The 6 Best Cat Nail Clippers of 2022

Proper grooming can be safer and healthier for your cat and your furniture.

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Most pet owners don’t think about their cat's nail until the couch becomes a scratching post. But cat nail clippers can be useful for more than just saving your furniture. Maintaining your cat's claw length can also make them more comfortable.

“Nail trims are great for cats if they are getting their nails caught in blankets, or on the carpet, or if they are scratching people accidentally,” Dr. Chyrle Bonk DVM, a mixed animal veterinarian at a clinic in Orofino, Idaho, told The Spruce Pets. "Nail trims may also be necessary for older cats that may not be sharpening their nails regularly. If nails get too long, they can grow into the foot pads which can be very painful and cause an infection.”

But trimming a cat’s nails can take a little practice and caution. It's possible to hurt your cat if nail trimming isn't handled properly.

“Only trim your cat’s nails if you feel comfortable and have been shown how by a veterinarian or a professional groomer. Trimming your cat’s nails too short can be painful and make them unwilling to let you do it again," Dr. Bonk said. "One of the main things to look for in nail clippers for cats is how easy they are to use.”

Ease of use also extends to your comfort. One of the first things to look for in a pair of cat nail clippers is that they fit easily in your hands, so you can feel confident maneuvering them around your cat's sensitive paws. The ability to use a pair of clippers one-handed is also key, since you'll want your other hand for holding your cat during the process.

Because cat nails are hollow and much more delicate than dog or other small animal nails, they are more brittle and often fray when cut, making sharpness another key factor to consider when picking cat nail clippers.

“You want something that will quickly trim the nail, not crush it," said Dr. Bonk. "Dull clippers may break the nail rather than cut it and be painful for your cat.”

For more detail on factors to consider when shopping, check out the What to Look for in Cat Nail Clippers section below. Or check out The Spruce Pets guide to trimming your cat's nails for more details.

Below are the best cat nail clippers available today. You might need to try more than one option before you find the pair that is right for both you and your cat.

Our Top Picks
"The angled blade of this scissor-style clipper makes it easier to see and manipulate each nail for a clean, quick cut."
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"The For Paws clippers have comfortable, ergonomic grip handles with a sharp, stainless steel cutting surface."
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"The guillotine mechanism makes quick, clean cuts, and there's only ever one blade that needs replacing or sharpening."
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"These clippers have several useful features, including a nail file, but the main attraction is its convenient LED light."
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"Pet Republique Cat Nail Clippers are small, but with grips large enough to maneuver around tiny kitten claws."
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"It’s much harder to make mistakes with the help of the built-in safety guard on these clippers."
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Best Overall: Shiny Pet Pet Nail Clippers for Small Animals

Shiny Pet Pet Nail Clippers for Small Animals
What We Like
  •  Semi-circular angled blades

  • Affordable and efficient

  • Comfortable grip

What We Don't Like
  • No safety guard

We like the sturdy, stainless steel and user-friendly curve of the Shiny Pet Nail Clippers for Small Animals. The angled blade of this scissor-style clipper makes it easier to see and manipulate each nail for a clean, quick cut. They’re appropriate for cats and kittens of all ages as well as a range of small animals.  

Pet parents and professionals like the rubberized coating on the handles, which enables a secure grip for a fast, efficient, and safe trim. They’re also lightweight and compact for easy use and storage. All Shiny Pet grooming tools are backed by a lifetime money-back guarantee.

Shiny Pet Nail Clippers

The Spruce Pets / Camryn Rabideau 

Best Budget: Four Paws Magic Coat Professional Series Cat Nail Clipper

Four Paws Magic Coat Professional Series Cat Nail Clipper
What We Like
  •  Suitable for cats of all ages

  • Also appropriate for small dogs

What We Don't Like
  • Made in China

While there are a lot of cheap cat nail clippers out there, too many exercise poor quality control and cut corners, making them unpleasant to use. Four Paws Magic Coat Professional Series Cat Claw Clippers are a major exception, offering budget clippers that professional groomers wouldn't be embarrassed to deploy.

The Four Paws scissor-style clippers have a stainless steel surgical cutting edge, ensuring long-lasting sharpness. The molded handle and simple design helps you work quickly to lessen your cat's discomfort. Plus, the clippers feature rounded safety tips to prevent accidental poking.

Best Guillotine: Resco Original Dog, Cat, and Pet Nail/Claw Clippers

Resco Original Dog, Cat, and Pet Nail/Claw Clippers
What We Like
  • Replaceable blade

  • Made in the USA

  • Resco has been making nail clippers since 1937

What We Don't Like
  • If not used properly, they can crush the nail instead of cutting it cleanly

Most of us would prefer that the word “guillotine” wasn’t associated with our cat’s delicate claws, but it's an apt description for this effective cutting design, which works a little like a cigar cutter. If kept properly sharpened, the guillotine mechanism makes quick, clean cuts. Plus, there's only one blade that ever needs replacing or sharpening.

We like the Resco Deluxe Cat Nail Trimmer for a number of reasons. Very few cat nail trimmers are made in the United States, but Resco has been making American-made, quality tools since 1937. Unlike most other cat nail clippers, Resco’s clipper contains no plastic parts, plus the blade is replaceable. Each pair comes with a limited lifetime warranty and the deluxe version includes comfortable, non-slip handle grips.

What Testers Say

"I have owned and used a larger pair for many years. We’ve only needed to sharpen them once and the spring-action design has enabled a consistently smooth, quick cut without fail. This smaller size in red is also appropriate for use with birds, lizards, ferrets, bunnies and other small animals fewer than ten pounds."—Lorraine Wilde, Spruce Pets Contributer

Best with Light: JANEHOME Nail Clippers and Trimmers with LED Light

JANEHOME Nail Clippers and Trimmers with LED Light
What We Like
  • Built in nail file for smoothing rough edges

  • Easy on/off light switch

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Available under different names from different distributors

  • Plate covering the battery port can get a little loose

  • Requires specialized batteries

Nail clippers with a built-in light can help you discern the pink interior of the nail, known as the quick, so you can avoid cutting too much and potentially hurting your pet. The JANEHOME nail clippers have several useful features, including a nail file that can be stored in the handle, but the main attraction is its simple to use LED light.

Activated with a switch in the handle, the bright LED lights up the semi-translucent portion of your cat's claw, so you can more easily discern where the quick begins, protecting you from cutting too deeply. While the light is convenient, replacing the batteries is a little more of a chore, requiring three LR44 button batteries. Still, with more than a year of expected battery life, it's not much of a trade off.

Made in China, this particular nail clipper form can be found sold under several different brand names, but in our experience the JANEHOME version is the most reliably available. Also, while advertised for both dogs and cats, the clippers are on the smaller side and might not be effective for larger dog nails—but they're perfect for cat claws.

Best for Kittens: Pet Republique Cat Nail Clipper

Pet Republique Nail Clipper
What We Like
  • Designed for small animals

  • 90-day money back guarantee and four year warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Made in China

Kitten toes may be tiny, but those little nails are sharp and kittens love to scratch. Plus, since they don't have an adult cat's coordination, it's common for kittens to snag their claws on everything. Trimming their nails regularly can help your furniture survive their adolescence.

Pet Republique Cat Nail Clippers are small and scissor-style, with textured handles that have large enough grips to fit a thumb and two fingers—more than enough leverage and control for handling kitty claws. The stainless, half-moon blades make for quick work, so kitty can get back to playing. Plus, Pet Republique donates 15% of profits to American Animal Rescue Society, so each purchase helps save the life of a dog or cat.

Best Safety Guard: Gonicc Pets Nail Clippers and Trimmers with Safety Guard

Gonicc Pets Nail Clippers and Trimmers with Safety Guard
What We Like
  • Child safety lock

What We Don't Like
  • Not widely available in pet stores

  • Too large for kittens

If you’ve ever cut too much of the nail, then you know the value of a safety guard. Cutting into the quick will cause pain and bleeding, and may also cause your pet to hide when they see the clippers come out next time.

Gonicc Pet Nail Clippers have a built-in safety guard to protect your cat from distress. The guard works by blocking one side of the clippers, so your cat's nails can only project a short distance into the space between cutting blades. However, since the Gonicc clippers are designed for both cats and small dogs, it's still important to watch closely to prevent nicking the quick of the nail, since it's possible that smaller cat nails may project too far into the clippers, even with the safety guard.

These clippers have several other useful features as well, including stainless steel blades, a safety lock, an included nail file, and a spring to ensure enough leverage is applied to cut cleanly.

Final Verdict

Shiny Pet Nail Clippers for Small Animals (view at Amazon) are an excellent choice because they’re simple, effective and have been extensively tested by The Spruce Pets. If you’re trying to reduce the plastic in your life and place a premium on long-term durability, consider the Resco Deluxe Cat Nail Trimmer (view at Chewy). Their stainless steel design has been a top choice among veterinarians, technicians and pet parents since 1932. It is one of the few cat nail clippers made in the United States and designed with a replaceable blade.

What to Look For in Cat Nail Clippers

Style & Materials

There are a few styles of cat nail clippers to choose from. You’ll find some that look and work like simple scissors, with or without springs to help them reopen after each cut. These are generally made of stainless steel and many have rubber or foam coatings on the handles to make the grip more comfortable and less prone to slipping.

Others use a plier design, where your hand squeezes two handles from the outside inward, also with or without spring action. Many of these have stainless steel blades and either metal, plastic, or rubber coated metal handles. Some of the plastic handles have a space for a nail file. Some brands might include a light that shines on the cutting surface, usually with batteries stored in a plastic handle compartment. Some also include a safety guard made of clear plastic or metal that rests behind the cutting surface. This guard prevents pet parents from cutting too much of a nail in a single cut. Some like the added safety of a guard while others, including some professionals, find a safety guard cumbersome.

There are also guillotine style clippers. These use a single cutting surface that is drawn across another stationary surface. That is usually done with or without spring action by squeezing a movable handle downward to meet a stationary handle that supports the stationary surface. Benefits of a guillotine mechanism over other designs are a quick, clean cut and the fact that you can replace or sharpen a single cutting surface when they get dull.

If you cut a lot of nails—such as while working as a groomer or veterinary technician—pay special attention to the ergonomics of the clipper. That includes the shape of the handles, how they contact your hand, whether you feel any discomfort while cutting and how slippery they feel. Using clippers that don’t feel comfortable in your hand upon repeated use could set you up for discomfort, or even repetitive motion injuries.

Lastly, consider handedness. Some scissor-style clippers won’t work properly when used in your left hand. That can result in crushing the nail instead of clean cuts. Check the packaging and product description before you buy.

Business Ethics

A product can be offered very cheaply and on a global scale, but that convenience sometimes comes at the expense and/or exploitation of a company’s workers. Whenever possible, spend your hard earned dollars with companies that pay their workers a living wage, provide a safe working environment and give back to the communities that help them grow and succeed. The term “fair trade” often encompasses these ideals.

Check the “About” section of a company’s website for clues to their environmental and social responsibility. That’s where they’ll often list fair trade practices and any third party certifications as well as charitable programs in which they participate such as 1% for the Planet. Many pet supply manufacturers donate some of their products or financial support to animal shelters and pet hospitals. Whenever possible, choose companies and manufacturers that mirror your own environmental and social values.

FAQ
  • Can I use nail clippers for people on my cat?

    “Nail clippers for people can be used on cats as long as they’re sharp,” says Dr. Bonk. “You’ll want to use a larger size on larger cats or for longer nails, since cat nails are thicker than a human’s and little nail clippers might not be big enough to properly handle them. Scissor-type nail clippers may also be used to trim nails that have overgrown and curled into a circle.”

  • Can cat nail clippers be sharpened?

    A sharp cutting surface is important to prevent cat nails from being crushed instead of cut in the trimming process. Dull clippers will cause the nail to crack and fray, rather than being trimmed cleanly. But whether the clippers can be sharpened depends on the clipper you choose, what tools you have at home and how comfortable you are using them.

    Many cat nail clippers are designed so that the cutting surfaces can be replaced or sharpened (such as Resco, above). Like sharpening household scissors or kitchen knives, you can take them to a professional for sharpening for a small fee, or if you’re comfortable and capable, you can sharpen them yourself at home. There are a large number of detailed videos available online to guide you through sharpening your cat nail clippers when they start to become dull. But be careful if you’re trying to sharpen them on your own for the first time as you can injure yourself in the process if you don’t use proper safety precautions.

  • Can you use a nail grinder on a cat?

    “Nail grinders are great tools for trimming the nails of some willing dogs. However, you may be hard pressed to find a cat that will allow it,” says Dr. Bonk. “The noise and vibration may be more than even a laid back cats can handle. You’ll also need to be extra careful because nail grinders trim nails very quickly. Cat nails aren’t as thick as dog nails so they can easily be ground too short in very little time.”

    If you are among the few confident enough to use a grinder, with a cat willing to tolerate, we recommend the Casfuy Upgraded Professional Rechargable Electric Pet Nail Trimmer.

Why Trust The Spruce Pets?

This piece was written by Lorraine Wilde who has had at least two cat companions in her home for the past 35 years including some special needs kitties. Two of her cats lived happily and healthily into their early 20s. She’s also been a dog owner throughout that time, clipping cat and dog nails every few months for decades.

When researching these brands, Lorraine evaluated the type and quality of each product, customer reviews, the company’s research and development, and their business ethics.

Lorraine also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in environmental science. She is a firm believer that consumers can make healthy, informed and environmentally-conscious choices to protect their pets and our planet.

Dr. Chyrle Bonk, DVM graduated from Oregon State University in 2010 and has practiced in the mixed animal clinic, Clearwater Valley Veterinary Clinic in Orofino, Idaho ever since. On top of treating animals and writing for various veterinary magazines and websites, including Hepper.com, Dr. Bonk also owns a small cattle herd. When she's not doing those things, she can be found somewhere in the Idaho wilderness with her husband and two kids.