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How to Clip Your Cat's Nails

Learn how to clip your cat's nails from board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. E'Lise Christensen, DVM in this Howcast video.


Have you ever wondered if you could trim your own cats nails rather than taking them for a stressful trip to the groomer or veterinarian's office? Well, the good news is you actually can teach most cats to be comfortable having their nails trimmed as long as you do it gradually. The first thing you'll need is a cat that's interested in the food that you've got and in this case, thankfully I have a little cat who's pretty interested. So now that I see that she's interested in eating our treats, I'm going to just show you the claws, so you can see what you're actually trimming.

When you look at a cat's claws you can see their claws come out when you push the pads. So, you might be able to see that in this cat they're clear which is great because when you're trying to trim in a home, having clear nails makes things much easier. Now, the next thing you're going to need is a nail trimmer. I like to use these or even a regular nail trimmer for a human. I just keep a special one for the cat.

In this case, I'm encouraging her to go ahead and rub on the trimmer because I want her to experience it and not necessarily it's something that she doesn't like. I'm also going to get some more treats ready because even though we're not going to trim her nails altogether today, I want her to have a positive experience so that when she goes home with a new family, I won't have set them up for failure.

So, here's some more chicken. This is just freeze dried chicken I'm using. You could use anything that the cat likes that isn't toxic. I'm going to grab her paw and trim just a tiny bit off. One important thing to keep in mind when you're trimming cat's nails is that it's so much better to just do one here and there than to try and do all of them at one time because when a cat's not comfortable you can actually make them really panicky if you try to do all their nails.

In addition, it's really important to only take a tiny bit off. You can always trim them more later, but if you accidentally hurt your cat by trimming their nail into the [inaudible 00:01:58] or the fleshy part of the nail, you might have a really hard time getting their nails trimmed in the future. If you gradually pair trimming one nail with a piece of food, you're going to find that your cat starts to really enjoy nail trims and then you won't have to worry about going to the vet to have it done. That's how you teach your cat to have his nails trimmed.

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