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While your cat will be good at taking care of their own claws, you might be wondering if you need to help if they get too long. We’ve put together a guide on cutting your cat’s claws so you can find out more.

Just like our nails, cat claws are always growing. You might not notice your cat’s claws getting longer, as they’re good at keeping them a good length by scratching. Sometimes a cat’s claws may get too long for a number of reasons which is when you might need to trim them.


Should I clip my cat’s claws?

If the idea of getting anywhere near your cat’s claws fills you with terror, you’re not the only one. Watch our video which looks at why you might need to clip your cat’s claws and how you can do this safely:

If you have a young, active cat, it’s unlikely you’ll need to trim their claws at all. As long as they have plenty of places to scratch to keep them in good condition, then they should be fine.

Some cats, for example older cats or ones with mobility problems (like arthritis) may not be able to keep on top of claw maintenance. It’s then that you might need to help them out by trimming the ends.

How to tell if your cat’s claws are too long

If your cat’s claws get too long, it can cause problems for them and even hurt them. There are a few signs your cat’s claws are too long:

  • they might catch them on things such as blankets or carpets
  • you can see them clearly when your cat is resting
  • they struggle to scratch their claws (because they are too long and painful)
  • you hear them tap when they walk on hard floors

If you notice any change in your cat’s claws or suspect they might be growing into their paw pads, make an appointment with your vet.

Cutting your cat’s claws: step-by-step

If you do need to trim your cat’s claws, first it’s really important to make sure you have the right tools for the job. You can buy clippers made specially for cat claws from most pet shops.

Take a look at our step-by-step guide to help you cut your cat’s claws.

  1. Prepare. Make sure you have everything you need (clippers, treats) before you get started. Close any doors and windows to stop your cat escaping. You might want to put a blanket or towel down for them.
  2. Make sure your cat is comfortable. Try to get your cat settled where you plan to trim their claws. Make sure they are in a position where you can hold them comfortably but firmly.
  3. Hold their paw. When you’re ready to start clipping, gently hold one of the paws between your finger and thumb. Apply very gentle pressure until you can see their claws – don’t squeeze them!
  4. Clip the tip. With the proper clippers, clip the very tip of the claw. Don’t cut them too short as you could hurt your cat. Avoid the quick at the base of the claw by the toes – this is the bit that will look pink. If you cut this, it will be very painful for your cat and will make them bleed. Keep to the white parts at the very tip.
  5. Give your cat a treat. Once you have done one paw, it’s best to stop so your cat doesn’t get too stressed in one go. Give them a treat or play their favourite game as a reward if that’s what they want. They may prefer to just slip out and be by themselves for a while.
  6. Repeat for the rest of the paws. It’s best to space claw clipping out over a few days and tackle one paw at a time so your cat doesn’t become too distressed.

You might find it’s easier to have a second person help you clip your cat’s claws. Speak to your vet or vet nurse if you’re worried as they can show you how to properly hold your cat and how to safely clip their claws.

Do not use human clippers on your cat’s claws. They are a completely different shape to our nails and using human clippers could cause them to split which is painful for your cat.

Why do I find cat claws around the house?

It might be worrying to find what looks like a cat claw on their blanket or near where your cat scratches, but don’t worry, this is normal.

You’re not actually finding your cat’s claw. The likelihood is that you are finding a claw sheath, which your cat sheds through scratching. This is completely normal and a sign they are keeping their claws in good condition.

Cat claw covers

You should never try to cover your cat’s claws with claw covers or anything else. These are often marketed as a humane way to stop your cat scratching furniture, but they actually cause cats a lot of stress and can be painful.

Putting claw covers or caps on your cat’s claws will mean they can no longer retract them. It will also stop them from scratching which is a natural behaviour and means they can’t groom themselves as well.

If you’re worried about your cat scratching furniture, make sure you provide lots of alternatives for them to scratch and encourage them to use these (for example, by placing a scratching post in front of the sofa they like to scratch).

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