The Best Clippers for Cat Nails (How to Trim Your Cat's Claws)

I have two cats of my own, and I wanted to make all of the information from my experience available to others.

I own two cats and have gained experience on the subject of nail trimming by searching for, buying, and using clippers with my furry friends. I knew their nails needed to be clipped when the cats were sticking to my carpeted floor or furniture when they were running around. Thus the search commenced for the best product out there that would keep our cats' nails short and clean without damaging or hurting them in the process.

I am all about my cats' comfort and what is best for them. It is also best for us as cat owners to give our cats the best care possible. This is a guide to the best clippers out there to get the job done. I've also provided some background on what each one does. I truly feel that a well-manicured cat is a happy cat.

Styles of Clippers


The best clippers that I've purchased are a scissor-type trimmer—our favorite brand is Four Paws. It's what I use to cut my cat’s nails. I've found these to be the best because they offer the maneuverability to trim the nail most effectively without harming it or cutting it too deep.

They also are great because they do not have a splintering effect on the nail that can cause a lot of pain for your cat. They cut the nail swiftly and cleanly to give your cat the best experience. Also, the handles are nice because they take no getting used to since they're in a familiar style. They can be operated with the exacting precision of a scissor.

So far, I've not found better nail clippers; however, I mention some others here that I recommend because I have used them on my cats and liked them.


Another type of clipper that is on-par with the scissor-style is the guillotine. We call it this because if you look closely at how it operates, it is nothing but a small guillotine with handles attached to it and a circular opening at the bottom to insert a cat nail into.

These are also effective because they allow a quick clean trim. This type can be useful if your cat will not sit still for any amount of time because they are quick and easy. They also do not cause any splintering as long as the blades are sharp.

They come with a decent-sized handle that allows a great grip and minimal trimming time. I would recommend these because we have previously used them but just could not get used to using them after using the scissor-type clipper.


This style combines the best of both worlds into one. The pliers-type clipper has the blades of a scissors-type clipper with very similar handles as the guillotine-type. This clipper is as effective and clean cutting as the scissor type and gives you the grip of the guillotine.

The handles are made out of a type of rubberized plastic for the best grip and they are thick so you cannot lose your control. This type of clipper also offers the precision and clean cut of the scissor-type blades.

Electric or Battery-Operated Clipper

I thought I would mention this type of trimmer only briefly because I have had little experience with them. I have attempted to use these nail trimmers on my cats; however, they do not like the noise it makes.

They were very, very easy to use and did the job in a quick, clean, and timely manner and left my cats' nails in great shape. The only drawback, depending on the type you buy, can be the noise they emit. I still recommend them as I have friends who use them on their own dogs and cats. Since they have been using them all along, their animals do not mind the noise at all.

Keep the Blades Sharp

Please keep in mind for your pet's sake and your own that a clipper is only as good as the blades on it. If possible, you will want to sharpen the blades of the trimmers you use no matter what type they are.

If you cannot sharpen the blades, then the best thing to do is to purchase a new trimmer. Perhaps the best part about cat nail clippers is that they are cheap. Do not put your or your cat's sanity at risk by using dull trimmers. The few dollars you lose in buying a new pair will save you so much more in ease of use and effectiveness.

All in all, please be safe when using any of these on your cats. Use them responsibly and if your cat does not like the ones you are using, buy new ones. These are cheap and effective and can save a cat's life when considering d e-clawing or cat nail caps.

How to Cut the Nails

Cutting a cat's nails can be a difficult process if you are not sure how to do it properly. It is not wise to attempt trimming while your cat is in a hyper mood or running around the house.

Step 1: Trim When Your Cat Is in the Right Mood

You will want to do it when your cat is calm. That way, you will not have to fight to get the job done.

Step 2: Hold Your Cat by the Scruff

There is an area on a cat’s neck called the scruff. This portion of fur is used by the cat’s mother to carry them around in their youth. It is not a very sensitive area and is well known to be the best place to firmly hold your cat. I do not mean you have to grab with all of your might, otherwise you may risk injury to your loved one and that is not something I endorse.

When picking up your cat, hold them by the scruff to calm it and to keep it from squirming. Holding them there gives them a sense of not having control. You will want to support their feet so this hold does not bother your cat.

Step 3: Expose the Nail

Then, you can take their paw and press gently on the nail sheath to expose the nail. This is where the nail can be clipped. It’s all about making sure your cat remains calm and supported while trimming their nails.

Step 4: Find the Quick

When the nail is exposed you will want to look closely as you will see a darker portion, which is the root of the nail. This is called the quick. You do not want to cut this darker spot of the nail as it will hurt your cat and can cause bleeding.

If this happens, do not worry as there is powder that can be applied to stop the bleeding, however you will want to be sure to avoid this as it will put your cat through unnecessary pain.

Step 5: Trim, Avoiding the Quick

All you have to do is just look closely while trimming and be sure you are cutting the nail only. You do not have to cut off the whole nail or cut very deeply to trim.

This can also be done by a professional but it will cost you an arm and a leg for something that can be done right at home. This also requires little effort and will go a long way for you and your cat. After a few times, your cat will get used to this and be less likely to move while having its nails cut.

Why Clip?

1. Clipped Claws Are More Comfortable for Your Cat

The main reason to trim is not for the furniture or to stop your cats from scratching things. We trim for our cat's comfort so they do not have claws that will get caught on everything and grow so long that they reach their pads and cause harm. When a cat’s nail gets caught, the cat can have a difficult time freeing themselves and can even harm themselves trying to get free.

Also, if the claw grows too long, it can start to dig into their pads and cause pain and infection. This is not good for you or your cat. Be proactive and cut your cat's nails when they get long to avoid these occurrences.

2. Cats With Shorter Nails Are Calmer

The second reason is that cats are more comfortable when they have shorter claws because they do not have to scratch everything to trim them.

Our cats are calmer when they have neatly trimmed nails, which is great for them to feel relaxed and great for us as their owners to relax with them. They are also less likely to cause themselves harm and aggravation. This can mean a calmer demeanor for your cat's well being.

3. Clipping Helps Reduce Property Damage

The third reason can be to reduce damage done to furniture and carpeting. However, if you cannot own a cat that has claws, I do not recommend owning a cat at all. No harshness is meant by this statement but to de-claw a cat is doing them a disservice.

Cats are meant to have claws for defense, hunting, and marking territory. They need them to survive, especially if they accidentally escape or are an indoor and outdoor cat.

Never Use Nail Caps

Another damaging method of containing cat’s nails is cat nail caps. These caps are so much more harmful to your cat than simply trimming their nails. They can cause infections and pain that will do your cat unnecessary harm. They can also cause the cat to not be able to retract its claws into their sheath.

I mention this for informational purposes only, as we want to cause no harm to cats if it can be avoided. We should look for the most cat-friendly methods to achieve the results we want with our pets.

Jules on November 27, 2016:

How do you sharpen the guillotine nail clippers?

Donald (author) from Florida on September 24, 2015:


Awesome comment and thank you for the kind words. I too agree that Soft Paws are a safe alternative and I wrote this hub a long time ago. At the time I wrote this I didn't want to be a proponent of them for the risk of someone choosing the knockoffs and really hurting their cat. I feel now that cat owners should talk to their vets anytime they think of declawing a cat and choose the option the professionals recommend.

Toby Wexler DVM on September 24, 2015:

Great site but I want to comment on the nail caps piece. The brand Soft Paws does not interfere with extension or retraction of the Cats nails. Other Chinese knock offs however have caused many problems.

Soft Paws are designed by a veterinarian and used by over 50 ,000 veterinarians world wide. These safe , soft vinyl caps do not change the way cats use their nails. They can still go around the house exercising their claws , but without damaging anything. As a Veterinarian I would be happy to discuss this with you. I agree with the nail trimming benefits you outline, and along with Soft Paws , these two procedures give owners an effective alternative to Declawing cats.

meowlover on December 03, 2014:

I think it's not a good thing to trim to cat's claws. I prefer scratch poles, never use any of the listed things.

Donald (author) from Florida on March 27, 2013:

Well Thank you. I thought the same of yours as well. I suppose I am just doing what I can to help cat owners with the experiences I have had with my cats. Although I did really like your page about cats running away, I do not think I could create a better hub as you had some information I didn't know or use when my cats have gotten out.

kabanov from Russia on March 23, 2013:

Thanks for your hubs, bestcattree. They are very useful and interesting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it necessary to trim a cat’s claws?

It’s important to keep a cat’s nails trimmed short to avoid injuries to the claws and paws. Too-long nails can grow right into the paw pad, causing a painful injury that will need veterinary attention. Keeping the claws trimmed short also helps minimize scratches to your skin and damage to your furniture.

How can I cut my cat’s nails by myself?

It’s not hard to cut your cat’s nails as long as you have the right tools and approach. Buy a small-size pet nail clipper and some styptic powder (an anticoagulant, in case you accidently cut the vein inside the nail). If you aren’t sure how to go about trimming the nails, ask your veterinarian or groomer for a lesson.

How can I calm my cat to trim his nails?

Start by handling your cat’s paws and nails without trying to cut them. Reassure your cat in a calm and soothing voice and give lots of extra-tasty treats (try chicken breast or canned tuna) and go slowly. Once your cat is accepting of you handling his paws, move on to trying to cut the nails, continuing to give treats.

Can you use human nail clippers on cats?

If your cat has small nails, you can try using a human nail clipper instead of a pet nail clipper. However, because human nail clippers are very small, they may be hard for someone to hold and maneuver, especially if the cat is resisting. If you have a squirmy cat, pet nail clippers may be a better choice.

How to trim the claws of and aggressive cat

Here are 8 tips to follow for trimming the claws of an aggressive cat:

1. Learn the Basics

Trimming a cat’s claws should be as painless as cutting your own nails. If your cat is acting aggressively while you are trimming her claws it might be because you are inadvertently hurting her.

Make sure you not to cut too close to the pink or red tinge at the base of the claw. It is going to bleed a little if you accidentally cut the quick which contains the blood vessels and the nerves. This will cause pain for your cat.

2. Have the Cat Familiarize to the Sound of the Clipper

Cats may freak out when they hear the sounds of the clipper or even when they see it. You might want get her used to its sound before attempting to trim the nails.

This other tip may come handy also. Try putting the clippers in your cat’s bed so he’ll become more used to them. You can also stroke him with the clippers to remove any fears from it. You may try giving him some treats at the same time.

3. Trim While the Cat is Sleeping

This is one of the easiest ways and probably works best for me. Get her when she is relaxed and even sleepy. Place her in your lap and wait until she is comfortable. Then take the paw, gently massage it until the claw appears, and clip them one at a time. This works best if she’s in a deep sleep.

If things go well, by the time the cat is fully awake, I’m half done with the claws. I just stop and continue later when she is asleep again.

4. Wrap the Cat in a Towel

You might try to wrap your cat in a blanket if she is an aggressive one. But coming from experience, wrapping the cat may only make her more agitated and less likely to obey.

5. Trim When the Cat is Curious

A new environment, places she is not allowed to or things she is not used to, are the best distraction for your cat. It may be in the garage or outside on the porch. Fresh air tends to help distract cats too if they are not used to it.

For example, a cat may become so curious inside a vet’s office which can make it easier for the vet to cut her nails very easily.

While doing it at home, I put her on our bathroom counter and she gt so distracted by the new things she saw that she did not care mind trimming at all.

6. Use Calming Pheromones

The natural chemical that cats use to communicate with each other are called Pheromones. They are spreading it whenever they rub up against a couch, the carpet or some other piece of furniture.

7. Play with your Cat’s Paws Regularly

Play with your cat’s paws regularly and you can do this while she is awake or sleeping. This will allow her to be accustomed to you touching her paws. Then when it is time for nail clipping session, she is not so supprised to have her paws handled.

You can start pushing the pads of her paws to push her nails out once she is used to. This make her more comfortable and she may even enjoy it.

8. Obey the DONT’s

These are few things you should not do while trimming your cat’s nails:

  • If your cat is moody, upset, or overexcited, DO NOT start clipping the nails. Instead wait for her to calm down for a better opportunity.
  • DO NOT force your cat. If she suddenly scratches you, DO NOT punish the cat.
  • DO NOT declaw. This painful experience will lead to behavior problems since it will leave your cat injured for life.

By following one or several of these tips above, you should be able to make nail clipping and happier and hassle-free experience for both the cat and yourself.

How to Cut Cat Nails With Human Clippers

Cutting cat nails with Human Nail Clippers might be easy, but we suggest you follow the veterinarian’s advice. Human nail clippers may split the nails further making the nails rough and uncomfortable. These nail clippers sometimes pinch, which will make it difficult for you to handle your cat.

Moreover, human nail clippers don’t work well if your cat has very small or thick nails. In contrast, the Feline Clippers are designed to clip a cat’s nail securely. Therefore, it is always good to use the best cat nail clippers to cut cat nails. If for some reason you have to use human clippers to cut cat nails then be very careful.

Cats more often do not like to get their nails trimmed. However, you might prefer to cut their nails at regular intervals because they hurt you or your children. Trimming cat nails is the best alternative than declawing the cat. Often, a cat gets used to it after a few regular sessions of nail cutting.

The Best Clippers for Cat Nails (How to Trim Your Cat's Claws) - pets

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.

In the photographs below, unless otherwise noted, the top if the paw is facing up. Tigger, who was the feline model, has black pads on his toes. The black pads on the bottom of his toes will help you orient yourself as you view the photographs.

Variations on these instructions exist.

Most cats do not like having their claws trimmed. Start trimming claws in young animals so that they get used to the process. Some cats will happily sit in your lap or on a table while you trim their claws but many require some form of restraint.

To restrain a cat in your lap, use your forearms draped over the cat's neck and hind-end to keep the cat in your lap. The clipper is held in the right hand.

There are several styles of nail trimmers, including a guillotine type, a scissors cut, and a standard human fingernail clipper. Either the guillotine type or a human fingernail clipper are easiest to use in cats.

The scissors-type is used if a toe nail is so long that it is curling in a circle. Long claws can grow into the toepad.

Watch the video: How To Restrain a Fractious Cat and Trim Cat Nails (May 2021).