How do you avoid cutting above the quick on cats with dark-colored nails?

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The safest, most effective way to trim your cat’s nails is to begin when you first bring them home. Getting your kitten used to having his or her feet handled and nails trimmed will make it much easier in the future to keep their nails a healthy length and avoid injury to your cat and yourself.

Most cat nails have no pigment, meaning they are clear or a semi-transparent white in color. Occasionally, however, cats have pigmented nails. They may be black due to coloring, or they may darken with age. If you have become familiar with your cat’s nails over the years, you may just come to know automatically how far you can trim without hitting the quick.

If you’re not familiar with where the quick is located on your feline, it is safest to just take the tips off the nails. If you look at how your cat’s nails are shaped, they are thickest at the base and get thinner as they extend. About two-thirds to three-quarters of the way down, they curve fairly sharply and become points. This is the part of the nail you are going to want to trim.

Use sharp nail trimmers to avoid pinching or crushing the nail, and take off only the sharp, curved tip. This is done most effectively when your cat is relaxed or sleepy so they will hold still and you can look carefully where you’re trimming. It might be best to have help at first, until you become more comfortable with where to cut.

If your cat becomes stressed, frightened or aggressive, discontinue trimming their nails. Contact your veterinarian for advice on safe, humane alternatives if you are unable to trim them independently.

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