Skip to main content

How to Trim Cat Nails

26th Oct 2022

Cats are independent, which is an admirable quality—unless it’s time to do things like trimming their nails, that is! Believe it or not, it’s possible to accomplish this important aspect of cat care safely and without stress.

When Are a Cat’s Nails Too Long?

If the tips of your cat’s nails stick out even when retracted, it’s likely because their nails are too long. The same is true if their nails are incredibly sharp or have become curved.

Cats do maintain their nails naturally through scratching and shedding, but it’s always important to check their nails regularly. Ingrown nails can be painful. Left uncut, overgrown nails can also change the way your cat walks, which can place stress on joints and other areas.

How Often Should Cats Have Their Claws Clipped?

Outdoor cats may only need trims a few times a year. For older cats, once a month should suffice. Kittens will need weekly trims, while indoor cats should be trimmed bi-weekly.

Must-Have Trimming Tools

These are essential tools for trimming:

  • Cutting tool (trimmer or grinder)
  • Treats or toys
  • Towel
  • An assistant
  • Lots of love

Cat treats and catnip toys will be essential parts of the trimming process. They’ll help keep your kitty calm and happy during trimming.

If your kitty doesn’t like having their nails trimmed, they may scratch or squirm. A towel can prevent injury and help you get the job done quickly.

Having someone to help can also make trimming easier. Finally, going into it with lots of love will benefit both of you.

Types of Trimming Tools

There are several styles of clippers for cats:

  • Nail grinders work like a file, smoothing nails as they trim their length.
  • Plier clippers contain a spring that can help you cut through thicker nails.
  • Guillotine-style clippers allow you to feed the nail through a hole, and then cut it with a sliding blade.
  • Scissor clippers look like scissors and have a spot to rest the nail before cutting.

Nail grinders can be noisy and cause stress in some cats. Also, be aware that although they’ll stay sharp longer than other implements, guillotine clippers can be difficult to use.

How to Trim Your Cat’s Claws

The things you do throughout their trimming session will make all the difference.


Before cutting your cat’s nails, ensure you have everything you need with you and select a quiet place. Then find the best way to hold your cat. It should allow for easy access to their nails and be comfortable for them, too.

If they’re more of a squirmy worm, a towel can be your best friend. Wrap your cat in it, leaving one paw out at a time for trimming. You can also use the towel to cover their head while trimming.


Hold your cat’s paw in a way that’s comfortable for them. Gently press the pad under the nail to expose it. Then, look for the pink part of the nail, which is the quick. It should never be cut, as doing so is very painful.

Trim a tiny amount at a time firmly at a 45-degree angle. Cutting straight across gently can cause a rough cut and damage nail material. If you see a black or pink dot in the middle of the nail, it’s time to stop.

Give your cat a treat after every nail if they’ll accept one.


After trimming is done, and if your kitty is receptive, offer them treats, play with them, or snuggle them. All of these things will help them make a positive association with trimming.

More Trimming Tips

Throughout trimming, watch for signs of stress and aggression like growling, a rapidly-swishing tail, or lowered ears. If you see any, your cat is stressed; take a short break.

If you do cut the quick, apply styptic powder immediately; this will stop the bleeding.

Some cats just don’t like their nails being trimmed. Consider signing them up for a free nail clipping day at your vet’s or make an appointment with a groomer.

Never force your cat to comply. They’ll lose trust in you and undergo terrible stress.

Top-Quality Cat Furniture

Nail trimming is an important part of keeping your cat healthy. Another is giving them a scratching, climbing, and sleeping space that’s all their own. Armarkat is the best-in-class cat tree manufacturer that offers over 180 tree styles. We’re also the only manufacturer that offers replacement parts. Check out our cat tree and other collections today!