I have two cats. I am all about my cats' comfort and what is best for them.
A Well-Manicured Cat Is a Happy Cat
I have 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 I could see their paws 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.
4 Styles of Clippers
There are four main types of cat clippers out there.
1. Scissor Type (My Favorite)
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.
2. Guillotine Style
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.
3. Pliers Style
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.
4. 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.
Tip: 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 de-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.
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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.
3 Reasons You Should Clip Your Cat's Nails
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.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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.