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Info Page: Cat nail clipping

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Cat nail clipping

The nails of indoor cats can get long and sharp.
This can not only be disturbing for you during play or because she is damaging your furniture, but also for your cat. Her nails get stuck in fabric and in time her tail can grow in her own paw pad.

So it is a good idea to cut the nails of your cat.
All you need is a nail clipper (no nail clipper for people, which is for flat nails instead of round nails), patience and ... the cat.

Take your cat on your lap. Hold the nail trimmer with one hand and take your cat’s paw in the other hand. Gently press to expose a nail and do a quick, but careful snip. If she reacts, don’t attempt to do any more nails. If she’s calm, do another. Always end on a positive note so it’s better to come back and do a couple more nails later, rather than have her struggle and undo all the good behavior modification work you’ve been doing. Do not cut into the quick, this is the ‘live’ part and will hurt your cat! Only cut the tip of the white nail part.


  • Start clipping the nails when she is a kitten. She will then feel it is the most natural thing in the world.
  • Choose a time for nail trimming when your cat is relaxed. Otherwise she will feel like she doesn’t ‘have time’ for stay on your lap.
  • If your cat protests:
    • Let her get used to the nail clipper (just put it in sight, like between her toys)
    • If she still flees, keep him proactive in your pocket so that you have it at hand when the ideal time arrives and do not have to get out of the drawer at that time (where she knows it is stored of course)
    • If your cat has had negative experiences with nail trimming, you shouldn’t attempt to do more than one or nails during each trimming session. It’s better to have the whole procedure over and done before your cat even realizes what just happened. If you keep the experience quick and positive, she’ll be more relaxed next time around.
    • Is your cat protesting when she is on your lap and you hold her paw? Than this is an important exercise (for you and your cat!) Avoid letting her go due to the protest, because she will learn immediately that when she protests when you do something she does not understand, that you will stop. So… she will always keep protesting.
      • Have sympathy for her protest, because if someone blocks our wrist (and you do not understand why), you also automatically pull away. So stay calm.
      • But do not give in. Rest assured, however powerful her struggles are, she will not hurt herself. It is an exercise (where you may not have been able to cut a nail, but that is ok). Just hold her paw until she stops protesting. She stops (so "gives in") release her paw and awards her (treat, favorite game) and finish the exercise. She will learn that protest is useless, but that it will soon be over if she stays calm. This way you build up slowly until you can cut her nails. Sometimes only 1 or 2 exercise sessions are needed, but with some cats a lot more. But in time and with patience it will all work out.

Good luck!

If you do accidentally cut the quick: This will hurt your cat and cause a lot of bleeding. But it appears worse than it is and the bleeding will stop soon. But if you follow the guidelines, you will not cut the quick.

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