to trim a cat’s nails too close like it is with dogs. In 12 years of trimming cat nails I don’t remember ever getting one too close. If you don’t have any styptic powder at home you can also use cornstarch or flour.
Anatomy of a Cat Nail
The part of a cat’s toenail that you see is the hard outer coating similar to our nails. Inside the outer nail is the nerve and blood vessel called the quick. If you cut the quick it will bleed and can be painful. How much it bleeds and how painful it is depends on how deep into the quick it was cut. If it was barely cut there may not be more than a tiny spot of blood.
Time to Trim
Some people like to put the cat up on a table or counter top, even laying in your lap is fine if that’s what works for you and your kitty.
Hold the trimmers in your dominant hand and hold the cat’s paw in the other. You’ll need a firm grip to maintain control of the paw. Place one finger on top of the paw and one on the pad of the nail you’re wanting to cut. When you press those two fingers together the nail will come out from the paw. Line up your clippers along the point where the nail starts to taper and come to a point, just below the quick. If you take a moment to look closely at the nail you will see the quick and the natural place below it to cut. Use one swift motion to cut, slowly squeezing on the nail will be irritating for the cat and could cause the nail to split. If you’re uncomfortable making the cut you can air on the side of caution, remember, you can always cut more off.
If the nail bleeds a little it isn’t the end of the world. If you have some styptic powder press a little into the nail and hold it for a second or two, you can also use cornstarch or flour.
After a couple trims it gets much easier. Hopefully your cat will be used to it and so will you. You’ll quickly learn exactly what you need to do and the more confident you are the faster it will go.
What if it isn’t working?
Sometimes even with your best efforts it just isn’t going to happen. If it’s not working you can call us and we’ll be glad to show you how to do it or do it for you. A lot of times a cat that acts crazy at home will be good as gold for us, if not, we’ll still get it done. We have some tricks up our sleeve. An extra person to talk sweetly and distract a kitty is all that’s needed sometimes. If you need help with a nail trim let us know, we’re happy to help.