Do’s and Don’ts When Clipping Your Cat’s Claws 

The following is a guest post from veterinary nurse Ellen Herrlin.

A few weeks ago I contributed a blog post on clipping dog nails. Today I’m discussing how to do the same for cats, which can be far less obedient than dogs. For the demonstration here I’m using Harry, our own house cat.

This frisky feline is Harry.
As you can see, he's a little anxious and it takes him a while to settle down.

Cats’ claws perform important functions, especially those of outdoor cats. The claws allow cats to climb and hunt, natural elements in an outdoor cat’s life. Therefore, I do not recommend cutting the claws on your outdoor cat. However, I do recommend keeping them trimmed on a regular basis. Bear in mind that a damaged claw can be painful and upsetting to your cat.

Older cats tend to use their claws less and less, so it is important to make sure they’re kept trimmed. Claws don’t stop growing and unfortunately it is common to see cats whose claws have grown too much. This can be extremely painful for the cat. It is our job as pet owners to make sure that it never gets so bad.

The pulp

Like dogs, cats have a tissue inside the claw that contains blood vessels and nerve endings.  This tissue is called the pulp and, in transparent claws, it looks like a pink strip.

Where cats are concerned the pulp is quite far back and is not as easy to hit when trimming claws as they are with dogs. But if you do hit the pulp it will hurt your cat, so it is good to know its approximate location.

Before you begin

It’s good to get cats used to having their claws trimmed from early age. You will need to do this regularly to keep them neat and tidy. The positive is that this is quite a straightforward task as long as your cat is fairly amenable.

Claw Scissor

Before starting, make sure you have a small, smooth and sharp claw-scissor. If you are worried about damaging the pulp and causing bleeding, you can invest in a product called “Blood Stop” which helps blood to clot rapidly. Without this it may take some time to stop bleeding if you cut the pulp, so let’s try to avoid this!


Some cats submit voluntarily to having their claws clipped while others are a little more difficult. One tip is to start clipping the cat’s claws while it is sleeping. Squeeze the paws and be quick, but calm, with the claw scissors.

It can be easier to do this while the cat is relaxing in on the lap or in the knee. Practice often by squeezing and feeling the paws. Remember to keep calm all the time so you don’t disturb the cat.

To access the claws, lightly push your fingers under/behind the paddles.

When both you and your cat are calm it’s time to start. Lightly and methodically cut one claw at a time. If you can see the pulp, it will be quite fast and easy. If the cat’s claws are darker in colour you can use a flashlight to locate the pulp so you don’t hit it. Don’t worry so much about the narrow, pointed part of the claw as it does not contain any pulp.

You and your cat need to be calm so it does not result in a stressful situation for either of you.

For some cats it’s a good idea to get them a treat so they’re get in a good mood. Then they pay less attention to what you are doing and focus on the tasty treat.

Pretty soon you’ll be trimming your cat’s claws, making your cat comfortable and happy, and making you feel very pleased with yourself.

Ellen is a veterinary nurse who also runs a fantastic blog which is full of great advice for pet owners. You can find it here: If you like what you read don’t forget to share this article and subscribe for more!

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