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Caring for Your Cat's Nails


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Regular grooming is a part of responsible cat ownership, and this includes taking care of your pet's nails. Toenails that are allowed to grow too long can puncture a cat's foot or get snagged and be pulled off. Both conditions are very painful. Long toenails also increase the risk that a cat will scratch a person badly or cause damage around the house. Cats that have their nails trimmed regularly are less likely to have to go through a painful, expensive, and controversial declaw surgery.

How to Trim Your Cat's Nails

Many owners are intimidated by the thought of trimming their cat's toenails, but it's not very difficult. First, get yourself a good tool. A sharp, new nail trimmer is much easier to use and puts less pressure on the sensitive parts of a cat's nail. Many different types of nail trimmers are available, but nail scissors are often a good choice for cats.

"If all else fails, make an appointment with a groomer or veterinarian to get your cat's nails trimmed."

Next, get your cat used to having her feet handled. Some cats seem to be very sensitive in this area, so start by making it a pleasant experience for everyone. Sit with your cat, pet her, and gradually move down her leg to her feet. Praise her or even give her a treat when she lets you play with her paws and wiggle her nails without pulling away. If after multiple attempts this type of training does not work, you might need to consider giving your cat something to help with anxiety.

Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder

Know the anatomy of a feline toenail. The part farthest from the foot does not have any blood vessels or nerves and so clipping in this area is not painful. But, if you move far enough back on the nail, you will hit the quick. This does hurt and can bleed, very much like pulling or breaking your fingernail back too far, but it is not the end of the world. Have some Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder or a styptic pencil on hand to stop the bleeding just in case. Cat nails are generally pretty clear so you should be able to see the triangular, pink quick inside. Clip the nail a few millimeters away from there.

If you just can't bring yourself to use a nail trimmer, you can use a file or grinder. You still need to be careful to avoid the quick, but because these tools remove the nail more gradually, they can be less intimidating. Files are also good to smooth out the edges of a nail cut with trimmers.

If all else fails, make an appointment with a groomer or veterinarian to get your cat's nails trimmed. There is nothing wrong with letting someone else be the "bad guy" if nail trims are just too traumatic for you and your cat.


The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of your pet. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners.