How To Cut Kitten Nails Quickly & Easily

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You CAN cut your kitten’s nails quickly & easily! There are many reasons why you might need to clip your kitten’s nails, but regardless of the why, we’re going to get into the how of getting kitty’s nails trimmed.

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How to Cut Kitten Nails

The best way to cut a kitten’s nails easily is to develop a trusting relationship with your kitten. First, be sure you have the right nail clippers for the task at hand, Then, work until the kitten is comfortable with you touching his or her paws. Finally, snip the nails quickly so the kitty doesn’t lose patience, and be careful to only trim claws without cutting the paw.

Easier said than done? Read on for more details!

Odie the kitten is ready to get his nails trimmed!

When to Start Trimming Kitten Nails?

You can start trimming a kitten’s nails around 4 weeks of age. Before this, the nails are typically too small and thin, and the kittens can’t retract the nails or control them very well. However, it’s never too early to begin developing trust and handling your kitten regularly. A successful, easy nail trim is more about your relationship with your kitten than anything else. If you have adopted a kitten older than 2 months, you can start trimming his nails as soon as your are both comfortable.

Developing a Relationship and Gaining Trust with your Kitten

Developing a trusting relationship with your kitten is fun and rewarding.

If you have a very young kitten living with you, you will naturally be developing a relationship as you ensure that his needs are met. You shouldn’t need to start clipping the kitten’s nails until he is about 4 weeks old.

If you have an older kitten, you may need to work on getting her to trust you. Feeding animals is always a great way to develop trust. Have the person who is to trim kitty’s nails give food and treats. Spend lots of time petting and cuddling with your kitty.

Play with your kitten with toys. Cats love to hunt and play. It’s very important to make sure the kitten is hunting toys during play, and not your hands. Many cat owners love to wrestle and roughly handle their cats. If this works for your and your beloved animal, I’m not going to tell you to stop – but if it works for you, then you’re not likely to be reading this article! Be sure your kitty gets enough movement and fun playtime to fulfill her by giving her attention during playtime with toys. Kittens need even more play time than adult cats. They will love you all the more for an extra half-hour of playing with a wand toy.

Touch your kitten with gentle hands only. If you need to improve your trust level with your cat, your kitten needs to know that your hands are gentle, loving hands. Hands provide pets and scritches and loving touches. Hands mean purring and ear rubs. Gentle hands are vital when fostering kittens so they grow up understanding appropriate claw usage.

A grey cat cleans his paws and chews on his claws.

Desensitizing Paws to Touch

While your kitten is in a restful state and accepting pets and scritches, begin by gently touching his paws. Slowly build up over time until you can gently squeeze the paws, and get each claw to extract. A good time to start this is after a meal, when the kitten is happy and sleepy. At first, the kitten may startle and pull away when you touch her paws. This is normal! She is not used to it. Over a few days or weeks, the kitten won’t take more notice of her paws being touched than she does of her ears being scratched.

How to Cut a Kitten’s Nails

Once you and your kitten trust each other, and he is comfortable with your touching his paws, it’s time to trim some claws!

Trim Nails When the Kitten is Relaxed

Wait until your kitten is once again in a quiet and sleepy mood, and then grab the cat clippers. Hold the kitten on your lap facing out. Gently squeeze one of his toes until the claw pops out, and place the clippers around the tip of the claw. This is the important part: Clip only the last third or so of the nail, leaving plenty of white nail between the clippers and the pink inner portion of the nail.

Clip only the nail tip; frequent small trims are preferable

To repeat, when trimming the kitten’s nail, be sure only to clip the sharp tip. Clipping too close to the pink part may nick the cat’s “fingertip” and cause pain. It is preferable to trim quickly and painlessly and more frequently. If you cut your kitten while trying to trim her nails, she will come to associate nail trims with pain. An additional perk of trimming kitten nails more frequently is that your kitten is even more used to the process and it will go more smoothly.

Cut the kitten’s nail

Place the clippers around the tip of each nail in succession and squeeze gently to trim the claw. You will likely only be able to do a handful (paw-ful) of nails in one sitting. It’s fine to do a full nail trim over the course of a few days.

Check out this video tutorial that walks you through the whole process of clipping kitten nails.

The Optional Burrito Method

If you have a particularly energetic or wiggly kitten, you may choose to use The Burrito Method. If you are fostering kittens who are under socialized or who you haven’t gotten to know really well yet, The Burrito Method might also be a useful tool.

Wrap the kitten

Grab a hand-towel sized towel, and scoop up your nervous/wiggly kitten. Gently, GENTLY wrap the towel around the kitten so that only her head is sticking out, like a delicious little kitten burrito. Hold the towel closed firmly but not tightly behind the kitten’s ears. Reach into your kitten burrito and extract one front paw. Clip the nails as discussed above, and remember: JUST THE TIP. If your kitten gets impatient, consider stopping after a few nails or the first paw and trying again later. If your kitten is being patient and not fighting you too much, rewrap that paw into the burrito, and extract the other front paw to repeat the process.

Clipping back claws on a burrito’d kitten

If you need to clip the kitten’s back claws (and this is not always necessary, so use your best judgement), rewrap the front paws first. Then extract one rear paw from the other end of the burrito and repeat the nail-trimming process.

This video tutorial shows the process of clipping wiggly kitten nails using a towel to wrap the kitten in a burrito.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never think twice about giving your kitten’s claws a quick cut.

How To Cut Kitten Nails Quickly & Easily

With this simple 5-step process, you’ll be able to clip your kitten’s nails quickly. Even if your kitten is a wriggling, spinning Tasmanian devil of sharp claws right now, this step-by-step tutorial will have him purring in your hands for a quick and easy nail trim before you know it!

How to cut kitten nails quickly and easily

Kelsey Madison

Kelsey Madison is a cat lover, fostering enthusiast, part time vet tech & writer. She has fostered close to 300 animals over the last 10+ years, and currently has 3 beautiful tabby cats who love to stick their faces in her morning lattes. She is passionate about helping others develop a deeper understanding of their beloved felines and learn more about fostering.

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