How Often Should You Trim Your Cat’s Nails?

by | May 21, 2024

, How Often Should You Trim Your Cat’s Nails?, The Comforted Kitty

How Often Should You Trim Your Cat’s Nails?  

As a loving cat owner, you have to perform a variety of tasks to keep your furry friend healthy and happy. 

You have to feed him a nutritious (and delicious) food. You have to provide him with life-enriching toys and furniture. And you have to visit the vet regularly for checkups and vaccinations. 

But you also have to carry out regular nail trimming. But exactly how often is that? 

We’ll explain the appropriate cat nail trimming schedule, explain some of the things you should think about when establishing a nail-trimming routine, and provide some helpful tips and tricks below!

, How Often Should You Trim Your Cat’s Nails?, The Comforted Kitty

How Frequently Should You Trim Your Cat’s Nails?

Different authorities recommend slightly different nail-trimming schedules, but generally speaking, you’ll want to trim your cat’s nails every two to four weeks. 

However, you’ll need to consider a few important factors when devising the perfect nail-trimming schedule for your specific kitty. 

For example, some cats simply have faster or slower growing nails than others. If your cat’s nails grow exceptionally fast, you may find it necessary to trim his nails every 10 days, rather than every couple of weeks. 

You’ll also have to think about how difficult it is to trim your pet’s nails. Some cats hate the procedure so much that it’s effectively impossible to trim all their nails in one sitting. If that sounds like your cat, you may just have to perform very frequent trims, in which you only cut a few nails at a time. 

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Why Is It Important to Trim Your Cat’s Nails?

Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed provides several benefits to his health and your life. 

For starters, overgrown nails don’t function correctly. They don’t retract all the way, and they can even grow into your pet’s food pads in extreme cases. This is not only painful for your cat, but it can cause long-term mobility issues. 

Overgrown nails can also cause more damage to your furniture and even leave you pretty carved up after holding your cat. Additionally, because trimming removes the pointy tip of your cat’s nails, it’ll also leave them a little duller, and less likely to cut your skin. 

, How Often Should You Trim Your Cat’s Nails?, The Comforted Kitty

Special Cases Influencing the Frequency of Nail Trimming

While the two- to four-week guideline is generally a good rule of thumb, some cats in specific circumstances will require more or less frequent trims. 

For example, older cats often require more frequent nail trims than young kitties do, because they’re less active. 

Typical cat activity, including things like using a scratching post and climbing a cat tree, helps to wear down nails gradually (just as happens with wild felines). But when cats aren’t very active, they miss out on these natural nail-trimming opportunities. 

Similarly, cats who spend lots of time outdoors need less frequent nail trims, as they spend lots of time walking on abrasive surfaces, which help to naturally grind down their nails. Outdoor cats may also climb more often, which will also help to keep their cat claws at a more manageable length. 

In fact, you may even want to avoid trimming the nails of outdoor cats, to ensure they can still climb to avoid danger and use their sharp nails for protection. 

Should You Just Have Your Cat Declawed If You Don’t Like Trimming His Nails?

In a word: No. 

Outside of cases in which it is medically necessary, declawing cats is often considered cruel. In fact, it is now illegal in many places. 

Many pet parents fail to understand that declawing procedures don’t just remove your cat’s nails; they also remove the first bone in your cat’s toes. It isn’t like just trimming your cat’s claws – it is a surgical procedure. 

Cats not only take a long time to recover following a declawing procedure, but many also develop behavioral problems afterwards. Some develop compulsive paw-licking behaviors, while others become more aggressive, likely because they now feel “disarmed.”

, How Often Should You Trim Your Cat’s Nails?, The Comforted Kitty

Cat Claw Trimming Tips & Tricks

Learning to trim your cat’s claws is pretty simple. The first few claw clipping sessions may be a little chaotic (especially with cats who don’t enjoy nail trims), but with a bit of practice, you’ll find that the process becomes easier. 

You can also employ a few helpful tips and tricks, which will often make the process go more smoothly:

  • Start trimming your cat’s nails while he’s young. You’ll often find that cats become more and more accustomed to nail trims over time, and if you start while your cat is still a kitten, he may be quite comfortable with the procedure by the time he is an adult. 
  • Avoid scolding your cat while nail clipping. You want to establish a positive association (or at least a neutral association) with nail trims for your feline friend. So, avoid scolding him, no matter how much he resists. Instead, praise him, give him gentle pets, and reward your cat with treats during the routine. 
  • Establish a good environment for nail trims. You don’t want to try trimming your cat’s nails in a chaotic room with young kids or other pets. You may also want to avoid letting your cat see out a window during the trim, as this may distract him. Try to set up a comfy chair in a quiet room for nail-trimming time. 
  • Get your cat used to the nail clippers. The sound of pet nail clippers can alarm skittish cats. So, let him see and sniff the nail clippers before you use them the first time. You may even want to let him hear what it sounds like when they cut something, so that he doesn’t become startled. 
  • Experiment with different kinds of cat nail clippers. There are a variety of different types of nail-trimming tools available to cat owners, including scissor-style clippers, guillotine-style clippers, and human nail clippers. You can even use a cat nail grinder. Some types work better for some cats and owners than others, so be sure to try different styles until you find the best nail trimmer for your kitty. 
  • While learning how to trim your cat’s nails, be very careful about the quick. Your cat’s nails have a “quick” inside, which contains blood vessels and nerves. You can usually see it by looking for the faint pink portion inside the nail (the quick is difficult to see in dark nails). Accidentally clipping this will cause your cat to have pretty significant pain, and it’ll also cause bleeding. So, while getting the hang of trimming your cat’s nails, allow plenty of space for the quick. As you get more comfortable, you can start trimming his nails closer and closer to the quick. 
  • Have styptic powder or cornstarch at the ready. While you should try to avoid nicking your cat’s quicks, accidents do happen. That’s why it is always a good idea to have styptic powder or cornstarch on hand, as either will help stop any bleeding that occurs. 

FAQ: How Often Should You Trim Your Cat’s Nails? 

Still have questions about the best nail-trimming schedule for your cat? We’ve rounded up some of the most common questions owners have and answered them below!

What happens if you don’t trim your cat’s nails? 

If you don’t trim your cat’s nails often enough, they may become overgrown, which can lead to mobility problems and potentially arthritis. In some cases, they may even begin growing into your cat’s food pads. 

Do vets recommend trimming cat nails?

Vets aren’t a monolithic group, who agree on everything. However, the vast majority of vets recommend trimming your cat’s nails on a regular basis. The only common exception is for cats who live outdoors and may need to defend themselves or climb to escape predators. 

Will the vet trim my cat’s nails?

Most vets will gladly trim your cat’s nails (although it’ll generally be a veterinary technician rather than the actual vet who does so). 

Will a pet store trim my cat’s nails?

Some pet shops do, in fact, trim cat nails. Just call ahead to be sure before bringing your cat. Note that some pet stores will charge for this type of service. 

Why do cats hate having their nails trimmed? 

Cats have sensitive feet, and many cats don’t like having their feet handled at all – whether you’re trimming their nails or not. Additionally, cats rarely enjoy being restrained, which is sometimes necessary for nail trims.

Should you trim your cat’s nails before going on vacation?

It is generally a good idea to trim your cat’s nails before leaving him with a friend or having a pet-sitter stay with him while you’re gone. This will not only help your cat’s caretaker avoid injuries, but it’ll also give you the chance to closely inspect your cat for health problems before leaving.  


Trimming your cat’s nails may not be the most fun you have with your floofy pet, but it’s an important part of general cat care. And with practice, most cat moms and dads find that the process gets easier. 

But what about you? How often do you trim your cat’s nails? Have you figured out any helpful tips you’d like to share? 

Let us know in the comments below!


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