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No-Fuss Cat Nail Clipping

The Martha Stewart Show, January 2010

Clipping a cat's nails is tricky for a number of reasons:

  • Pound for pound, cats are much stronger than we are.
  • A cat will rarely submit in a confrontational situation -- its reaction is fight or flight.
  • We really don't have enough hands to restrain the cat, unsheathe the nails, and trim them.

Trying to clip your kitty's nails by yourself can be a tall order, especially if your furry friend is frisky, says pet expert Marc Morrone. For best results, enlist a partner and follow these steps.

Kitty Nail Clipping How-To
1. Have your partner place a heavy towel on her lap, and lay the cat down next to her, facing away from her body.

2. Pet and stroke the cat for a while so that he feels comfortable. Then, cover him with a towel so that the whole kitty is covered -- including the head.

3. Have your partner place her weight on the covered cat so that it is immobile under the towel.

4. Pull out one paw at a time from under the towel and gently push out each nail so that it is unsheathed. Then, cut the clear part of the nail with the nail trimmer. (Cats have five toes on the front paws and four on the back in case you lose count.)

5. After you've cut all the nails on the foot, extend each nail one by one again and gently file it smooth. Just a couple of strokes will keep the nail blunt and round, which will protect your furniture.

Safety Information
If the cat starts to lose patience, or if you are losing confidence, then stop and try again later. Just write down on a piece of paper what nails on what foot that you have done so that you do not need to repeat them later.

These rules apply to the vast majority of house cats; however, if you cover your cat with the towel and it reacts violently, then just take off the towel and let her go. There's no point in getting hurt -- such a cat should be trimmed by a professional.

For more cat-care tips, check out "Ask the Cat Keeper," by Marc Morrone.

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