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Kitten Nail Trimming

May 23, 2016

Cats scratch to maintain the necessary claw motion used in hunting and climbing. Scratching is a natural behavior that also grooms the claws and leaves scent markers on the objects. Scratching removes the outer sheath of the nail to expose the new growth inside. Your cat’s nails will become sharp and will need to be trimmed every few weeks or so depending on how quickly they grow.

Teaching your kitten to tolerate having his nails trimmed early in life will make the task much easier as he becomes an adult.

Here are a few tips on how to expose your kitten to routine nail trims.

Routinely hold your kitten in your lap, arm over his body while handling his feet, gently squeezing the top of his toe between thumb and forefinger to retract the nail, release the toe and immediately feed a treat. Do this daily, one toe at a time. Try to do this when the kitten is tired, not when he is in a rambunctious playful mood.


Find a clipper you are comfortable with. There are several different varieties. I prefer a regular human nail clipper that you can purchase at any retail store. Make sure it is sharp, as a dull clipper can shred the nail instead of cutting it clean.


Once he is comfortable with you touching and retracting his nails begin getting him used to the sound of the clipper. Let him sniff the clipper, cut your own nails near him to get him used to the noise, again offering treats and praise.

The blood supply and nerves located within the pink colored area at the base of the nail is called the “quick”. You want to cut only the white part of the nail, approximately 2mm within the quick to avoid bleeding and pain. It is always better to be cautious and cut less than risk cutting into the quick. Keep a styptic powder such as”Kwik Stop” on hand to stop any bleeding if you happen to cut the nail too short. You can also use corn starch. If you are using human nail clippers, turn the clippers 90 degrees and then cut. This helps prevent splintering of the nail.

IMG_0690IMG_0683Trim as many nails as possible in one sitting.  You may only be able to do a few nails each time but stop before the cat runs away and has had enough. The rear nails won’t need to be trimmed as often as the front, evaluate and trim as necessary.

If you are having trouble or getting frustrated trimming your cat’s nails, please speak with one of our staff members, we are happy to guide you through the process.


Contributed by Anna Preiner, CVT Grand Avenue Veterinary Center

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