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Can You Use Your Dog’s Nail Clippers on Cats? Vet-Approved Facts & Guide

Kit Copson

By Kit Copson

Cat groomer clips a cat's nails during a grooming session

Vet approved

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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As multi-fluff parents ourselves, we know only too well how costs for various products can stack up. As a result, we’re always on the lookout for single items that can be used on both our dogs and our cats. One of these items is nail clippers—dog nail clippers can be used on cats in most instances, but there are still some factors to take into account.

Let’s explore this further.

Are Dog Nail Clippers Safe for Cats?

For the most part, yes—you can safely use nail clippers designed for dogs on cats. However, there are some things to bear in mind when deciding whether or not to do this, most especially how big the clippers are.

Clipper Size

Large nail clippers might do more harm than good as it’s easier to cut off too much and end up hitting the quick, which is the pink part that runs partway through the nail. The quick is where the blood vessels and nerve endings are, so cutting into this area will make it bleed and will be painful for your cat, so it should be avoided at all costs. Instead, you should aim for only the clear part at the tip of the nail. If your cat has dark-colored nails, the quick may be impossible to see, so it’s crucial to be careful and only cut the very ends.

For cats, you might want to consider going for scissor-style nail clippers, as a cat’s nails are smaller and less tough than those of a dog. Scissor-style clippers have a more natural feel when we use them, so they give you better control and will help you avoid cutting off too much of the nail.

Close up cat's face when owner use pink clippers for clip cat's nails
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock


It’s fine to use your dog’s nail clippers on your cat as long as they’re an appropriate size and are sharp enough. Using blunt clippers can make the process slower, more stressful, and can make it more likely that the nail splits.

Tips for Trimming a Cat’s Nails

We’ve been there and we get it—trimming your cat’s nails, especially for the first time, can be something of an ordeal. To help you feel more prepared, here are some tips on how to approach nail trimming on a cat:

Pick a Good Time

If your cat is in a playful mood, they’re more likely to try and grab the nail clipper than let you put it anywhere near their feet, so pick a time when your cat is super chilled out before you start. A good time, for example, might be when they’re stretched out and snoozing on the couch.

man using nail clipper trimming nails for a cat at home
Image Credit: Freer, Shutterstock

Recruit a Helper

If your cat moves about a lot, it might be helpful to ask someone else to hold your cat and reassure them while you trim their nails.

Desensitize Your Cat

If your cat has never encountered nail clippers, they’ll likely be scared of them, so it’s best to start desensitizing your cat to the sight and sound of the clippers and the feeling of you touching their paws days or even weeks in advance.

Try touching and gently squeezing your cat’s paw pads regularly, as you’ll need to do this to get the nail to extend when you trim. To get them used to the clipper, leave it out so they can interact with it and sniff it as they please, and, to acclimatize them to the sound, you can sit next to them while cutting pieces of dry spaghetti or noodles with the clippers.

Reward your cat with a treat, praise, or a play session every time they’re calm around the clipper or tolerate the sound to create positive associations.

sitting on window sill owner woman girl hand touching muzzle or giving food on finger
Image Credit: Alexandra Morosanu, Shutterstock

Try the Blanket Trick

If your cat is especially uncooperative, you can try wrapping them up like a burrito in a towel with one leg out to help keep them in a secure position while you trim and prevent accidents. Whether or not you do this depends on your cat, though. Most cats tolerate this really well; however, some cats find it too stressful.

Trim at an Angle

Instead of trimming in a straight line, cut the nail at a 45-degree angle. This angle is more comfortable for your cat because of the way the nail touches the ground.

owner uses pink clippers tp clip cats nails
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

Give It Time

It’s okay not to finish all 10 nails at once—when your cat has had enough, let them go and come back to the procedure later to avoid stressing them out too much. It’s completely fine to do a few nails or even just one nail at a time over several sittings or days.

Have Styptic Powder on Hand

If you cut into the quick by accident, you can stop the bleeding by applying styptic powder and a little pressure to the area.

Final Thoughts

To recap, you can certainly use your dog’s nail clippers on your cat, but it’s best if they’re of the smaller variety. Scissor-style clippers are a good option for a cat’s small nails. It’s also a good idea to desensitize your cat to the clippers by allowing them to become accustomed to the sight, smell, and sound before you use them.

Featured Image Credit: Oleggg, Shutterstock

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