Article at a Glance…
- There are three types of cat nail clippers – scissors style (my pick: Safari 770045), guillotine style (my pick: JW Pet) and the electric dremel (my pick: Dremel 7300-PT)
- Trimming your cat’s claws regularly prevents injury (to you and kitty).
- You should trim your cat’s nails every 2 – 4 weeks, or when you notice them getting sharp.
If you have an indoor cat, the idea of trimming his nails has probably popped into your head. Our first cat loved scratching me until we trained her properly. I had scratches all over my neck and chest, which lead to some weird questions at work. Let’s just say I couldn’t keep my status as a crazy cat lady a secret after that (if the cat hairs all over my office chair didn’t give it away!).
In fact, there are lots of other good reasons why you should trim your cat’s nails. I’ll explain everything you need to know about the topic and how to choose the best cat nail clippers.
Why should you trim your cat’s nails?
Dr. Courtney Campbell of The Pet Collective explains that when your cats are untrimmed, they pose a risk to both pet and owner. Long and sharp claws easily snag in carpets, furniture and clothing. Not only will this damage your home, but the cat may not be able to release himself and can twist his toe causing injury. Longer nails are also prone to breaking, again leading to pain for your pet.
As I’ve already mentioned, sharp cat nails can cause serious injury to humans. The consequences are more than just a light scratch. The unique bacteria present on cats’ nails can cause so-called “cat-scratch disease” which can affect the whole body (source). Children are particularly vulnerable as their immune systems aren’t as developed and they may not be appropriately cautious around animals.
The only case when it’s not advised to trim your cat’s nails is if he’s an outdoor cat. Outdoor cats need long sharp nails to climb and defend themselves against attack.
Never declaw your cat
Hopefully I shouldn’t need to say this but never have your cat declawed. Declawing has been banned in many countries. The Humane Society of the United States opposes declawing except in rare cases for medical purposes e.g. removal of cancerous nail bed tumors (source).
In the past, a common misconception was that declawing was a harmless procedure like a human manicure. This isn’t true. Traditional declawing involves the amputation of the last bone of the cat’s toe! I shudder at the thought of it. On a human, it’s comparable to cutting off the finger at the last knuckle. After the procedure your cat could suffer from infection, lameness, difficulty walking, back pain and trouble using the litter box.
Declawing is completely unnecessary as it’s quite easy to train your cat to allow trimming. That’s enough on that horrible topic, let’s move to something more positive 🙂 .
The advantages of trimming your cat’s nails at home
It’s worth bringing your cat to the groomer or vet to have his nails trimmed for the first time. But there’s no reason why you can’t continue to do it at home. A groomer or vet will be able to demonstrate the correct technique. There are plenty of videos on YouTube where you can also learn. Getting your cat groomed on a regular basis can be expensive and stressful for some pets. Professional cat nail clippers can be purchased online and with a little practice, both owner and pet should get used to it.
What to look for in a good cat nail clippers
There are generally three types of cat nail trimmers. These are scissors type – opening and closing like a scissors but with a curved, sharp tip. Guillotine type clippers are also available – you insert the claw into a small opening and the blade comes down on it guillotine-style. And finally you have dremels to grind down the cat’s nails. These are completely different and file down the nail like an emery board, but electric. Here are a few other important factors to consider when choosing the a nail clippers for your cat.
It’s important that the clipper you choose is extremely sharp. If the blade is dull, your cat’s nail will bend painfully instead of being cut cleanly. Stainless steel clippers stay sharp for longer so this is the ideal material for the blade.
Some clippers are designed for a variety of pets including cats, dogs and rabbits. Obviously large dogs need large clippers but this wouldn’t be the right choice for most cats. Choose a small or medium-small design for your cat.
As cat nail clippers need to be very sharp this makes them dangerous to both you and your pet. Choose a nail clipper with rubber grips on the handles as a slip up can lead to a bleeding paw or finger. Another way to ensure that you don’t injure your cat is to use a cat nail clippers with guard. This means you can only cut very small lengths at a time so are unlikely to cause damage.
My cat nail clippers reviews
Personally, my favorite type of cat nail clippers is the scissors type. It’s easy to use – because hey, we’ve all used a scissors – and I have a good level of control with it. However, all three types have their fans. The best thing to do is try one and see how you like it. They’re not incredibly expensive
Scissors Cat Nail Clippers
Safari is one of the big brands when it comes to cat grooming. They also made my top pick for the best cat brush. The Safari cat nail clippers is a scissors-type nail clipper with a stainless steel blade, a safety guard and rubber grips on the handles. This is pretty much everything you want in a nail clippers for your cat. It also locks closed when you’re not using it. Two sizes are available but the smallest is most appropriate for a cat.
Guillotine Cat Nail Clippers
If you want to try a guillotine nail clipper, the Deluxe Nail Trimmer for Cats from JW Pet Company is a good choice. It has an ergonomic design 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.
What about a Dremel for cat nails?
If your cats have extra tough nails, or you’re nervous using a blade – a dremel to grind down the nails is a good alternative. What is a dremel? It works like a nail file. The dremel is made up of a 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. It’s extremely popular, especially with dog owners.
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.
If you do decide to go with a grinder, I think the best dremel for cat nails is the Pet Nail Grooming Tool. It has two rotation speeds so you can use the slower one at first to avoid trimming too short. It’s also cordless so your cat won’t get all tangled up in the cable while you’re trying to use it.
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 sometimes 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.
As I’ve already mentioned, if you have an outdoor cat, you shouldn’t trim his nails. He needs them for climbing and self-defense, unlike his indoor counterparts.
How to trim your cat’s nails
Make sure the cat is relaxed during trimming. If you create a negative association, your cat will run away every time he sees the clippers coming out. My cat Saus seems to have a very long memory! If possible, have someone else pet and reassure the cat while you cut his nails. Put the cat on your lap or a stable surface and take one paw into your hand. Gently squeeze the top and bottom to extend the claws.
The most important rule is never cut the cat’s quick. This is 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. Only cut the clear part of the nail and go slowly so that you don’t cut too much. 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! We used to do this with Saus. Release a single paw from the towel and clip the nails. The cat 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. Saus didn’t enjoy the burrito towel and now she is much more chilled when having her nails trimmed. Even if you can only cut one at a time, that’s enough to get your cat used to it.
An Awesome Video
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. He’s known on YouTube as “the hot vet”, if that helps convince you 😛
I hope this article has helped you choose a good cat nail clippers and taught you a little bit about when and how to to use them. If you have a favorite product that I haven’t mentioned, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.