I try to keep my cats' claws trimmed to reduce wear and tear on the furniture (and me :-) ). They also have scratching posts and "pads" that they use regularly, but that's not enough.

My problem is that my vision isn't so great, particularly for close work. Since I need to look longer and more closely at the claw to make sure I'm nowhere near the quick, I can usually only clip three or four nails before the cat squirms away (try again tomorrow). I'd like to improve my efficiency without harming the cats.

I can think of two areas of variability: different ways to hold the cat, and different tools. I currently hold the cat in my lap, with the cat-holding hand over the cat's back and then around to hold the paw (I'm talking about for a front paw here), to try to force the cat between my body and my arm. As for tools, I'm currently using clippers kind of like these, which I can slide over the nail and (once positioned) just squeeze to clip. I've tried small scissors and they seem to be harder to use, but maybe there are better and worse types.

How can I improve on this, so that I can more quickly and reliably clip nails of reluctant cats?

  • From the image, I assume that what you're using are human toenail clippers. That's what I use too; I've tried various cat toenail clippers, but I find them harder to use. You probably don't have to cut off as much as you think. I find that just taking off the very tip (where the claw narrows suddenly) is enough to satisfy my cat so she doesn't feel the need to scratch inappropriate items.
    – mhwombat
    Jul 2, 2014 at 21:00
  • It sounds like you're only doing the front claws, which is good. The back claws are usually blunt, and are unlikely to damage anything.
    – mhwombat
    Jul 2, 2014 at 22:05
  • Yeah, I'm focusing on the ones that do the most damage. If I can get back claws occasionally then great, but that's not the priority. Jul 2, 2014 at 22:07
  • Use clippers designed for cats if you can. The ones you show, designed for humans, have a tendency to split their claws.
    – Kai
    Jul 19, 2016 at 18:27

3 Answers 3


So, some advice from someone who had to clip the claws of an ornery Tortoise Shell cat as well as a few bunnies that can kick like the blazes...

  1. Don't let the cat tell you when to stop. You need to demonstrate that the clipping is done when you decide that it is done, no sooner.

  2. Use a magnifying glass like the big reading ones on their own pedestal or a magnifying mirror to help guide you.

  3. Have some styptic handy when you do make a bad clip. It happens, don't beat yourself up over it, just help bring it to a stop for your furry friend as fast as possible.

  4. Wrap him/her up in a kitty burrito. Nothing like a towel to bring some of the fuss under control to allow you to get it done. It's especially useful for squirmy cats and bunnies.


One thing I've noticed with the cats is that if they have proper scratching surfaces, they'll remove the outer (older) nail surfaces more efficiently, which makes the shape of the claw easier to see (and easier to figure out where to cut).

enter image description here

In the top picture, the cat still has the older, outer cuticle surfaces attached (hasn't scratched them off, or the claw hasn't matured enough yet). In the bottom picture, the outer surfaces have come off, and the shape of the claw is more "moon" shaped.

In the second case, I don't really need to find the quick, because I know it's not in the really skinny part of the claw and I can just tip it off. This makes claw cutting faster (which is easier on the cat).

I don't worry about removing as much claw as I possibly can, instead I try to do quick trims to remove the nail tips every week. Quick trims are less stressful for the cats and also ensure that I get to do a regular "health and wellness" check on our shy cat.

  • Oh! Thanks; that's a really good point. I've seen claws in both those states but hadn't realized what the difference was. (They do have, and use, both vertical and horizontal scratchers, but I guess I need to get them to do more of that.) Jul 2, 2014 at 15:26
  • If you do it every week, as Zarlynda suggests, you'll probably find that half the claws are still blunt, so you only have a few pointy claws to clip.
    – mhwombat
    Jul 2, 2014 at 22:03

I just discovered these clippers for cats' nails, which are supposed to be good for the visually impaired (and anyone, for that matter). That reminded me of this question, so I dug it up to add this information. I haven't tried the product myself, but I have seen two good reviews:

Reviews: http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/my-cat-bubba-gets-a-nail-trim-with-the-zen-clipper http://www.floppycats.com/cat-nail-clippers-for-blind-people.html

Where to buy: http://www.zenclipper.com/buy-now Also available on Amazon

And this may sound weird, but have you tried filing the nails? After all, you only need to blunt the tip slightly. I have no idea how a cat would react to it, but it seems worth a try. I would try filing outward from the paw rather than side to side, as that would be a more natural scratching motion.

If these clippers aren't available to you, consider the advice in [this answer].1


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.