Someone trimming their cats claws.

How to Trim Your Cat's Nails

Many cat owners are apprehensive about trimming their cat’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick, a pinkish area inside the nail. The quick is the living part of the nail and contains blood vessels and nerves, and when cut can be quite painful for the cat. Do not cut close to the cat’s toe, only clip off the sharp point. If you were to accidentally clip the quick, have styptic powder on-hand to stop the bleeding. 

What you need:

  • Cat nail clippers
  • Emery board or file
  • Cat treats
  • Styptic powder in case of bleeding

Cat Nail Trimming & Care Step-by-Step

  • 1

    Preparation:

    It's best to calm your cat before trying to trim their nails. A great way to do this is to play with them to wear them out, take them for a walk if that's a routine thing you do, or wait until they are in a sleepy state.   

    Provide your cat with plenty of positive reinforcement and praise as you begin to clip their nails. Offer them treats if they tolerate the process or if they demonstrate discomfort to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience. 

  • 2

    Clipping:

    Start by spreading your cat’s feet to inspect for dirt and debris. As you start to clip, gently press on your cat’s paws to help them become accustomed to the feeling of having their nails clipped.

  • 3

    Hold your cat in place by putting your arms and upper body over it while you clip its nails. While clipping front nails, hold your forearm over the cat’s neck to prevent it from lifting its head. If cat remains anxious or jumpy, try laying it on its side and gently holding it down.

  • 4

    Using sharp cat nail clippers, cut off the tip of each nail at a slight angle, just before the point where it begins to curl. At the point where the nail starts to curl is where the quick is. 

  • 5

    Take care to avoid the quick, which is the vein that runs into the nail. If you accidentally cut into the quick, causing bleeding, apply some styptic powder to stop bleeding. Refer to our treating dog nail bleeding article to understand treating nail bleeding. If it's excessive, call your vet.

  • 6

    After all of your dog's nails have been cut, use an emery board or file to smooth out the edges. Then, give them another treat to associate nail clipping with a positive experience.