How To Clip Cat Claws

Clipping cat claws is fairly straightforward, as long as you know what you're doing. It's also a much more humane way of limiting damage to furniture etc. than declawing cats.

Some cats need their claws clipping more than others. Older cats, cats that don't really scratch up against things and indoor cats that walk on soft floors all the time are more likely to need their claws clipped regularly.

You may decide you want to clip your kitty's claws even if he does go out and scratch up against things a lot - because he's filed his nails into fine points that rip your soft furnishings and pierce your leg when he decides to knead on you!

picture of cat with cat claw showing

This page gives you tips and advice on the best way to clip cats claws. There's also a video which shows a vet correctly doing this.

Tips For Successfully Clipping Cat Claws

1) Put Kitty on the table and hold him from behind

Holding Kitty from behind has 2 advantages. Firstly, he feels less threatened because you're not looming up at him from the front complete wielding those scary looking nail clippers. And secondly, if you hold him so his back is touching your stomach, if he steps back, he's got nowhere to go.

2) Gently press on Kitty's paw to expose his nails

Take hold of Kitty's paw and gently press on the top of it. This will cause his toes to spread out and his nails to become exposed so you can easily see and reach them. If you're not sure how to do this, the video below clearly shows you.

By the way, at this stage you may see his nails and decide they don't need to be clipped. You should only clip them if they have a sharp, pointed tip. You'll often find you rarely or never have to cut the claws on his back legs, as Kitty doesn't sharpen them like he does with his front claws.

3) Clip the tip of his claw only using professional clippers

close up picture of cat claws

To clip Kitty's claws, you should use professional clippers that you can buy from your vet. These are easy to use and much less likely to cause any mishaps than human nail clippers, for example.

When you clip, you only want to clip off the tip of the claw. All you're trying to do is get rid of the sharp point. Further up the nail is the blood supply, and you definitely don't want to clip into this - it will really hurt. The yellow line on the photo here shows roughly where you should cut - there's no need to go any higher.

4) Remember to clip Kitty's "thumb" nail too

In addition to the claws at the very end of Kitty's paws, he has another one further up his leg (sort of equivalent to a thumb!) Remember to check this claw too and clip it if necessary. This claw has more of a tendency than the rest to overgrow.

That's it! You may find this job difficult at first, but usually once you and Kitty are used to it he won't mind. It is more difficult with longhaired cats as their hair covers the claws more - you have to move the hair out of the way to get to the claws. In this situation a second person helping may be useful.

Video - How To Correctly Clip Cat Claws

Go from clipping cat claws page to cat care page

Go to Cat Behavior Explained home page