How to cut cat nails with human nail clippers

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How to cut cat nails with human nail clippers is a commonly asked question. There are actually special cat nail clippers made for the specific purpose of clipping cat nails. Human nail clippers have a flat opening designed to fit a finger nail. Cat nail clippers typically look more like scissors, with a rounded opening designed to fit a claw.

A cat stretches his paws toward the camera with his head resting on his paws.
Cut my nails carefully please!

Why cut cat nails with human nail clippers

Cat nail clippers are very inexpensive (perfectly functional options start below $10) and readily available. You can find them online, at your local pet store, or even in the pet section of your grocery store.

You may need to trim a cat or kitten’s nails because you have suddenly become caretaker of a new animal. It could be because you cannot find the cat clippers you already own for your pet. Or, you may not wish to make an investment in an extra item when you can learn to use the human nail clippers you already own. In any of these cases, I would still recommend to go ahead and purchase a small, inexpensive set of cat clippers. This will make the process easier and more comfortable for both you and your cat.

However, if you are determined to trim cat nails using human nail clippers, there are a few things to keep in mind.

How to cut cat nails with human nail clippers

Regardless of the tool you are using, it’s good to have a strategic approach to trimming cat or kitten nails. Check out these posts on how to cut cat nails and how to cut kitten nails for a thorough breakdown.

Preparing for a kitty nail trim

To summarize, you will want to develop a good relationship with the cat you are trimming. If this is a new cat in your home, use food, pets, and a calm environment to ensure the animal is comfortable before beginning. This may take a few days. Practice touching the cat’s paws, and extending his claws before attempting to trim the claws. Wait to clip his nails until the cat is in a calm and relaxed state.

Cutting the claws

Once you are prepared to cut the cat’s nails, grab your human clippers in your dominant hand. Gently squeeze one toe-bean to extend a claw, and position the human nail clippers sideways. This is the primary difference in using human clippers to cut the claws rather than cat clippers.

To cut cat nails with fingernail clippers, hold the clippers sideways as shown above, and leave plenty of space between the clippers and the pink park visible inside the nail. Aim to clip just the tip of the nail.

Whereas cat clippers can be oriented any which way, you want to position the cat claw so the flattest part of the claw is in the being squeezed by the clippers. This means you are holding the nail clippers at a 90 degree rotation to how you might hold them to trim your own finger nails. This should minimize discomfort to your cat’s paw when squeezing the clipper to cut the nail.

Because the process of clipping cat nails with human nail clippers is very similar to using cat clippers, this video will likely still be a useful reference tool.

Here I am trimming kitten nails, but the process is the same for cooperative adult cats. Check out this article on cutting cat nails for tips on trimming the nails of less cooperative adult cats.

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