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How to Clip Your Cat’s Nails

Combating cat-scratch fever can prolong the life of your furniture—and your skin. Depending on how destructive your kitty is, you may want to administer a pedicure every 2 weeks—and the sooner you start, the better!


  • Step 1: Sit with cat facing you Sit in a comfortable chair with the cat in your lap facing you.
  • Step 2: Take front paw in hand Gently take one of the cat’s front paws in your hand.
  • TIP: If he isn’t comfortable with this process, you can try making a kitty burrito, wrapping his body tightly in a towel and gently pulling out one paw at a time, or having someone else hold him while you clip.
  • Step 3: Reveal nail To reveal each nail, gently press the pad of the cat’s paw with your thumb. At the same time, press on the top of the paw—below the claw—with your index finger. The nail will protrude and remain extended until you release your hold.
  • Step 4: Avoid the quick Hold the claw still and clip the tip. Be careful to avoid the quick—the darker area that you can see inside most cats’ nails—that consists of blood vessels and nerves. Pain and bleeding for your cat, after all, will probably translate to immediate pain and bleeding for you.
  • Step 5: If quick starts to bleed ... If your cat’s quick does start to bleed, you can usually stop it by dipping the paw in styptic powder or cornstarch—assuming you can still get anywhere near your cat. If the bleeding continues for more than 10 minutes, call your vet.
  • TIP: The good news? If a cat’s nails are clipped regularly, the quick of the nail recedes over time. The bad news? The time between now and then...
  • Step 6: Don't worry about back claws Clipping the nails on the cat’s back feet is not as important as clipping the front claws, since your cat will most likely use its front paws scratch both you and your furniture. If your cat is too stressed out, leave the back claws for another time.
  • Step 7: Be slow & consistent Alright, so your cat’s pedicure is no day at the spa—for either of you. But the more you handle his feet, the less stressed he’ll be, so be slow but consistent, clipping even just one nail per day until they’re all done. He’ll be a calmer customer within a few months.
  • FACT: When looking to scratch, cats are attracted to rough, uneven, or nubbly surfaces, but they usually steer clear of tightly woven fabrics—something to keep in mind the next time you’re choosing a couch or wearing a hand-knit sweater!

You Will Need

  • A comfortable chair
  • A pair of cat nail clippers
  • Styptic powder or cornstarch
  • A towel
  • A helper

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