If you have an indoor cat, trimming his nails is a good idea Long claws snag in carpets, furniture and clothing and potentially hurt your pet. Sharp claws also cause serious injury to humans – the bacteria present on cats’ nails can cause cat scratch disease which may spread through the whole body (source).
In this article I’ll share some tips for keeping your cat’s claws neat and tidy and take a look at some of the best cat nail clippers for the job.
Which type of nail trimmer is best for cats?
There are a few different tools you can use to clip your cat’s nails; my personal favorite is the scissors style clipper which opens and closes like a scissors but has a curved, sharp tip. Your other options are the guillotine style clipper where you insert the claw into a small opening and the blade comes down on it, and an electric dremel or grinder which files down the nail like an emery board.
Make sure you choose a clipper that’s the right size for your cat – usually small or medium. There are also clippers for large dogs which of course aren’t suitable for smaller animals.
Look for clippers made from stainless steel as they stay sharp for longer; if the blade is dull, your cat’s nail will bend painfully instead of being cut cleanly.
Because clippers are so sharp, they can be dangerous. To prevent accidents, go for a design with safety features like rubber grips on the handles and a guard. The guard protects your cat from injuries because you can only cut very small lengths at a time.
***Scissors style nail clipper***
As for construction, the blade is curved stainless steel which is sharp on both sides and should cleanly slice through your pet’s claws. It also has an ergonomic design and rub rubber grips on the handles. Along with the guard and the fact that it can lock closed when you’re not using it, in my opinion the Safari 770045 has pretty much everything you want in a nail clippers for your cat. It comes in two sizes – the small/medium is suitable for cats.
As for negatives, if the blade becomes dull it can squash the cat’s nail rather than slicing through it, leading to splitting. The same is true for all clippers with blades so if this is something your pet is particularly prone to you might want to consider getting a dremel which I’ll discuss later on.
|Scissors design easy to use
||Can leave rough edges
|Rubber non-slip handle
||Can split or crush nails when blades lose sharpness
|Stainless steel blade
***Guillotine style nail clipper***
The second claw clipper we have is the guillotine type – there’s a small opening for the cat’s nail and when you have it in position you bring the blade down on it like a guillotine. I find this type of clipper more difficult to use than the scissors. If your cat doesn’t stay still during clipping (I’m looking at you Sansa), it can take some time to get through 10 or 20 nails.
JW‘s nail clippers is well build and ergonomically designed with rubber handle grips. The blade is made from hardened steel for a long life. One downside is that it doesn’t come with a guard. For this reason, I only recommend it for experienced users.
|Rubber non-slip handle||Can leave rough edges|
|Ergonomic design||Can split or crush nails when blades lose sharpness|
|Good precision||Wriggling cat can easily move claw away from blade|
|Technique can take some practice|
| No guard
***Electric grinder for cat nails***
The Dremel 7300-PT is one of the most popular dremels for cat nails; it’s a battery powered tool with a rotating sanding drum attached to an electric handle. The drum spins and when you place it in contact with the nail, it files it down effortlessly leaving a smooth surface. If your cats have extra tough nails or you’re nervous using a blade on your pet – a dremel or grinder is a good alternative.
The Dremel 7300-PT has two different rotation speeds so you can use the slower one at first to avoid trimming too short and causing injury. It’s also cordless so your cat won’t get all tangled up in the cable while you’re trying to use it.
One disadvantage with using a dremel is that it gets hot due to friction. It takes some practice to get the right technique. Sometimes the noise and vibration can scare your pet.
|Gives nails smooth finish
||The sound may scare nervous cats|
|Can work more slowly than blade clippers
|| Can get hot during use
|Easy to use
|Can replace sanding drums
|Good for tough cat nails|
How to trim your cat’s nails
Clipping your cat’s nails at home may seem like a daunting task but it does get easier with practice. If you’ve never done it before, it might be worth bringing him to the groomer or vet to have it done for the first time; they will be able to demonstrate the correct technique. However, getting your cat groomed on a regular basis can be expensive and stressful for pets so there’s no reason why you can’t continue to do it at home on a regular basis.
The video below from vet Dr Courtney Campbell will tell you everything you need to know about trimming your cat’s nails. It includes a demonstration of the three types of clippers and what to do if you accidentally cut the cat’s paw. Definitely worth a watch.
The most important rule is never cut the cat’s quick – the pink part of the nail which contains nerves and blood vessels. If you do, it will bleed and hurt your cat. When this happens, use styptic powder to stop the bleeding quickly. Make sure he doesn’t lick the wound and don’t continue cutting the rest of the nails as he will associate it with the pain. When you’re done, make sure to give kitty a treat to reward his good behavior.
If your cat particularly hates having his nails cut and tries to escape or scratch you, try rolling him in a towel. This is known as the “burrito method” of nail clipping! Release a single paw from the towel and clip the nails – he won’t be able to use the other limbs to scratch you. Long term, however, it’s best to train your cat to accept trimming by using treats.
One caveat – you shouldn’t trim the nails of an outdoor cat; they’re needed to climb and defend themselves against attack.
How often should you cut your cat’s nails?
Generally, it’s recommended to trim your cat’s nails every two weeks to one month (source). My cats’ nails grow super fast so I need to do it more often. Take a look at the nail and it should be obvious whether it needs trimming. When the nail tip is very sharp or the nail is splitting or flaking, it needs to be cut.