By Marva Marrow

Get your kitten used to getting a "kitty manicure", otherwise known as nail clipping, when she is young. Make it a calm, weekly routine and most cats will enjoy (or at least tolerate!) the few moments of undivided attention.

Nail clipping is absolutely essential before a bath. Your furniture and clothing will also benefit from regularly performing this quick and simple procedure. Nails that are kept clipped short don't grow into wicked looking talons!

Claw ClippersMost cats enjoy a gentle massage of their paws. This is a preamble to nail clipping and a good way to examine the state of the claws and pawpads. Gently hold or stroke the paw, rubbing your fingers between the toes. Sometimes the cat will actually spread her toes for you so you can massage between each toe! Hold your forefinger on the pad side and softly rub your thumb on top of the paw in a circular motion.

Purchase an inexpensive pair of cat nail clippers from a pet supply store. Nail clipping is best done in a quiet place without distractions, such as the bathroom, with the door closed (sitting on the closed toilet is what we prefer!). Sit the cat on your lap or place her on a counter, facing away from you and gently but firmly grasp the paw. Press the pad and toe between your thumb and forefinger until the retracted claw is exposed.

Clip only the white, curved tip of the nail. Do not clip the pink part where the vein lies inside the quick. If you clip the nails at a 90 degree angle (parallel to the floor), there is less risk of them splitting. Don't forget to clip the dew claw nail on the inside ankle. The back claws usually need just the very tips clipped.

The Cat Claw

Do not let the cat out of the room until you have finished the whole clipping routine, even if she squirms and yells. Be consistent, firm, patient and reassuring and don't let that little kittycat push you around!


Veterinarian Dr. Christianne Schelling and Charlie the cat show you how to trim your cat's claws.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marva Marrow is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (IAABC: International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants) with more than 30 years of experience. Her feline behavior business, The Kitty Kouch aids veterinarians, shelters, rescue groups and private clients. She is a frequent contributor and consultant to Cat Fancy and Animal Awareness magazines and to nationally syndicated newspapers. Marva breeds, shows and shares her home with her Oriental Shorthair cats. She may be reached at

Graphic illustration courtesy of Teresa Keiger.


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