As we all know, out cats are wild animals. Humans have domesticated them over time but they still have wild features to help them survive among other wild animals and hunt for food.

One of these wild attributes are long, sharp nails which can help them climb and also slice through prey or your hand on accident!

To prevent such accidents, I keep my cat’s nails short.  There is a safe and easy way to do it correctly! If you have outdoor cats, this may not be recommended and is purely an opinion matter, however I have indoor cats whom do not have to defend themselves against the unknowns a kitty encounters outdoors.

You can always go to the vet or a groomer and have them trim their nails down, or you can learn to do it yourself. At home self trimming has several benefits such as calming your kitty by not taking them out of the house, for a drive and into the arms of a stranger.

Your cat is most comfortable at home with you and would rather have you perform treatments similar to a Mommy to her child. Another benefit is the money you can save by at home trimming as opposed to a groomer who may charge one dollar per nail or more!

To start, you need a nail trimmer. If you have a kitten with teeny nails you can use a human nail clipper, but if you have a cat of around a year or older, you should use a real pair of cat nail trimmers which you can find at most stores. The pet nail trimmer is a sort of scissors that has 2 curved blades that cross when you close them- as if to cut.  It works similar to a very small guillotine.

So lets start by looking at your cat’s nails. Animals will be in the submissive pose when on their back so I usually like to start with cradling my cat like a baby and lowering them into my lap. My legs support their back and hind legs so I can use my available hand to look at their paws.

If you cat is uncomfortable in this position, it may require practice and lots of trust for them to hold still in this position. If you find that you can have access to their paw in another position that works better for you then great. As always, a little tummy petting and sweet talking works wonders.

When you are able to clearly see all pads of the foot, place your thumb and pointer finger on either side of their paw (I find it better with my thumb on top) and place your fingers right behind their knuckle, which will be the bump behind the nail- there is a groove right there.

Now you move your fingers as if you were rubbing them together, pushing your pointer finger back towards your palm. This will move the cat’s nails out further than normal.  This is not painful to the cat. If the nails do not protract you may apply a bit of pressure but only slightly.

Then you need to touch and feel the cats nails while looking at the color changes. The cats nail covering is clear and you can see the pink blood vessels called the quik- make sure to stay clear away from this area. If you were to accidentally cut the quik, the cat will bleed and most likely meow harshly at you.

It is not the worst thing to happen, but just as you cut your nail too short, you feel pain and will bleed. There is a product called quik stop that contains styptic powder which immediately stops the bleeding.

Start the cutting process by touching your cat’s nails with the trimmer and getting them used to the feeling of metal against their nail. Scrape or tap until they seem to not be interested any longer, usually they will want to smell or even rub against the trimmer which is good. Then open the scissors, or the clippers and bring it about one or two millimeters back from the point and cut.

Be sensitive to your cat’s feelings and maintain dominance while still sweet talking and being careful. The first time you cut, it is not as important that you cut off so much as it is important that they are ok with the process and have a pleasant experience. The more you cut their nails, the more you trim off and the faster it will go.

Be careful not to cut too much off or cut on an angle that could cause splintering of the nail. It may seem like a scary process, but it is only awkward the first few times. I have cut my cat’s nails every other week for the last two years and they just sit still while I go from one paw to the next. This process prevents them from breaking nails painfully or damaging anything in the house including me!

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