How To Trim Your Cat’s Claws – Including Photos

Last Updated on July 3, 2021 by Julia Wilson


Trimming a cat’s claws is something many cat owners are afraid to do, but it is not hard. Getting your cat used to having his feet and claws handled from an early age can make the whole process easier.  This can be done by gently massaging your cat’s feet, although some cats will always be less than thrilled. In such a case I recommend you only trim a couple of claws per session, or do as I sometimes do and gently trim them when the cat is napping.

The advantage of learning to trim your own cat’s claws is that it avoids unnecessary and stressful trips to the veterinarian, and can save you money.

Before you start

  • Hold the cat’s paw in your hand with your fingers on the underside and your thumb on the top.
  • Gently apply forward pressure to one toe. This causes the claw to come out of the sheath, which makes it more visible.

Notice how in the middle of the claw is pink in the image below (sometimes it’s hard to see), this is the quick and it contains blood and nerves. Be extremely careful NOT to cut the quick as it will cause pain and bleeding. If you do accidentally cut too far, apply a styptic pencil, Silver Nitrate sticks or Potassium of Permanganate to the claw to stop the bleeding. If you don’t have these products, ordinary household flour or cornflour will do.  The claw should stop bleeding in about 5 minutes.

What nail clippers should I use?

There are several kinds of nail clippers for use on cats. I use human nail clippers, but you can also purchase clippers specifically for cat claws from your veterinarian or pet supply shop. Nail clippers should be very sharp as blunt ones will crush the nail, causing it to splinter.

Step one:

Gently squeeze the cat’s paw to push the claw out of the sheath.

Cat claw

Step two

Place the clippers between the claw, aim to trim between the tip of the claw and the quick.

Cat claw

Step three

Clip the claw.

Cat claw

Do I need to trim the back claws?

Some people trim their cat’s back claws, I don’t as I find they tend to wear their back claws down naturally.   I trim their front claws approximately every 3-4 weeks.