Nail Trimming

Regularly trimming your cat’s nails can prevent injury and damage to household items. Make sure you have proper feline nail trimmers so your cat’s nails don’t splinter. The frequency of nail trimming will depend on your cat’s lifestyle. Indoor cats, kittens, and older cats will need more regular nail trims. Outdoor cats may naturally wear down their nails requiring less frequent trimming.

Helpful Tips and Things to Know

Clipping a can't nails
  • Trimming a cat’s nails takes a little practice, but it is not difficult.
  • Convincing your cat that nail trims are necessary might be the hardest part of the procedure!
  • Choose nail trimmers that are small enough for cat nails so you can see what you are cutting.
  • If possible, start nail trims when they are  kittens so they become comfortable with the process.
  • If your cat does not like nail trims start slow, offer breaks, and make it a familiar routine.
  • Give your cat a high-value treat with every nail trim. Make sure to only use this special treat for nail trims.
  • Ask your veterinarian for advice or a demonstration on trimming your cat’s nails.
  • Always trim nails in a calm environment and provide positive reinforcement.
  • Proper training to scratch on appropriate surfaces, combined with nail care, can prevent damage in the home.

Trimming a cat’s nails is not difficult. It just takes a little practice. -Dr. Debra Givin, DVM

As with any skill, becoming comfortable and skilled at nail trims will take some time and patience. Your cat might try to discourage your efforts, but if you remain calm, cool, and collected you will succeed and nail trimming will soon become part of your normal routine.

Check out additional resources from the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine for information and photos on nail trimming tools, tips for success, and how to position your cat for their trim.