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protracting cat claws for trimming

While trimming cat’s claws, reward with praise and treats

Q: How do I cut my cat’s nails?

A: Start by choosing equipment that feels comfortable in your hand. I use human toenail trimmers, but other people prefer cat claw trimmers from the pet supply store.

While you’re learning, have someone else cuddle your cat close, extending one leg at a time to you. Eventually, you’ll be able to hold your cat and trim her claws by yourself.

With your thumb above and your forefinger beneath the toe, gently press on the toe and watch the claw reveal itself. Trim off the clear, curved hook at the end of the claw without cutting into the sensitive pink quick. Reward your cat with praise and her favorite treats.

Here’s a bit of trivia. Whereas dogs and humans have nails, cats have claws. Unlike nails, cat claws are curved and rest hidden inside the toe until needed. Moreover, while dogs’ and humans’ nails keep growing until they interfere with daily living, cats’ claws stay sharp and rarely become too long because they shed their sheaths as they grow.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at

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