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How To Clip Your Cat's Claws

Updated on July 20, 2014

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Why Clip Your Cat's Claws?

The most common reason that people desire to clip their cat's claws is because cats love to scratch on almost everything. From the wooden legs to your fine solid oak furniture to the plush fabric of your expensive living room suite to the fibers in your brand new carpeting cats love to regularly sharpen their claws on all such things. Many cats even having a custom build scratch post prefer to use their owner's household furnishings. If your cat's claws are not clipped, sooner or later your furniture will likely show the scars so regularly clipping your cat's claws will save you some disappointment in the end. Some people get their cats declawed for this very reason, but that is a painful experience for the animal, because the operation removes the claw bed at the first knuckle of the cat's toe, and one that is not necessary if you are willing to do the job of clipping your cat's claws regularly. The process only requires a few minutes of your time and the technique is quite easy to learn.

Clipping Your Cat's Claws

Do Not Clip The Claw Bed

Be sure to see the claw and the claw bed clearly before clipping.
Be sure to see the claw and the claw bed clearly before clipping.

The Only Tool You Will Need

For clipping your cat's claws the only tool that you require is an inexpensive pair of claw clippers. This tool is made very simplistic so it has no depth gage like a dog claw clipper so you will want to exercise extreme caution when using them. Without a depth gage you have to visually see the cat's claw bed or "quick" , making absolutely certain that the blade of the clipper is only on the claw and not touching the claw bed before clipping. Otherwise you can easily cut into the claw bed and hurt your cat which will likely make your cat not want to cooperate in the claw clipping process in future clippings.

Three Step Process

Expose the cat's claw and check to be certain that the clipping tool is not on the claw bed and clip the claw.
Expose the cat's claw and check to be certain that the clipping tool is not on the claw bed and clip the claw.

Exposing The Cat's Claws

Getting your cat to expose its claws is very easy. If your cat will sit quietly on your lap and let you hold its front paw in your hand, then you are off to a good start. If your cat is a little bit unsure of what is taking place and is a little flighty, you may want to have someone else help you hold the cat steady. Because you want to exercise caution when doing the actual clipping of the claw you will want the cat to be as still as possible. Once the cat is sitting quietly take its one front paw in your hand opposite the clipping hand and with your index finger underneath the paw and your thumb on the top side of the paw apply slight pressure. As you apply pressure your cat will extend all of its claws on that paw and you can then see clearly to do the clipping.

Exposing The Claws

With you index finger under the paw and thumb on top apply slight pressure and your cat will expose its claws.
With you index finger under the paw and thumb on top apply slight pressure and your cat will expose its claws.

Once you have gotten your cat to expose its claws you will be able to clearly see the quick or the claw bed of the claw. Slide your clippers up close to the claw bed, leaving a little space between the quick and the clipper's cutting edge - now snip. You have successfully clipped one claw. Repeat the entire process over again on all of the remaining claws of the paw. When you become comfortable with the clipping process the procedure takes less than a minute to complete all four toes and the dew claw of one paw.

Clipping The Dewclaw

With the cat's leg lying in the palm of your hand use your thumb and index finger to secure the dewclaw.
With the cat's leg lying in the palm of your hand use your thumb and index finger to secure the dewclaw.

The Dewclaw

Just above the ankle of your cat's paw is located another claw on the inside of its leg. This fifth claw is referred to as the dewclaw and you will want to clip that one as well. The dewclaw is always exposed so you can just pinch the skin of the cat's leg behind the dewclaw between your thumb and index finger to secure the claw and then snip away. Cats seldom scratch at furnishings with their back paws so I do not bother to clip the claws of their hind legs, but if you desire to do so the procedure is the very same as on the front legs.

Clipping YUour Cat's Claws

Your cat will love you for it.
Your cat will love you for it.

How Often Do You Need To Clip Your Cat's Claws

Most cats after having their claws clipped will not bother scratching in an attempt to sharpen them for a few weeks. As the claws begin to get some length back then the cat will once again start scratching. However, when the cat first begins scratching again their claw will be too dull to do much damage so you can ignore them. But between two to four weeks time the cat's claw will eventually start to get sharp again and just before they can do any damage it is time to clip their claws once again. Every three to four weeks is likely the optimum time for re-clipping your cat's claws - it only takes a few minutes. Keeping your cat's claws clipped will help you keep your fine furnishings looking their best for a lot longer. Learning to clip your cat's claw is an investment of time that pays back huge dividends.

Questions or Comments

I welcome all your questions and comments as well as any suggestions or ideas of your own. Please contact me through any of my links with any input that you desire to contribute. I enjoy hearing from everyone.

Thank you

How To Pam


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    • Pamela Bush profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Trisha you can do this. The technique is quite easy and if you start now with your 7 month old kitty, you both can train together. After a couple of sessions your kitty will sit still like a pro while you clip the claws. Cats are generally easier to train when they are young.

    • Trisha Roberts profile image

      Trisha Roberts 

      4 years ago from Rensselaer, New York

      This is a great hub. My cat is a playful biter (She's about 7 months old). I'm a bit to scared to attempt this myself, but I may try it. I know it would be saving money going back and forth to the vets to get it done lol. Thanks for sharing this very helpful hub. :)

    • Pamela Bush profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Hi FlourishAnyway;

      Yes; some cats can be a real handful if they choose not to cooperate. Some professionals suggest putting the cat inside a 6 or 8 inch diameter tube, like a short section of stove pipe, so that they cannot move around too much. Once secured inside the tube with their front paws protruding out the one end of the tube and their rear paws protruding out of the other end trimming the claws is much easier.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Not my favorite task! I have a deaf cat who is also mildly retarded and it takes both my husband and I to clip his nails. We can only do 2-3 at a time and you would think we were killing the poor little guy. Our other cats are pretty good about it, typically the older ones. Especially if you do it regularly it should be no big deal.


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