Cutting Cat Claws – You Should At Home

For all my cat parents out there, you know by now that cat’s claws can be a deadly thing….that one scratch on accident that can hurt like crazy! But did you know that you can cut your cat’s claws at home? You should if you haven’t already.

I’ve met a lot of cat parents that haven’t heard of cutting cat claws and when I meet them, I’m always telling them that it’s easy to keep them short and trimmed at home. No need to go to a vet to do this and you don’t have to pay the extra money. However, you will want to start your cat early on so that they don’t freak out the first time you try this, especially if you have an older cat.

So, just how do you cut them yourself?

Cats Claws Are Like Dog’s Claws.

Cat claws have a tendency to get overgrown over time, and I’ve even seen cats claws that have grown so much that they’ve curled in on themselves and gone into the foot of a cat. Being a cat lover for a very long time, I always made sure to groom my cats just like I would my dogs.

I give them baths, I trim their claws, I cut out the matted lumps that can form, especially in long furred cats. It’s important to groom your cats regularly. They may not always be able to fully bathe themselves and often times, I find that they feel dusty almost over time, so baths are a requirement in my book.

Their claws can also grow excessively long, so I trim them weekly like I do my dogs. And those clumps of fur that form on long haired cats – this can be painful to them over time as it starts to spin in on itself and pulls the fur and causes them discomfort.

So, How Do You Cut Their Claws?

My favorite question of all time! How do you cut a cat’s claws? Well, I’ve been training mine since they were kittens that this is happening….just be still. I lay them on their back with their paws up, I grab my small clippers in my right hand and with my left, I grab their first paw. I gently grab each toe and kind of push the claw out so it’s all the way out. This allows me to see the quick.

Once I can see the pink quick line, then I simply clip off the nail leaving just a smidgen of nail left so I don’t get too close and hurt them. From there, I do all the other toes on that paw and move on to the others. Because I’ve been doing this to them since they were kittens, they already know what to expect when I pick them up and lay them on their back in my lap. It only takes about 3 minutes from start to finish. Easy.

Why Do I Cut Their Claws?

Like dogs, cats claws can get out of hand quickly. I mentioned not long ago making sure to have a cat scratching post in your home because cats have to scratch! That means, they’ll scratch furniture if they have to, and I’ve even seen cats try to scratch at peoples legs before.

It’s embedded in their DNA to scratch. In the wild, this is how they keep their claws not only sharp, but also shortened to a preferable length so they don’t get too long. Dogs usually run their claws down by running on concrete, but in Alaska, we don’t have that luxury in the winter since it’s just soft snow on the ground.

Cats however, may not be outdoor cats, so they have to do something with their claws, but the scratching posts don’t help keep them short, they simply give them something to scratch at, period.

What Clippers Do I Use?

This question is easy to answer – any small clippers. I’ve even used human nail clippers in the past and cut them by turning the clippers to the side. That sounds strange. How can I explain this in words? Cat claws don’t grow in a perfect tube-like shape. They grow elongated with a skinny edge versus the flat edge. In turning the clippers to cut along the skinny ridge, they cut easily and without splintering.

Small pet nail clippers will allow you cut them from any angle, but if you don’t have any at home and you have toenail clippers, those work too, I just don’t recommend them. I do recommend clippers designed for claws. This will allow for a clean cut with no splintering.

Splintering their nails can cause them to tear towards the quick and you don’t want that. Tearing can lead to discomfort and even bleeding down the road if it gets to their skin. So caution should be used to avoid this. Cats clippers range in price from $4.99 and up, so they’re not expensive at all. If you have a cat whose claws grow rapidly, I recommend buying a set.


See my review on the best clippers that I use at home for those of you needing a pair – here’s the link. The one’s I prefer are actually very inexpensive, and I think I only paid like $8 for mine. There are the automated filing one’s out there as well that cost more, but honestly, if you keep at them weekly, no need to spend the $50 it can cost for these one’s.

The only time I recommend the filing one’s are if you don’t know what the quick is and how to stay away from it. Here’s a picture for you on the right to show you what the quick looks like, so be sure to stay away from this and don’t cut too close. When in doubt, simply clip the sharp point off at the end and it will help to keep their claws at a good length.

If you have any questions on how to cut their claws, leave your questions below. I’m more than happy to answer any you might have.

*Disclaimer – I am not a licensed veterinarian, but I have had cats and dogs my whole life and know how to cut claws. If you are at all uncomfortable with cutting your own pets claws, please take them to your local veterinarian instead.

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