Categories: claws

Should Cat Claws Be Trimmed?

People ask whether they should trim their cat’s claws. The first point to make in answering the question is that, in my view, a very small percentage of cat owners trim their cat’s claws for the simple reason that it is difficult to do because cats don’t like it unless they’ve been trained to accept it.

Therefore, nearly all cats who have not been declawed do not have trimmed claws. Cat owners accept it. Therefore, on that basis, you have to come to the conclusion that cat claws do not need to be trimmed because their owners accept untrimmed claws.

If, on the other hand, a cat owner is contemplating declawing their cat they should learn to trim their cat’s claws. Cat owners who want to declaw their cat clearly don’t like cat claws for a range of reasons (fear of claws?) and therefore have a need to deal with them. Rather than inhumanely amputate each toe beyond the last knuckle which is incredibly painful, and can cause lasting complications, it is far wiser to learn to trim claws. Claws which have been trimmed are blunted and therefore cannot pierce a person’s skin and are not able to scratch furniture.

In older cats, because they are often inactive, it is possible for their claws to become ingrowing. They grow very long and turn in on themselves and pierce the paw pad. This can cause an infection and pain. Cat owners looking after elderly cats should check their cat’s claws at regular intervals to make sure that they aren’t ingrowing. Under these circumstances cat claws should be trimmed at regular intervals when appropriate.

Perhaps in a better world all cat owners should trim the claws of their cat which means that all cats at a young age should be trained to accept it. I’m convinced that this would help substantially decrease the number of cats who are declawed. It would be a very good thing in the cat world if more people were receptive to the idea of trimming the claws of their cat and keen to avoid the partial amputation of the ten toes of their forepaws.

There are many websites on the Internet about cats and the authors of these sites quite often instruct and advise cat owners to trim the claws of their cat. The advice is sensible on the one hand but on the other it is impractical and unlikely to be carried out for the reason stated in the first paragraph of this article.

There is perhaps one final point to be made which is this: indoor cats are more likely to need their claws trimmed than outdoor cats. This is because the claws of their forepaws are not worn down due to normal activity. For an outdoor cat walking on hard surfaces or climbing it is normal for their claws to be blunted which precludes the need for trimming. Of course, I am not suggesting that cat owners who don’t like claws should let their cats roam freely outside. I’m simply making the point.

P.S. If you plan to trim your cat’s claws you should know what you’re doing and do it carefully. Never force the issue. Don’t wrestle with your cat. You will come off worst. If in doubt consult a veterinarian. Veterinarians are well able to trim your cat’s claws.

P.P.S. I welcome the views of others. If you can add to the article it would please me. This article was written without reference to any works of any kind and therefore it is possible that I have left something out.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

  • I don't trim my cats' nails, but I do have fond memories of watching my mother doing it for her cats. Most of them mildly tolerated the attention.

    Momma would sit on a stool and hold the cat in her lap. She would firmly, but gently, hold their paws while using a baby's nail clippers to remove just a tiny portion from the end of each claw. When she was finished, the cat would run off and sulk. 🤣 They would recover their normal demeanor within an hour or two.

  • There was a time that I trimmed my cats' claws. Now I do not. The furkids have several cat trees and scratching posts to keep their claws at a decent length. I also have four area rugs that are manufactured to NOT get destroyed by cats clawing at them. There is now an area rug in all rooms except the bathroom and kitchen. My 6 have been going at the rugs for almost a year now, and they still look as good as when I put them down. And I don't have to traumatize the cats to trim claws-that would really set the deaf ferals over the moon. I check my 17 year old cat's claws to see if I need to trim them, but so far she has kept her claws trimmed herself.

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