How do you trim the tips of a cat’s nails without cutting the quick?

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

Most cat nails have no pigment, meaning they are clear or a semi-transparent white color. When your cat is relaxed and sleepy, examine his paws and expose a claw by gently squeezing the toe pad and the top of the nail. When the nail is free of its sheath, you can usually see the pink center of the nail, or the “quick.” Professionals and those individuals who are very confident with trimming cat nails can cut pretty close to the quick without hurting the cat.

However, if you are not experienced, or are afraid you will hurt your cat, it is not necessary to trim so close. The part of the nail that has the potential to cause the most damage is the curved, sharp tip. If you can simply trim the narrow point of the nail, this will leave your cat’s claws a safe length. You may need to trim them more frequently, but once you and your cat get used to it, it can be a fairly quick and simple process.

If you do accidentally trim the quick, it may bleed. If this happens, don’t panic—it will usually stop bleeding on its own, or you can use a product like styptic powder to stop the bleeding yourself. If you don’t have styptic powder, you might try using flour or cornstarch to stop the bleeding. Soothe your cat by talking softly and petting him. If your cat (or his owner) becomes too stressed out by the process, take a break and get help or ask your veterinarian for suggestions.

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