How to trim overgrown cat paws

Easy Guide to Trimming Overgrown Thick Cat Claws at Home

As any cat owner knows, those adorable little paws can sometimes come with a catch – quite literally.

Overgrown and thick claws can turn a sweet moment of petting into a painful experience.

For our feline friends, improperly maintained claws can lead to a host of issues, from snagging on carpets to more severe health concerns.

Let’s jump into why keeping those claws in check is crucial for your cat‘s wellbeing.

Recognizing Overgrown Claws

Overgrown claws are more than just an inconvenience; they can be a clear sign of discomfort for your cat and, in some cases, a health issue waiting to happen.

I’ve gathered some key indicators that tell me when it’s time for a claw check-up.

First off, I listen for the sound of their claws clicking on hard surfaces. This is a dead giveaway that those nails have grown too long.

It’s something I’ve noticed, especially with my indoor cats, who aren’t naturally wearing down their claws through outdoor activities.

Another sign is when my cat‘s claws start snagging on carpets, furniture, or even my clothes more often than before. It’s not just annoying; it’s a signal that those claws need attention.

I also take a visual inspection seriously.

An overgrown claw curls downward and can sometimes grow back into the pad, causing pain and possibly infection.

It’s one of those sights that immediately tells me my cat needs a trim.

Plus, if my cat starts licking its paws more than usual or shows signs of discomfort while walking, it’s often due to overgrown claws affecting its paw pads.

Finally, behavior changes are a big indicator. If my cat becomes more withdrawn or avoids jumping on surfaces it usually enjoys, it might be due to the discomfort from overgrown claws.

This is particularly common in older cats who might not be as active and can’t naturally maintain their claw length.

What Causes Overgrown Cat Claws?

In my journey as a cat owner and veterinarian, I’ve learned that several factors contribute to overgrown cat claws.

It’s not just about their age or lifestyle; it’s a mix of elements that can lead to sharp, uncomfortable nails that need more attention than we might think.

No Physical Activity

Lack of physical activity plays a huge role.

I’ve noticed that indoor cats are particularly prone to overgrown claws. They simply don’t get the same natural wear and tear on their nails that outdoor cats do.

No Outdoor Activities

Climbing trees, walking on rough surfaces, and other outdoor activities naturally help keep their claws in check.

But my couch potato kitties?

Not so much. They need a bit more help from me to keep their claws at a healthy length.


Age is another critical factor.

Kittens and senior cats are at opposite ends of the spectrum but face similar issues.

Kittens’ claws don’t shed as easily, leading to buildup and overgrowth.

On the other hand, senior cats may become less active or suffer from arthritis, making it difficult for them to maintain their claws.

I’ve seen firsthand how my older cat struggles more with her claw care than she used to.


Finally, there’s the genetic and health aspect. Some cats, regardless of their lifestyle or age, just tend to have faster-growing nails.

Or, if they’re overweight or have other health issues, they might not groom as effectively, leading to overgrown claws.

A combination of these factors can lead to overgrown, thick cat claws. Recognizing the causes is the first step in addressing the issue and ensuring our feline friends stay comfortable and happy.

Keeping a close eye on their claws, providing them with adequate play and scratching posts, and regular grooming can make a world of difference.

Do Overgrown Claws Hurt My Cat?

My cat doesn’t speak human, but their behavior and physical cues speak volumes.

As I learned, overgrown claws are not just an aesthetic concern for cats—they’re a significant source of discomfort and potential pain.

Overgrown claws (also called hyperkeratosis) can curve inward, growing back into the paw pads.

This unnatural growth pattern doesn’t just make for an uncomfortable walk—it can lead to puncture wounds in the paw pads, a situation that’s as painful as it sounds.

Overgrown claws can also impact a cat‘s posture and gait.

My cat‘s claws, when left untrimmed, change the way they walk, putting undue stress on their joints and potentially leading to long-term musculoskeletal issues.

It’s akin to wearing ill-fitting shoes for a prolonged period—you just wouldn’t, right?

Also, the daily activities my cat once enjoyed, like climbing and exploring, became burdensome chores because of their overextended claws catching on everything from the carpet to the curtains.

It’s heartbreaking to see your agile friend reduced to tentative steps because their tools—their claws—are no longer serving them as they should.

What To Do If Your Cat Has Overgrown Claws?

Discovering your cat‘s overgrown claws might initially cause you a bit of worry. However, it’s entirely manageable with a few steps, and it won’t hurt your feline friend.

When I first noticed my cat‘s claws getting a bit too long and thick, I knew I had to do something.

The first thing I did was get a proper claw trimmer. These are specially designed for pets, ensuring a safe and clean cut without splitting or damaging their nails.

Best Cat Nail Clipper
Cat Nail Clipper - Professional Cat Claw trimmer & Cat Claw Clipper
$5.99 $3.99

Ensure precise and comfortable grooming for your small pets with Pet Boussa Cat Nail Clippers, featuring ergonomically designed non-slip handles and high-quality stainless steel sharp blades for durability and ease of use.

Ideal for cats, these lightweight clippers come with a satisfaction guarantee or your money back, making them a risk-free addition to your grooming toolkit.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/20/2024 10:24 am GMT

I’d highly suggest not using human nail clippers as they’re not shaped correctly for a cat‘s claws, which could result in injury.

Next, I made trimming sessions as stress-free as possible. I started by gently handling my cat‘s paws regularly when we were just relaxing together so they got used to the sensation.

I’d press the pad gently to extend the claw and talk to my cat in a soothing voice to keep them calm. This prep work made the actual trimming much easier.

It’s crucial to identify the transparent part of the nail, often referred to as the ‘quick’, which contains blood vessels and nerves. Cutting into it can cause pain, so always trim just the overgrown tip.

If you’re apprehensive about this, I’ve found that consulting a vet or a professional groomer the first few times can be incredibly helpful.

They can demonstrate the correct technique and give you confidence.

Sometimes, due to age or health issues like arthritis, cats might not naturally wear down their claws. This means more frequent checks and possibly more regular trimming sessions.

My senior cat, for instance, requires a bit more care in this department. Her claws thicken and grow fast, so we’re on a strict bi-weekly trimming schedule.

For those with cats who hide their paws or dislike being handled, creating a positive association with the process can make a massive difference.

I use treats and lots of praise during and after trimming to let my cat know she’s done a great job. Over time, she’s become much more cooperative.

How To Prevent Overgrown Claws?

Preventing overgrown claws in cats is quite manageable with a bit of attention and care.

The key is early and regular maintenance, which not only keeps their nails in check but also fosters a bond between me and my feline friends.

Here’s how I’ve managed to keep overgrown claws at bay.

Provide Scratching Posts

Cats naturally trim their nails through scratching.

By providing multiple scratching posts throughout the house, I encourage this natural behavior.

Perfect For All Cat Sizes
SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post – Beige, Large 32 Inch Tower SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post – Beige, Large 32 Inch Tower

Meet your cat's new best friend, the SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post! Crafted with durable sisal fiber, this scratcher is built to withstand the mightiest of claws without the mess of snagged fabrics.

It's tall and strong, giving kitties of all sizes the perfect stretch spot. Say goodbye to claw marks on your furniture as your feline finds a healthier way to satisfy their scratching urges. And don't worry about a complicated setup; with just a couple of screws, you'll have it standing in no time. Plus, its modern, neutral design fits beautifully with your home decor.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/20/2024 10:28 am GMT

Scratching posts made of different materials offer a variety of textures for my cat to enjoy. This not only helps keep their claws at an appropriate length but also keeps cats off furniture.

Monitor Their Health

This step is particularly important for senior cats.

As they age, their claws can become thicker and more prone to overgrowth.

Regular health checks help me catch any issues early on.

For cats with arthritis or other health conditions that make regular trimming challenging, I’ve found that creating a calm environment and trimming while they are asleep can be less stressful for both of us.

Create a Positive Association

I always pair trimming sessions with treats and praise. Over time, this has helped my cat associate nail trimming with positive experiences, making them more cooperative during sessions.

Through these methods, I’ve been able to manage my cat‘s claw length effectively.

Regular monitoring and care have ensured that my cat‘s claws remain healthy and at a comfortable length, preventing any potential issues linked to overgrown nails.

Wrapping Up

Tackling overgrown or ingrown cat claws doesn’t have to be challenging. With the right tools and a sprinkle of patience, I’ve found that creating a stress-free trimming experience is entirely possible.

I’ve learned that a little love, coupled with some tasty treats, makes paw handling a breeze. So next time you notice your cat‘s claws getting a bit too long, don’t fret.

Grab those pet-specific trimmers, set the stage for a calm session, and you’ll be surprised at how smoothly things can go.

After all, it’s these small acts of care that strengthen our bond with our pets, making every moment together even more special.

Similar Posts