Trimming cat claws

How to Trim Your Cat’s Claws (When They Really Don’t Want You to)

| November 12, 2021

Some cats don’t mind a quick nail trim. Others would rather you didn’t (to put it mildly). In fact, they might not like their paws being touched at all. This can make the process more stressful, not just for them, but for you as well.

Find their favourite food

First, find your cat’s favourite food. Their absolute favourite. You want to pair something they love with something they do not love. That way, they will begin to associate one with the other.

Handle their paws while they eat

While they enjoy their favourite food, gently handle their paws for only a few moments. Then, stop touching their paws and put their food away. After a few moments, begin again to feed them and handle their paws. They will soon learn they only get the food when their paws are being handled.

Bring out the trimmers

Do not start cutting just yet. First, offer them their favourite food. Then, with the end of your trimmer, begin to gently tap your cat’s claws while they are eating. Stop all handling and feeding after a few taps. Then start feeding and tapping again.

Begin trimming

Start by cutting one of your cat’s claws while they are eating. Make sure to stay calm and take things slow. Look at your cat’s claw for the “quick” (the pink area near the base) and cut  2mm above where the quick ends. Did they resist the first cut? Repeat the above steps one or two more times. Remember: this may take time. Be patient.

If they continue eating, slowly proceed to cut more claws. If they show a negative reaction to further trimming, allow them to continue eating, but stop trimming their claws. Return to the process on a different day. Providing breaks between training sessions will help make the exercise easier over time.

If you have tried the above strategies and your cat still becomes aggressive or excessively stressed during claw trimming, then it is time to talk to your veterinarian.

Some trimming “Don’ts”

Do not declaw your cat

Declawing is the amputation of the last bone on a cat’s toes. This can lead to chronic pain and  behavioural issues such as biting, inappropriate litter box use, and over-grooming. Declawing is illegal in many countries around the world, because it is regarded as inhumane.

Do not use punishments

Punishment will not accomplish the desired effect. Instead, it may only serve to damage your relationship with your cat and make them even more adverse to the trimming process.

Don’t forget the dew claw!

The ‘thumb’ claw or “dew claw” wears down less quickly than the other claws, so it may need more frequent cutting.

Don’t forget to provide a lot of scratching surfaces

By providing your cat with scratching surfaces, (like cat scratchers and scratching posts), you won’t have to trim your cat’s claws as frequently.