How to Cut Cat Nails

Trimming your cat's nails may be a task that fills you with dread, but with a little preparation, it can be a stress-free experience for everyone, which is why we are going to talk about how to cut cat nails.

If you have an outdoor cat, then you will probably find that you will not need to trim their nails. Climbing and walking on rough surfaces will wear them down naturally. If your cat spends most of their time inside or is older or arthritic, then you may find that you need to trim their nails every six to eight weeks.

Signs that their nails are getting too long include when they start to curve and start to get stuck in carpets or soft surfaces. If they can no longer retract their claws, then that is also a sign it is time for a trim.


There are several different types of clippers you could use, so we have put together a quick guide to help you see which one might be best for you and your cat.

Scissor-Type Trimmers

Although these trimmers have the appearance of a pair of scissors, they are designed to cut the nails of smaller animals. These are easy to use but you may find that they are not powerful enough to cut through tough nails of older cats.

Professional Clippers for Cats

Nail clippers designed for professional use by groomers and vets can be a good investment. Quality brands will cut through the toughest of nail growth. Look out for makes that have rubberized handles which are much more comfortable to use.

Although you can get different sized clippers, you may find this style is still too big and cumbersome for the nails of a small cat.

Guillotine-Style Clippers

Another type which is used professionals, but these are more challenging to use, and we only recommend using them with a very calm cat because you need to set the nail within the guillotine window at just the right angle. If your cat is moving around it is going to be tough to do.

Human Nail Clippers

Believe it or not, you may already have nail clippers which are perfect for the job. Human nail clippers are nice and small, so that means that they are quick and easy to get in the right place to complete the trim. They work best if you turn them sidewise, so the opposite way of how you use them on your own nails.

Step by Step

When your cat is calm about having their nails cut, it is a quick and easy process. If they become stressed and anxious, it is difficult for everyone, even if you have asked a professional to help. But the great news is that there are some ways you can help your cat to cope with having their nails trimmed. Now, it is easier to start the training when they are young, but there is no reason why an older cat cannot learn too, it may just take a little longer and little more patience.

Start the training when your cat does not need to have their claws clipped. This may mean they go to the store to have them done and then you start when they get home. Our five-step guide to calm nail trimming just takes a few minutes of training time every day.

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Step 1

Using your cat's absolute favorite food. You are going to simply touch their paw, remove your hand and then give them a taste of the food. Repeat this step 10 times.

Step 2

Now, very slowly, increase the amount of times you keep your hand on their paw, adding on a few seconds each day until you get to around 15 seconds by the end of the week.

Step 3

By pressing your cat's paw between your forefinger and thumb, this unsheathes the claw. After the claw pokes out, immediately reward your cat with food. Repeat several times. Again, repeat for several days, ensuring that your cat is relaxed throughout

Step 4

It is time to repeat steps one and two but this time using the nail clippers to touch the paw rather than your hand. Keep repeating this until your cat becomes very happy about seeing the clippers. After all, they now know yummy food is on its way!

Step 5

Finally, you can lift the paw, un-sheath the claw and clip, followed by the great food. Remember to clip below the pink as it will bleed if you cut into it.

So, you can decide to cut your own cat's nails following our training steps, or you can take them to the store for staff to do them for you. We have outlined the pros and cons of each option.

Trimming at Home


  • No need to transport your cat which they might find stressful
  • Not restricted to store opening times
  • Free, once you buy the clippers


  • Can be tricky at first
  • It may take some time to go through the training process

Using a Store Service


  • Completed by a professional who will be much quicker than you can be
  • They're experienced at handling cats
  • They'll know exactly how much to trim off the nail


  • You'll need to take your cat to the store so it might be stressful for them getting them into the carrier and then coping with the journey in the car
  • Cost of going every six to eight weeks

Whichever route you decide to take, nail care is an important part of your cat's health routine.