How Do I Clip My Cat or Kitten's Nails?

Stephanie Dube Dwilson

You might feel a little nervous if you need to clip your cat's nails. How can you cut your kitten's claws without a lot of hissing and scratching? Is there a way to stop your cat from feeling nervous? Some cats might need to be gently restrained for a nail-clipping session, but others will be more relaxed than you might expect. It's all about how you approach your kitty, the vibes you send, the environment, and everything that leads up to that moment.

Help Your Kitten Get Used to Having His Paws Handled

If you can, make things easier for your cat by helping him get used to having his paws handled as a kitten. Cats are usually a little skittish about having their paws touched, so expect some hesitation at first. Play with your kitten a lot, touch his paws and hold them gently. Lightly press and hold his paws for a few seconds and then let them go. Give him treats to help build positive associations with having his paws held. Let him get used to the feeling before you graduate to gently clipping his claws with a nail clipper.

If you start when your cat is young, it will be much easier to continue the practice once he's an adult. Of course, you can also go through these steps when your cat's older, but the process might take longer.

Provide Lots of Cat Scratchers & Calming Diffusers

Providing plenty of cat scratchers can cut down on the number of times you need to trim your cat's claws. Try vertical and horizontal scratchers to see which one your cat likes best, and test different materials too. She may keep her claws fairly well maintained if she uses them a lot.

A calm and happy cat will be less skittish and more able to control her nerves during a nail-clipping session. That's why it's important to pay attention to your cat's e-meow-tional health. Calming diffusers can help.

Comfort Zone drug-free calming solutions are effective in helping cats feel safe, happy, and calm using signals they understand. By using Comfort Zone Calming Diffusers, you can help your cat feel happier in general, which may lead to a more peaceful nail clipping session. If your cat needs more round-the-clock reassurance, snap a Comfort Zone Calming Collar around her neck. She will take those calming feelings wherever she goes.

Introduce Your Cat to the Nail Clippers

Slowly introduce your cat to the nail clippers. First, set them on the ground and let your cat sniff them. Then try clipping other items (like your own nails) from time to time to help your cat get used to the sound.

As for which nail clippers you should use, pick whatever is most comfortable for you and your cat. Some people use human nail clippers. Others may choose a type of nail clipper designed especially for cats.1

How to Hold Your Cat When Trimming Her Nails

Some cats only need a gentle touch while getting their nails trimmed. For these, rest your arm over your cat's body and softly lift each paw for nail clipping. If he gets a little antsy, let him go and finish the rest of his nails when he's relaxed again.

Other cats need to be constrained. Gently roll a towel around your cat, allowing only his head and front paws to remain free. If your cat won't hold still long enough to be cocooned in a towel, you might try a grooming bag designed for cats.

How to Cut Your Cat's Nails

While holding your cat's paw, gently squeeze one toe until the retractable claw is exposed. Don't squeeze the sides, but rather the top and bottom, coaxing the claw out by pressing slightly behind it.

Note where the pink part at the base of the claw is.2 This is the "quick" and should not be cut. It's full of nerve endings and could bleed and hurt if clipped.

Instead, clip the pointy edge of the nail, leaving plenty of room between your nail clipper and the quick.3 Most people only trim their cat's front paws. They're easier to clip, and these are the claws that tend to do the most damage. You may need to clip them once every six to eight weeks.

If clipping your cat's nails is too difficult, ask your veterinarian for help. Some people even use cat groomers. In most situations, cat owners will choose to do it themselves. Just follow this simple guide, and you should be fine. Make sure to end the clipping session with a yummy treat, congratulatory pets, and praise to build your cat's e-meow-tional health.

1. The Humane Society of the United States. "Trimming a Cat's Claws.",

2. Washington State University. "Clipping a Cat's Claws.",'s-claws.

3. Lichtenberg, Debora. "Trimming Your Cat's Nails: An Expert Guide." Petful, 2 April 2019,