How to Manage Your Cat’s Claws

Your cat’s claws are her favorite tools, useful in climbing, grooming, hunting, self-defense and playing. Your job is to help keep her claws in good shape, by trimming them periodically and providing opportunities for your cat to sharpen them on sturdy, immovable scratching posts.

Let’s start with trimming your cat’s claws, using a human toenail trimmer or a cat claw trimmer. Choose a time when you and your cat are relaxed. Wrap your left arm around your cat and hold her front paw in your left hand, so you can clip with your right hand.* Place your left thumb on top of your cat’s toe and your forefinger beneath it. Gently squeeze to expose the claw.

When you look at the claw from the side, you’ll see the pink “quick” inside – and the curved hook that forms the end of the claw. With the trimmer in your right hand, cut off the claw’s hook. Avoid the quick to prevent discomfort. Pet and praise your cat as you trim each claw.

If you prefer to trim claws only occasionally, fit your cat with plastic claw caps like Soft Paws. To use them, trim your cat’s claws, apply a bit of the supplied glue to the inside of each cap and slide the cap onto the claw. Cuddle your cat for several minutes while the glue dries. As the claws grow over the next four to six weeks, the nail caps will drop off and you’ll need to repeat the process.

It’s also important to offer your cat scratching posts, because scratching is a normal cat behavior. The posts should be at least three feet high, so your cat can stretch while she scratches. It’s best to situate some posts vertically and others horizontally. The
scratching posts must be stable, because cats don’t like posts that totter. Entice your cat to use each post by rubbing catnip on the surface and flicking a feather toy against it.

*If you are left-handed, reverse these directions: Hold your cat with your right arm and clip with your left hand.