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Stress-Free Tips to Help You Safely Trim Your Cat’s Claws

Dec 9 2022.

Trimming your cat’s claws may sound like a stressful experience for you and your kitty. However, it doesn’t have to be! Most felines can be trained to tolerate nail trimming, and some might even enjoy it. Not sure if you need to trim your cat’s claws? Cat in a Flat explains the best way to safely trim Mr Whiskers’ claws, and how to make it a stress-free experience for the both of you.  

Should you trim your cat’s claws? 

If your kitty spends time outdoors, they may naturally file down their nails by scratching trees and posts. But perhaps your feline is an indoor house cat. Even if you provide them with lots of cat trees around the home (and as a great paw parent, you should have multiple), this often isn’t enough to ensure Mr Whiskers’ claws stay a healthy length. 

Trimming your cat’s claws is an important part of keeping them happy and healthy. A quick trim can also help prevent your cat from scratching the furniture (or you!). On average, you should trim your indoor cat’s claws every few weeks. If your kitty is spending time outdoors, it’s possible to wait a week or two longer between trims. But, regardless of whether your fur friend is mostly outdoors or indoors, trimming their claws is a must. 

Should I have my cat’s claws removed?

You may be tempted to declaw your cat and avoid the hassle of clipping their claws altogether. However, this procedure can have a lasting negative impact. Although declawing is legal in the US, vets only recommend it in extreme circumstances, as it is a non-reversible procedure and offers no health benefits for your feline. 

By nature, our fur friends love to climb and scratch. Scratching is a form of stress-relief for cats and a way for them to mark their territory.  Hence, when you declaw a cat, it affects them both psychologically and physically. Not only will your kitty not be able to climb anymore, but it will affect how they walk and their ability to defend themselves (or feel safe). Declawing is a major surgery and can also result in chronic life-long pain for your cat. For this reason, declawing your cat should be the absolute last resort. 

How to trim my cat’s claws

Ideally, you would start training your cat to have their claws trimmed from the time they are a kitten. But, even if Mr Whiskers is an adult, you can still help your fur friend get used to the process. Here are a few tips to help make trimming your cat’s claws a pawsitive experience for you both. 


Always approach your cat to trim their claws when they are feeling relaxed or sleepy. This can be after they’ve eaten, or when you’re relaxing together at the end of the day. Cats sleep a lot, but you should never try to clip your furry friend’s nails while they’re snoozing. Your kitty can be easily startled when they’re asleep, and you don’t want to create a scary, negative association around claw trimming. 


Claw trimming should always take place in a quiet, calm location. If possible, carry your cat somewhere where they can comfortably sit on your lap while you trim their claws. Make sure you remove any potential household hazards for your cat. This includes closing all windows and doors in case your cat gets startled and injures themselves trying to escape. Also try to keep other pets away so your kitty doesn’t become distracted or tense. 


It’s possible your kitty dislikes when you touch their paws more than they would the actual trimming. Don’t wait until you need to trim your cat’s claws to get them used to having their paws touched. The next time your cat is sleeping on you, use it as an opportunity for some paw training:

  • Carefully hold one paw between your fingers and rub it gently for a few seconds. If your cat moves or pulls their paw away, gently repeat the gesture. 
  • Next, squeeze the paw so that one of Mr Whiskers’ claws extends. Let go and immediately reward your fur friend with a treat. 
  • Repeat two or three times every day until your kitty becomes accustomed to you handling their paws. 


Unfamiliar objects can make your kitty feel stressed, so be sure to leave the claw clippers out so your furry friend can investigate them. Allow your cat the space to sniff and become familiar with the claw clippers. You can even reward them with a treat to create a positive association. 

Once Mr Whiskers is relaxing in your lap and you’re ready to clip their claws, gently hold one of your cat’s paws between your finger and thumb. Gently apply pressure so the claws extend, then clip the very tip. Don’t cut them too short as this could hurt your cat. A good rule is to not cut close to the pink base of your kitty’s claws. Only cut the whitish tips. 

After you finish one paw, stop, and give your kitty a treat or play with your cat as a reward. Don’t try to trim all of your cat’s claws in one go as this can be stressful. Instead, do it over a period of days. 

Note: NEVER use your own nail trimmers to trim your kitty’s claws. Human nail clippers can be incredibly harmful for cats. Because of the shape and nature of their claws, you must purchase clippers specifically for felines. If you’re not sure which cat claw trimmers to get, ask your vet or your local pet store expert for some recommendations.

Can your cat sitter trim your cat’s claws?

Although cat sitters can offer a variety of services, trimming your cat’s claws generally isn’t included. Although your kitty and your cat sitter may have a great relationship, your cat sitter doesn’t spend nearly enough time around your cat to build up the trust needed to handle their paws or trim their claws. If you are going out of town and planning to hire a cat sitter, either trim your cat’s claws before you go or have a professional groomer do it for you. This is the least stressful option, not just for Mr Whiskers, but for you and your pet sitter too! 

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