How do I use treats and praise when trimming my cat’s claws?

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Some cats will do anything for a tasty snack. If your cat is food-motivated, it may be a helpful trick for getting her used to having her nails trimmed. The easiest way to avoid stressful nail trims, of course, is to start when your cat is a kitten. When she is young and impressionable, start gently handling her paws and regularly trimming her nails.

Even when using food as a reward, choose a time when your cat is sleepy and relaxed, and avoid trying to trim the claws of a playful, wound up, or fearful kitty. Be patient and remember it’s okay to start with one paw at a time, if that is all that your cat will allow. Take hold of a paw, rub the toes, and talk quietly to your cat. Give her a treat or scratch a favorite spot. As she lets you hold her foot a bit longer, try to move to two feet during a session, and give her a treat or praise between paw holdings. Gradually increase the length of time you hold her paws between snacks.

Once you have gotten so you can handles her toes, show him the nail trimmer and offer her a snack or let her rub her face on it. You may even want to keep the trimmer near the food dish or near her favorite sitting spot so she becomes accustomed to it being around.

When you feel you are ready to try trimming her nails, trim one or two and see how she responds. Offer her a small treat or talk to her softly the whole time you are trimming. Use sharp nail trimmers and take off only the sharp, curved tip of the nail, staying clear of the pink “quick” of the nail to avoid causing pain.

Be patient and calm, and you will gain her confidence and trust and she will soon allow you to trim her nails regularly.

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