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Can I Cut My Cat’s Nails With Human Nail Clippers? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Risks

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on July 5, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

hand holding human nail clipper and cat paw

Can I Cut My Cat’s Nails With Human Nail Clippers? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Risks


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Some cats, especially indoor cats, need to have their claws regularly trimmed. It prevents the nail from curling around and growing in on itself and can stop injuries to the soft paw pad. Outdoor cats don’t generally need their claws clipped since they wear down during their normal routine.

You should buy special cat claw clippers that are designed for this purpose. Some people do use human nail clippers, but these are designed to clip people’s nails, which are very different from cat’s claws. Using human nail clippers on cats may cause the nail to splinter, which will add unnecessary stress and pain. For this reason, we don’t recommend using human nail clippers; instead, use proper cat claw clippers.

divider 1 paws

The 6 Tips for Cutting Cat Nails

1. Regularity

Nail clipping will usually need to be done quite regularly, and while it may be possible to have a groomer or even your veterinarian do it for you, it is also possible to trim nails and claws at home with just a few provisions and items.

2. Cat Condition

Anytime you plan to trim your cat’s nails, your cat should be relaxed and, ideally, sleepy. You should not try to undertake this particular task when your cat has just finished playing or is feeling energetic and lively. If you can, you should start trimming nails when your cat is a kitten. This way, they will become accustomed to you holding them, pressing the toe pad, and clipping around the claw region. If you try starting the process when your cat is older, it can be more difficult.

trimming nails of cat
Image Credit: Yimmyphotography, Shutterstock

3. Avoiding the Quick

Ensure that you avoid the quick. This can be seen through clear nails and looks like pink tissue under the claw. If you catch the quick, don’t panic. It will usually bleed for a couple of minutes before stopping. Gently press the claw with a clean cloth and speak softly to your cat, don’t panic or run around shouting because this will put your cat in a panic too. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after a couple of minutes, use a styptic pencil to stem the bleeding.

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4. Avoiding Stress

If your cat gets restless, stop clipping, walk away, and come back to the process later when both of you have calmed down. If your cat gets too stressed, they will remember the experience as being negative, and it will be even harder to clip their nails the next time you get the clippers out.

5. Using a Groomer

If all else fails, contact a groomer or even ask your veterinarian. Not only are they experienced and know how to cut the nails without catching the quick, but they will be speedy, get the job done, and your cat won’t associate you with the experience.

How to clip a cats nails
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6. Providing Treats

Do consider giving a tasty treat once the experience is over. You could give a treat that you only give to your cats after a harrowing grooming experience like this one, so that they have a positive experience at the end, and they will be more likely to remember this than the actual clipping.

divider 2 cats


A cat’s claws are essential to their well-being. They use them for climbing, balance, gripping, and even for grooming. If they are attacked, they will use the claws to defend themselves, too, so they really are an essential part of a cat. Looking after your cat’s claws should be considered a vital part of the everyday care of your beloved pet. Using human nail clippers on your cat is not recommended so it’s essential that you use the right equipment and opt for specialist cat claw trimmers. These are designed for and shaped for this very specific purpose.

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Featured Image Credit: ashshkna, Shutterstock

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