Learn How to Trim Your Cat’s Nails (and Take Back Control of Your House)

Y’all- this might not seem like a controversial topic upon first glance but hear me out. A little back story first; Whitney and I were both veterinary technicians at a cat-only animal hospital before Whitney became The Charleston Cat Groomer. We learned a lot of our cat handling skills and various tips and tricks to successfully calm anxious kitties there- while working at the vet. Our very first lesson, Rule # 1, was “Before doing anything else, trim the nails!” Why? You might ask. Sharp cat nails are dangerous. I don’t care how experienced you are as a cat handler- all it takes is one unexpected loud noise for those nails to come in contact with your face, chest, (insert your favorite body part here). Next thing that happens- you drop the cat, cat runs and hides under the bed, chaos ensues, you can see how this goes from here. My advice: if you need/want to have better control of your cat at home, you need to master trimming their nails!

How could such practical advice be misinterpreted as animal cruelty? Two words- The Internet. We began posting cat nail trim demos and videos on our Instagram and YouTube channel about 3 years ago. There wasn’t much of a response at first. It wasn’t until we gained a large following and began doing reels on Instagram that people really began to resist the idea of cutting their cat’s nails. Not only resist- but flat out accuse us of animal abuse. The majority of these misinformed commenters were teenage girls (as you might expect), but what surprised me was that a few of them were seemingly educated individuals; holding jobs and successfully navigating the world. All that I can assume about these people is that when it’s time to medicate or groom their cat, they will be the ones calling the veterinarian to tell them that they aren’t able to give the medication, and calling the groomer to apologize for how matted their cat is because “she just won’t let me comb her.”

Yeah… these aren’t all just internet trolls waiting around to cast their negative comments for attention. These are your friends, family, and neighbors! They have never been taught that it’s possible to have a healthy relationship with your cat! One in which YOU call the shots (sort of). One of our goals with this blog is to change that archaic stereotype. I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than to teach you the same Rule #1 that we learned so many years ago! I’m including a short video and a link to an inexpensive (but well-made) pair of nail scissors. Don’t bother with any gimmicky items like electric files- this is all you need right here!

We sell this pair on the website but any pair that is similar will work.


(This demo was made a few years ago but it’s still a great video!)

Were YOU taught that the cat of the house decides when and what happens to it, and that there’s no other option? Most people were. This is shocking to anyone who has to handle other people’s cats on a daily basis. It’s really no different than with children- the majority of kids don’t want to go to school or do homework. They don’t want to eat their vegetables, and they don’t want to take a shower or get their hair cut (just trust me on this if you don’t have kids yet). They don’t want to go to bed at nap time and they probably don’t like you cutting their nails either! But as the ‘responsible’ one in the household (I use this term loosely), YOU know that your child benefits from all these things in the long-run. So you buck up, and put up with all the bitching and moaning and crying and tantrums and you make them do the things anyway (most of the time).

Your cat is no different y’all. And same with dogs but I’ll save that rant for the dog bloggers. There are just certain activities your cat has to learn to tolerate for her and your benefit. Nail trims are one of these things. It not only builds your confidence and keeps the nails from growing into the pads, but it prevents furniture destruction, and more importantly keeps you from bleeding when you have to do some mandatory home-grooming, medicating, or traveling with Fluffy.

A happy hoodie like this one can help calm and distract your cat during nail trims

If you’ve tried, and tried, and tried… but you’re just not gaining any ground with the nail trims- let me introduce a little something called a Happy Hoodie. No- we didn’t invent them- a very smart groomer did- but, we do LOVE them! They are a complete game-changer for some cats. Have you ever put a Halloween costume on a pet? You know how sometimes they just kinda freeze-up and fall over when you put it on them? Well, sometimes the Happy Hoodie has a similar effect. I’d say it calms down 75% of the cats we put it on. The other 25% either try to immediately kick it off their head or are so worked up that they need sedatives. Three out of four ain’t bad odds if you ask me, so why not try it? Worst case scenario you’re out $10 and you have a cool new sweat band to hit the courts with. I’m attaching our link here… https://pineapplecatshop.com/collections/everything/products/happy-hoodie

Now that you have the hoodie, and your trusty scissors in your pocket, go sit nonchalantly down beside your cat and place the hoodie snugly around his head. Carry him to a high surface (kitchen or bathroom counter), and quickly (key is quickly) try snipping a few front nails or two. The front nails are the longest and do the most damage. Most cats will get a little squirrely for the rear nails. Enlist a friend (or arch rival?) to help hold Kitty still for you if needed. ** Important advice– If you get scratched just wash it very well with soap and water. Yes- there is something called cat-scratch fever but it’s fairly rare (I don’t personally know any technicians who have ever gotten it- even though we’ve all been scratched thousands of times). Bites are a different story altogether. They hurt like hell and get infected fairly easily. Wash the wound well and keep a very close eye on any redness or swelling. Calling your primary care physician for a little Rx of preventative antibiotics isn’t a terrible idea either. Cat bites, when left untreated, can send you to the hospital for a round of IV antibiotics. I know this isn’t a very fun thing to talk about, and I personally believe it is highly unlikely that your own cat is going to bite you badly enough that you’ll require medical attention, but it has to be said. Your cat has been running things for so long at this point that he might decide you need to be taught a lesson. Don’t give up! (And don’t let him see you cry- do that in the shower for God’s sake.) Rethink your plan, give him some time to forget about it, and try again. If you need help formulating a plan just comment below. We’ll surely be able to think of something you haven’t tried yet.

Shannon & Whitney


3 thoughts on “Learn How to Trim Your Cat’s Nails (and Take Back Control of Your House)

  1. Every one gets their nails trimmed in this household*!

    *this household consists of 2 humans, 1 dog, 7 cats + a varying number of foster kitties! šŸ˜€


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