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Clipping Cat Claws a Step By Step DIY

Updated on March 13, 2013


MacIntosh the Apple Head Siamese born 1999
MacIntosh the Apple Head Siamese born 1999 | Source

Mac and Sophia

They are family
They are family | Source


Mac drinking from Sophia's bowl
Mac drinking from Sophia's bowl | Source

Oh Mac!

NOT a recommended way to wash your kitty.
NOT a recommended way to wash your kitty. | Source
Lilly inspects, clippers, towel, tape, collar all on the kitty condo with scratching post
Lilly inspects, clippers, towel, tape, collar all on the kitty condo with scratching post | Source

Clip Your Cat's Claws Yourself

Clipping your cat’s claws is a combination of training both yourself and the cat in question. It is also an exercise in patience. Here is a pretty darn good method to train both yourself and the kitty in the fine art of claw clipping.

We always clip our kitty's claws before we take them to the vet or give them a bath. They are not by nature cats that scratch us but they do grab a hold of us to get away from the vet and the bath!

Also, it is easier to teach a little 4 ounce fuzz ball of a cute kitten to accept a claw clipping than a 10 pound regal all grown-up cat to accept a claw clipping. However, both may be trained to accept a clipping with little to no drama and blood letting.

How to Clip Claws Instructions

You will need one human finger nail clipper and a big bath sheet size towel. I recommend you have a non break-away collar on the kitty as you may need to grasp the collar if the cat begins to wrestle with you. Break away collars are a must for an indoor/outdoor kitty. I have one kitty, Lilly the Pad, in a break away collar and can control her very well. The Mac 'Meister' cat (the Siamese cat in the pictures) is a dang Houdini and I have a dog collar on him and he still manages to get out of it. I also am a big proponent of having a bell on the collars. I like the sound for one thing and it does help you keep track of the kitty.

I prefer to begin when the kitty is very young.

Mac All Grown Up

Clipping the now grown-up Mac's back paws
Clipping the now grown-up Mac's back paws | Source
Front Paw Clipping
Front Paw Clipping | Source

No More Towel needed!

Claw clipping is no big deal to Mac now.
Claw clipping is no big deal to Mac now. | Source

Mac was taught this is okay too!

Work with your cat when he/she is younger.  They will get use to the handling.
Work with your cat when he/she is younger. They will get use to the handling. | Source

The first introductions to claw clipping should be comforting and not business like. Gently swaddle the kitty in a towel and go outside. We use a swing and make sure the kitty has their back to the house and can observe all the interesting things outside during this process. Just sit and talk with them while you take each paw in your hand and gently stroke the paw between your thumb and index finger. Gently push the claw out of the sheath while rubbing the paw too. Have the clippers in your hand. Do NOT clip anything the first few times. All you are doing is showing the kitty that this activity poses no threat and can be quite nice. Sweet talk your kitty.

Repeat this everyday until the kitty accepts the activity as very normal. You are also training yourself in patience. It takes patience the first few times to clip your kitty’s claws.

After a few exercises of the above, you are now ready for the first clipping session. Swaddle the kitty and go outside. It is nice if there is something for the kitty to watch like some birds etc. Gently grasp a paw, press the claw out of the sheath (again gently) and begin clipping. Clip only the very tip of the claw off the first time. You are training yourself to clip claws and you NEVER EVER want to draw blood.

Do try and clip all the claws on each paw. If this exercise does not go well, you can go back to just swaddling, stroking each paw, and pushing the claw out of the sheath. Never let the kitty call an end to the clipping. It is important that you retain control. Yes, it is also frustrating if your kitty is not cooperating. It is better to keep control than get all the claws clipped the first time that you try

Had no idea your kitty could caterwaul that loud did you? Well, the special word caterwauling was created for such cat loudness.

Not only will clipping your kitty’s claws yourself save you money and time, it will create a closer bond between you and your kitty.

Be very very careful to not clip the claws too deep. You do NOT want to draw blood.

If your kitty has clear claws it is easier to clip the claws as you can see the quick. If your kitty has black claws be sure to only clip just the tips of the claws. It is better to have to clip more often than cut too deep and draw blood. If you clip too deep you will injure the kitty and might draw blood. You will also cause the cat to NOT trust you. There are two things that will help stop the bleeding should you clip too deep, Vaseline and baking soda.

You should be able to clip clear claws easily. If you are concerned about clipping black claws, do consider having your vet clip the kitty’s claws.

Also, I always clip my kitty’s claws the day before a vet visit. My vet always thanks me for this courtesy.

Natural Kitty and Great Furniture Can Get Along!

I am a strong advocate for NOT de-clawing cats. The method is draconian. It takes off a whole end joint. Here is an excellent discussion on de-clawing:

You must teach your cat to not claw the furniture when the cat has all their claws.

In order to teach your cats to NOT claw your furniture you will need these things:

1. Several rolls of masking tape (dollar store stuff, OK)

2. A tin can that is cleaned, some rocks place in it and tapped shut

3. A squirt bottle (esp. if you are older and not as mobile as your kitty!)

4. A scratching post or condo in a central location

You will want to take the kitty to the kitty scratching post and condo and gently rub their front feet on the approved kitty scratching area. This is instructive as well as begins to place their scent on the scratching post.

Whenever the kitty exhibits an interest or an action to scratch the furniture, shake the can with the rocks in it while sternly saying “NO!” The sound of the rocks will scare the kitty and reinforce that you do NOT want them sharpening their claws at that location.

Then make rolls of tape with the sticky side out from the masking tape and press them wherever the kitty has tried to scratch. Kitties do not like the tape sticking to their paws and will stop scratching. They may also cause the tape to come off. You will be replacing the tape balls frequently.

If your kitty is a tough case you can use a squirt bottle. Again squirt them with plain water while yelling “NO!” Kitties do not being squirted with water. I keep this method for a particularly hard case. My Lilly the Pad is just such a tough case. She doesn’t take instruction well at all.

You will need to do this until they stop scratching inappropriately. It should not take too long for most cats. Again, Lilly the Pad is a tough case and I have one chair that still has tape on the back of it after two years. Usually it takes only a few months. Mac 'Meister' figured it out very soon and has only sharpened his claws on the kitty condo for most of his life.

Now if you have a way to keep the kitty fur out of the computer keyboard, do let me know.


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    • NMLady profile image

      NMLady 5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      The Frog Prince LOL!!!

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Now I remember why I don't have a cat.

      Great Hub though.