Cat Claws

As many of you already know, I inherited my parents’ cat (Lily) last spring. Lily is sweet and affectionate, albeit a bit needy. I give her plenty of attention, brush her every day (well, almost every day), and let her sleep on my pillow next to my head at night. She’s quick to purr and follows me around the house like a puppy.

The only real issue I have is with her claws. She likes to “poke” me when she wants to be petted but her sharp claws can stab me instead. I’ve tried to clip her claws myself without much luck. She runs away when she sees the clippers. If I persist, she hides under the bed.

I hope that one of you has pointers on clipping cat claws. A couple of months ago I hired a mobile grooming service to come to my house (Lily refuses to go in a cat carrier). It cost a small fortune but at least Lily wasn’t mad at *me*.


Please give me advice! I noticed last night that Lily has been using those sharp claws on the furniture too!


19 thoughts on “Cat Claws”

  1. Good morning,

    We have four cats, and can sympathize. Based on our experience of rescuing adult cats, it often takes a year or longer to establish a relationship with a cat. As your cat’s trust in you develops, you’ll find that you are better able to clip claws and medicate when necessary. Tiny, incremental steps!

    I’m assuming you have one or more scratching posts? Cats have to scratch, it’s part of their physiology. Cat trees are particular favorites. The cats can stretch up to scratch and gives them a place that’s “up” to survey their domain. Place it in front of a window if at all possible. You may want to experiment with different types of surfaces – carpet, sisal, cardboard. Each cat definitely has a preference.

    You can try catnip or catnip essence on the cat tree/post to encourage it’s use. There’s also avoidance sprays (bitter orange, etc.) that can be used to deter scratching. A suggestion for the short term while the cat transitions to the tree – perhaps tuck aluminium foil around the furniture corners to make the surface very unattractive to her?

    Good luck!

  2. I agree with everything Kim mentioned above. Additionally, having a very tasty treat (a tiny, tiny bit of salmon or similar) if she can be bought with food. Clip 1 nail, give a tiny morsel as a reward. Praise and tell her “good girl”. You may only do 1 nail a day for awhile, but be consistent. Try not to tense up and get frustrated with her. Animals read body language and tone of voice *very* well. Keep your tone happy and light.
    Also, cardboard scratch areas are great, can be changed out as needed, catnip added to entice scratching, and offer a different surface than a carpet covered or bare wood scratching post. (Like any on this page: . No affiliation.)
    Scratching besides marking territory, also tends to file their nails down. So, cats will always do it. You just have to negotiate where they are permitted to do so!
    Also, you can post to the Positive Pets on Ravelry forum to see if you can get any other suggestions!
    Good Luck!

  3. I agree with the previous post, especially about provided scratching post, cat trees, etc. In addition to a cardboard scratcher, the scratching post my cats use the most is this one from Amazon
    On areas you don’t want them to scratch, like your furniture, you can try double sided sticky tape. They even sell sheets of it at the pet store. The cats don’t like the sticky feeling on their paws.
    My cats will only let me clip their nails when they are very relaxed and I am brushing them.
    Good luck!

  4. I agree with the others and say they have good suggestions. We’ve had cats for 47 years and always had at least one “cat tree” scratching post. That’s been a tremendous help. Since we have gotten them all as kittens training them to have their claws clipped has been easy so I can’t add anything to what others have said. Your Lily is lovely and made me remember our beloved Lilli.

  5. Im a big fan of calling in the professionals! Our sweet kitty is happy to walk right into the carrier, every time, so I take her to the vet for a pro clip. Definitely worth it. I know it’s time when she starts getting stuck in things, like my clothes.

    We have a scratching post that she loves; it’s covered with carpeting.

    Our previous cat was happy to let us clip her claws (a two person job), but that didn’t keep her from shredding our leather sofa. I didn’t catch it until way too late, but you are on top of things. I recommend Sticky Paws, which is a two sided clear adhesive. Put it where you don’t want scratching; cats don’t like the sticky feel. You can save that edge of your furniture!

    But as far as clipping: pro job. Good luck!

  6. Put double stick tape on your furniture where she likes to scratch. She’ll never scratch over the tape. Lots of good advice already given. Good luck!

  7. I would try to get several different types of scratching posts/boards to see if you can figure out what she likes. Some cars like to scratch horizontal, others vertical. For some it’s sisal rope or carpeted, other love the corrugated cardboard. If you find one that she likes get a couple and put them in the rooms she hangs out in. We have three cats and probably have at least 10 different scratchers and cat trees throughout the house.

  8. We play with our cats paws all the time when she’s sitting with us, so clipping time isn’t an ordeal. I also found that I get a much closer trim easier with people nail clippers, used vertically (perpendicular to the way you’d trim your own nails). An added bonus is that I keep nail clippers in my project bags to clip yarn, so I always have a pair handy.

  9. my cats seemed to prefer the rope style scratching posts. I would encourage them to use it by picking up my cat and setting her down by the post and moving her front legs for her as if they were scratching. Hand over paw? give her lots of treats but only when she goes near the post or when you bring her there. YOu may also want to spray the corners of the furniture with some bitter apple. (it says for dogs, but it works for cats, too.) She will stay away from any areas you spray, but it does wear off eventually. just be sure to test the fabric first, but I never had a problem with fabric bleeding or discoloring.

  10. Hey Ann! You are getting good hints here! I have two Bengals. So get a scratching post or two. I have found that the kind with sisal rope lasts a long time, well worth the $’s. Next hopefully you have a shower with a shower door and a seat – One of my Bengals hates getting his nails trimmed and I find that I can get the job done in the shower. Where he knows he can’t go anywhere. Some days he still tries to prove his point, but I never let him win (kinda like a horse) A little brushing, a little trimming, a little brushing, a little trimming… somedays I can only get a nail or two, but I get them! Use a towel on the seat so slipping snd sliding are minimal, finish things up with a treat.
    My neighbor uses the glue on plastic tips and it works perfect on her Savanahs.
    Good luck!

  11. As there’s nothing to add to the excellent suggestions above regarding scratching posts, trust and time, I can suggest engaging an animal intuitive to ‘translate’ what Lily is trying to communicate to you. When I’ve done this in the past, I’ve noticed my cats immediately relax and I was able to give them what they were requesting.

  12. Lots of good advice above! Our Lily loves to scratch on foam pads! You know the ones that are great to block your knit items!
    So she gets one for herself, and then she leaves mine alone. We have it in the corner of the room out of sight! She does shred them, they don’t last forever, but she does love to use them!
    Have used the double sided tape, works too! But she does need something to scratch on!

  13. I have exactly the same problem about clipping claws. Not only is the furniture getting ruined but whenever they (2 rescued cats) jump off my lap, they dig their claws in.
    I talked to a relative who is a vet and she suggested getting a mild tranquilizer from your own vet prior to attempting to clip. I’ve had my cats for over a year and they are still anxious about certain things.

  14. Soft Paws work great for indoor cats, but it sounds like they would be difficult for you to get them on. There are some excellent suggestions on the web site. You would definitely need help to apply them. Good luck, Ann!

  15. Hi, Ann – my cat, who came to us as a stray at about one year of age, hates to have his claws clipped. Of the dozen or so cats I’ve had in my lifetime, he is definitely the worst in this regard! I’ve found that the best approach is to clip as gently as possible when he is deep asleep; even though he wakes up, he generally is relaxed enough that he’ll let me do several claws before starting to resist. As soon as he protests, I stop!!! If you attempt to overpower your cat or chase her, this will make matters worse – it increases her anxiety and associates being clipped with the experience of being pursued. I doubt she will ever drop her objections entirely , but using this approach along with scratching posts should at least keep those claws in a reasonable state of de-militarization. Good luck!

  16. I agree with all the hints, especially the ones about providing scratching posts of whatever type your cat prefers. (It’s not about you, it’s about her.) Go pharmaceutical if you need to; Pill Pockets may help with that aspect. If you go that route, Soft Paws (caps that go over the claws) may become viable. And above all, be patient, and be happy with clipping only one or two claws at a time, especially if you can catch her napping.

  17. It takes time, and patience.

    I have 5 cats, each one is different. I get them when they are deep asleep, clip one nail, go away fast. Next day, stalk them for deep sleep, repeat. They eventually get used to it, and you can do many nails at a time, and they don’t even bother to open their eyes. My youngest will not allow me to get near her nails, so my hubby holds her up for me while I do the job as fast as I can. But it has to be done at their own pace.

    I find using the right the tool very important: are so inexpensive and will last forever. Stay away from human clippers, they will cause long term damage to your cat’s nails.

    Please keep in mind the cat is not doing any of this out of spite, she’s acting her instincts out, be gentle to her or she’ll never trust you and resent you. Cats don’t understand punishment, so don’t bother, instead reinforce good behavior. This they get fast! 🙂

    Also, I’m surprised no-one mentioned Feliway, the plug-in type:

    And any book by Pam She’s a great expert and you will become one, in time.

    And watch “My Cat from Hell” by Jason Galaxy to see real life examples of owners not getting their cats, and how easy it is to fix that 🙂

    Best luck with your kitty!

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