How to Restrain a Cat to Clip Its Nails. All You Need To Know

How to Restrain a Cat to Clip Its Nails

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How to Restrain a Cat to Clip Its Nails


  • Restraining a cat to clip its nails can be a difficult task, especially if they struggle or try to avoid it.


  • Creating a safe and comfortable space for your kitty is essential to make the process smoother.


  • Start by placing a towel over your lap, which will help keep them in place and reduce squirming.


  • Once your cat is sitting on the towel, use one hand to gently but firmly hold its chest and front paws.


  • With your other hand, you can carefully inspect the nails and trim them with a clipper or nail file.


  • Make sure to only clip a small portion of the nail at a time, as too much pressure can cause pain and discomfort.


  • After trimming the nails, offer your cat a special treat or cuddle to reward them for their patience and cooperation.


It is also important to remember to be gentle with your cat throughout the process, as it can help create a trusting bond between you and your pet.

If your cat still refuses to cooperate, try using a calming spray or placing them in a carrier to reduce their anxiety and stress.

As always, it is best to consult your veterinarian before attempting to restrain your cat, as they can provide additional advice and safety tips.

With some patience and practice, you can quickly learn how to properly restrain your cat, so that nail trimming is stress-free for both of you.


How to Restrain a Cat to Clip Its Nails Safely and Comfortably


I’m speaking from experience when I say you should never attempt to clip your cat’s nails unless the kitty is calm and friendly. If you know that your cat won’t allow you to go through this process without trying to scratch and bite you, you should seek a veterinarian’s professional help. But if you’re ready to tackle this task, consider the following methods. 


1. The Towel Method


One of the best restraining techniques for cats involves the so-called “kitty burrito” strategy. Essentially, you’ll have to wrap your cat in a towel, administer medication to relax and calm it down, and put it into a crate safely and comfortably.

Never Force Your Cat Into a Towel

For this technique to work, your cat has to be able to trust you. Unfortunately, gaining its trust and preventing it from panicking is impossible if you rush and force it into the towel. 

And trust me; you should never attempt to wrap the cat into a “burrito” aggressively. Instead, place it on a towel and leave its favorite snack there. That way, the cat will remain calm and lie flat on the towel’s surface. Then, while it’s eating, keep stroking your kitty as you loosely wrap it in a towel. 

Prepare the Crate Properly

Mastering the “kitty burrito” technique is not enough. Your cat mustn’t be afraid of the crate. I advise bringing out the crate a couple of days before you trim the cat’s nails and place it in its favorite spot. 

Don’t hesitate to put the cat’s favorite toys and blankets inside. You might even want to consider using a feline pheromone spray. 

Once your cat is wrapped in a towel, position the crate with the open doors facing the ceiling, and place your cat gently inside, rear-end first.


2. The 2-Person Method


As the name suggests, the 2-person method involves two people; one who will restrain the cat and another who will clip its nails. However, you need to trust the other person involved for this method to work. What’s more, your cat’s personality should be trusting and mild enough so that it doesn’t panic and try to get away during the process.

Essentially, one person should grip the cat’s neck and place it on a flat surface, such as a table or a countertop. Once the cat is secured, the other person should proceed with the trimming. Again, I suggest you ask someone with enough experience with felines to help you. 


3. No Restraint


The ideal situation for many cat owners is caring for a well-behaved and docile feline that won’t panic or try to get away when you’re clipping its nails. If you’re this lucky cat owner, your cat will probably feel the most comfortable on your lap. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about how to restrain a cat from clipping its nails at all.

Placing a towel or blanket your cat likes on your lap first could help. Then, with the cat on your lap, place your forearm over its neck and hindquarters. Then, gently use your dominant hand to hold the clippers and your other hand to pick up your cat’s foot.


Trimming the Cat’s Nails


Now that we’ve covered how to restrain a cat to clip its nails, we should also go over the clipping process. Remember that cats have four nails on their front and back feet, with additional dewclaws on the front feet.

These claws are retractable. In that respect, you must apply pressure on the cat’s toe to expose the claw. Do this gently with your thumb and forefinger.

Once trimmed, you should only focus on the pointy and sharp claw ends. Never trim too close to the pink part of the nail, as this can cause bleeding and make your cat jumpy and restless. Even worse, it could seriously hurt your pet.

The front feet are the biggest reason for concern among indoor cat owners. You should clip and trim the nails on the front feet and the dewclaws. The cat’s back, feet, and nails don’t tend to do much damage, which means you can trim those less frequently.

I must remind you not to lose focus during the clipping process. If you cut the nail too close to the pink area, it will start bleeding, and your cat will get angry.

Applying clotting agents and medication would require even more restraint, which can make any future nail clipping challenging. 

If you cut too close and cause the nail to bleed, it would be best to leave the cat alone until it calms down. The bleeding will stop on its own soon enough. Ideally, you should avoid this mishap as much as possible. 


Perfect Nail Trimmers for Your Cat (Our pick below)



When contemplating how to restrain a cat to clip its nails, you can’t ignore the importance of the clipping tool. You can choose a clipper made explicitly for pets or human nail clippers. In my experience, clippers for humans can also be rather practical for clipping the cat’s nails because they allow for better visibility during the process.


Final Thoughts


In theory, you may know how to restrain a cat from clipping its nails, but I advise you to be very realistic about actually doing so. For example, if your kitty tends to be moody, jumpy, and even aggressive, there’s no need to force the towel method or have someone else hold your pet down. The best solution, in this case, is to go to the vet or the groomer. 

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