How to Cut Your Cat’s Nails with a Nail Grinder or Dremel Tool

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Cat’s nails continue to grow and cutting them can be a challenge for some cat owners. This depends on the cat, his personality and the cat owner’s ability to trim the nails.

There are various styles of nail trimmers available on the market. For an overview of them – go to Nail Trimmers for Cats. For details on how to cut your cat’s nails using the traditional trimmers such as the Guillotine style or Miller forge trimmers – go to Trimming Your Cat’s Toenails.

Below – we will give you information on how to cut your cat’s nails using a nail grinder. The nail grinder is essentially a drummel or dremel-styled tool – a small electric oscillating rotary tool with a belt of sandpaper. They are commonly used by handymen to sand, grind or cut wood in a workshop.

There are pet nail grinders styled after these tools that include a protective plastic shell around the grinder that allows a pet nail to enter and thus be grounded or shortened.

How to use a nail grinder on your cat

  1. Ideally, Start young. Get your cat used to touching his paws and give him positive reinforcement when he lets you massage and manipulate the paws and nails. The earlier you start clipping or grinding your cat’s claws, the more used to it he will be. Frequent trims when your cat is young will help diminish any fear. Have your veterinarian show you how to do it the first time.

  2. Start slowly and work up to it gradually.

  3. Learn the anatomy. Within the center of each toenail is the blood and nerve supply for the nail called the quick. In clear white nails you can see the quick, a pinkish area in the middle of the nail. Cutting or grinding into the quick will result in pain and bleeding.

  4. Determine how much needs to be cut. Before you start grinding, determine how much needs to be trimmed. The basic rule of thumb is that the nail, which curls downward, should be even with the paw pad. Whatever hangs over must be clipped.

  5. Get started. Some cats will happily sit in your lap or on a table while you grind their nails but most require some form of restraint. You may want to sit on the floor with your pet, hold your pet in your lap, or have someone hold your cat on a table. Eyeball the quick and aim a few millimeters away from it. If you cut into the quick, referred to as “quicking,” it will hurt your cat and the nail will bleed.

  6. Introduce the nail grinder to your cat. Pet him with it and make it a positive experience. You may want to do this for several sessions before ever introducing it as a nail grinder or before turning it on.

  7. Turn it on. Turn on the nail grinder and pet your cat with it. You may also want to do this over several sessions before using it on your cat’s nails.

  8. After your cat is used to the nail grinder turned on – use it to cut his nails. Grind the nail below the quick.

  9. Although you will take great care not to hurt your pet, sometimes accidents happen and you will cut or grind into the quick. Have silver nitrate products on hand – you can get them at your veterinarian’s office or pet store. You can also use flour or cornstarch to stop the bleeding. If that doesn’t work, apply a light bandage for about 15 minutes. If the bleeding continues, call your veterinarian.


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