How to Cut a Kitten's Nails

Trim your kitten's nails regularly to prevent injuries.
Trim your kitten's nails regularly to prevent injuries. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Claw-trimming should begin early on in your cat's life; ideally, you should start cutting your cat's nails when she is a kitten so that she can get used to the routine. Regular trimming of your kitten's claws is necessary in maintaining her health; it also prevents other members of the household--humans or pets--from getting scratched and injured. Since cats often use home furnishings as scratching posts, your furniture will also be spared if you routinely cut your kitten's nails. As a cat owner, using proper nail-trimming techniques is essential in preventing any injuries during the process.

Things You'll Need

  • Nail clippers
  • Styptic powder or cornstarch
  • Blanket or towel
  • Nail file
  • Cat treat or toy

Prepare the materials needed for trimming your kitten's nails. You'll need a pair of nail clippers; you may use fingernail clippers for humans, guillotine blade clippers or specialized nail scissors designed just for cats. Also, have styptic powder or cornstarch handy in case you accidentally cause bleeding of your cat's claws.

Restrain your kitten so that she does not move during the process, potentially resulting in injuries. Put her in your lap and drape your forearms over the neck and rear of the cat. If restraint is difficult, have another person restrain the cat or wrap your cat up in a towel or blanket so that just her paws and her head are sticking out.

Take one paw with one hand and gently squeeze the top and bottom sides of the paw so that the claws extend and the nails are exposed.

Use your other hand to clip the nails, cutting off only the sharp tips of the claws. Be careful not to cut into the pinkish part of the nail or the "quick" as it contains blood vessels and nerve endings. If you do cut into the quick, apply the styptic powder or cornstarch to the injury to stop the bleeding.

Take the other paw, squeeze it gently to extend the claws and clip the tips of the nails carefully.

File the nails after trimming to smooth out the ends, recommends the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University.

Reward your cat after you finish trimming her nails with a favorite treat or toy. This will help her associate the process with something positive.

Tips & Warnings

  • Trim on a regularly basis to prevent destruction of your furniture as well as injuries. Cat's nails can grow back and become sharp within a week. Veterinarian Dr. Jeffrey Feinman suggests trimming your cat's nails one to two times a week.
  • Though it is not common practice to trim the rear paws, you may do so if they have gotten too long or sharp. Use the same techniques for trimming the rear claws as you did for the front claws.
  • Make sure the blades of the nail clippers are sharp. Dull blades may hurt your feline friend by causing blunt pressure on the nails or they may cause bleeding or splitting of the nails.

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