Cat's claws.

Claw maintenance is just one of those things in the world of cat ownership that you really can’t ignore. Like human nails, your cat’s claws will keep growing until they either break or grow into their paw pad (ouch!). And, if your cat is like the ones we know and love, they probably spend a good amount of time every day sharpening their claws into little razors. We understand the trepidation, but trimming your cat’s claws doesn’t have to be stressful, scary, or painful. Without tips and tricks, the experience can be easy and fun!

Characteristics of Claws

Cats have retractable claws that are controlled ligaments and tendons in the paws. When these muscles tense up, the claws come out of their relaxed state tucked inside the fur around each tow. Made of keratin (the same material as our own hair and nails), your cat’s claws are surrounded by sheaths that fall off and regrow over time.

When your cat scratches their post, your couch arms, or the carpet, they dig their claws in to get a great stretch throughout the feet, legs, and back. This action also releases pheromones from the feet that mark their territory, and of course, sharpens their claws.

Your cat’s claws are designed to help them climb, but are equally impressive as hunting tools and self-defense weapons. 

Trimming Your Cat’s Claws

Invest in the best possible tool for the job. Your clippers should be lightweight, easy to hold, and sharp. Some are designed with an element that inhibits cutting too much of the claw.

If your cat is still relatively young, don’t delay in training them to accept this type of attention. If it’s a quick, painless, and positive experience, they will recognize and accept future trimmings. 

  • Choose a time when your cat is relaxed. 
  • Keep the healthy treats handy and offer them to your cat to help them associate the task with something they like.
  • Wrap them in a towel or blanket to keep them from pushing out of your embrace (or scratching you in the process).
  • Grabbing hold of one paw, push the claw out of one toe at a time. 
  • Aim the clippers at a perpendicular angle. 
  • Make quick, decisive cuts, taking extra care not to cut too close to the quick.
  • The quick is the whitish triangle inside the base of the claw. It is full of nerves and blood.
  • If you cut the quick, apply styptic powder to the cut to help seal the cut. 

A Trial Run

If your cat says “nope!” when you try the above, rehearse the activity without trimming their nails. Get them used to being held, having their feet touched, and give them lots of praise and rewards. 

Over time, you should be able to introduce the clippers to them. Trim one claw at a time, pausing at length between toes. Slowly move through all the toes on one side of the body before switching to the other side. 

Special Ritual

Indoor cats should have their claws trimmed about every 10-14 days because they are less likely to be exposed to rougher surfaces found outdoors. 

If you need extra assistance regarding your cat’s claws, please give us a call at (404) 792-0700. We offer grooming services on-site and would be happy to take a look at those paws! Your friends at Cat Care of Vinings are always here for your cat.