Sweet talk, distractions and other “magic” tricks for cutting cat’s nails


As Seen With - Cathy Rosenthal

Encourage Kindness to Animals!

Highly-acclaimed children's books for your child or organization

Sweet talk, distractions and other “magic” tricks for cutting cat’s nails

Updated Dec 21, 2021

When I opened my email, I was pleasantly surprised to find a slew of reader tips on how to cut a cat’s nails. I am impressed with so many soft-spoken cat parents who have mastered the art of distraction to get their felines to pay attention only to them, and not the approaching nail clippers. In my house, I have to hide the nail clippers behind my back because my cat has learned what the shape of my hand looks like when hiding clippers.

Here are a few ways cat parents say they sweet talk, distract and otherwise trick their cats into a nail trim.

Dear Cathy,

I wait until my cat is sleeping. I then gently pick up his nearest paw and clip those nails. I am telling him he is a good cat while doing it. I then get his other paw done. After I am done and have loved and praised him, I give him a treat.

– Becky Hixson, via email

Dear Cathy,

I have always had the best results when trimming my cats’ nails by taking them outside.  Since they are indoor cats, they are not outside often. I bring one cat at one at time, sit them on my lap, and trim their nails. They are so interested in what’s happening around them, they don’t even realize I’m cutting their nails.  I can do all three cats in 15 minutes with no trauma to them or scratches and frustration to me.

– Laura, Aurora, Illinois

Dear Cathy,

I have clipped my cat’s nails while they are sleeping, drowsy or napping. Even if they wake up, l can talk to them in a calm voice and get a few nails done each time.

– Carol, Ellington, Connecticut

Dear Cathy,

Take your cat to a cat vet. The cat is in a situation where they are intimidated and will behave much better. We did this for years and it was worth every penny. It doesn’t cost that much, and they are skilled and can cut nails quickly. If you nip one toe too short, the cat will never forget.

– Kitty, Mendota Heights, Minnesota

Dear Cathy,

I bought a “cat in a bag” or similar product where you can extract one foot at a time. It works for me.

– Jae, Terrebonne, Oregon

Dear Cathy,

Here is a trick that almost always works if you have trouble cutting your cat’s nails.  Bundle them in a large bath towel with just their paws sticking out.  It calms them right down and you can cut their nails easily.  They must be bundled tightly though, or they will wiggle out. But it works like magic!

– Carol, Coon Rapids, Minnesota 


***note to Cathy: rewrite this entry

Dear Cathy,

Our cat, like many, dislikes having his nails trimmed. When he was young, I used to wear garden gloves when cutting his nails so as not to lose a finger. He’s now 18 pounds and tolerates nail trims.  I just put his serving of wet cat food in front of him to distract him.  While he doesn’t try to eat it, he does let me trim his nails knowing that his meal comes afterward. This has made it a lot less stressful for both of us.  When finished, I let him go, and he makes a U-turn to the food bowl. – James, Hebron, Connecticut

Dear James,

Nice! I love hearing how sneaky pet owners work out strategies to get their cats to acquiesce to a nail trim. Read on to hear another reader’s tricky tactics to trim their cat’s nails. 

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

Was this article helpful? Share with others!

2 thoughts on “Sweet talk, distractions and other “magic” tricks for cutting cat’s nails”

  1. I saw this crazy video on insta and tried it and after 10 years I can finally trim my big buy cats claws!!! 😂😂🐈🐈 hold him on my lap, take one front paw get ready to clip and at the same time bite into his neck and pull slightly-the way their mom used to do when he was a kitten! I know it’s crazy but he immediately was calm and let me snip away! It works 100%

    1. Cathy Rosenthal

      That’s awesome! It’s always a victory when you find a technique that works smoothly. Well done!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Cathy Rosenthal (aka The Pet Pundit), CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 35 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

Scroll to Top