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What To Do If You Overcut Your Cat’s Nails

 by danielle on 23 Aug 2014 |
31 Comment(s)
Clipping a cat’s nails is no easy task. Keeping a struggling cat still while trying to get the clippers around the right nail and making sure not to take off too much is challenging to say the least. Inevitably, accidents sometimes happen. 
If you cut the quick of a cat’s nail they won’t be happy. The quick contains highly sensitive blood vessels and nerve endings, similar to the pink part of a human fingernail. Bleeding, pain – and possibly a scratch for you – will result from accidently trimming the nail too far.  
Try to keep a hold of your cat if you do interfere with the quick. Squeeze the tip of the claw to reduce the flow of blood, being careful to not to apply pressure to the entire paw which will have the opposite effect and increase blood flow.
It is advisable to keep styptic powder or a styptic pencil in your grooming kit as this can be used to quickly contract the blood vessels of an open wound. If you do not have access to styptic products, rubbing the nail with cornstarch or over a dry bar of soap can also help.
Whilst painful, an overcut nail is not a serious injury and should heal relatively quickly. However, your cat’s suspicions of the nail-cutting process are likely to be longer lasting. It may take time and effort to convince them they are unlikely to suffer further pain when they see you coming towards them with the clippers.
To reassure them, we recommend regularly massaging your cat’s paws when they are relaxed and giving them a treat to create positive associations before attempting another clipping session again. 



angela - Comment
angela17 Jul 2018Reply
Today was the first time since I've owned my cat (8 years) that I have cut her nail too short and made her yelp and bleed. I sobbed after for about 30 minutes. Thank you for this advice. She is a sweet girl and she seemed to forgive me pretty quickly, (headbutts) however...I had a hard time forgiving myself. Thanks for the article. I worry about her being in pain now every time she has to use that paw, to scratch the litter or walk, etc. So awful. Glad to know it should heal quickly.
Steven - Comment
Steven17 Jul 2018Reply
I just had the same situation with my boy. He is handling it FAR better than I am.
Kelly - Comment
Kelly17 Jul 2018Reply
Same exact thing just happened to me...clipped my baby's nail too short, she yelped and screamed, I looked and there was blood. I yelled for my husband to come into the room and he applied pressure to the nail while I sobbed my eyes off and stuffed her with treats 😂she was so happy and probably immediately forgot about the incident, while I'm still shaken!
Stephanie Ray - Comment
Stephanie Ray17 Jul 2018Reply
I cut my kittens nail too far and I am heart broken and in pain for him. He seems okay but wow I feel HORRIBLE.
Lilmarimoo - Comment
Lilmarimoo17 Jul 2018Reply
I just did the same thing to my cat and at first, he was ok, but when I went to apply the soap he went crazy and i still ill feel so horrible.
Boo Boo - Comment
Boo Boo17 Jul 2018Reply
Kitty forgives you. (Just no soap next time, better to let it heal on its own.)
Adrian - Comment
Adrian17 Jul 2018Reply
Makes me feel better to know I'm not alone.
I was scuffing my cat while my best friend, who is in the animal care business, clipped his nails. I'm not afraid to do it on my own and usually just sneak a couple clips in while he is calm or relaxed, but figured I would accept the helping hand while I could. Everything was going smoothly as usual but she ended up clipping into the quick while on the 3rd nail. She was pretty nonchalant about it, but once I saw my cat's blood I was instantly guilt stricken, heart broken, you name it.
My friend kept telling me that my cat would be okay and it happens. However, I can't let go of the fact that my baby trusted me unconditionally and I've told him over and over I would never put him in a situation where he could get hurt but I did and he was hurt because of my decisions. Now I feel like I've betrayed his trust and vow to be the one to clip his nails, with the utmost caution, from her on out.
Christie - Comment
Christie17 Jul 2018Reply
Broke my heart, kitten is fine
Melissa  - Comment
Melissa 22 Jan 2020Reply
I just did the same with one of my girl cats. She is fine with me and playing with the other cats, but my fiancee just yelled me for it and made me scared because he said it would cause an infection and such. I also sobbed for like 30 minutes. I feel so bad and I used cornstarch to stop the bleeding because i dont have a styptic pencil.
indy - Comment
indy22 Jan 2020Reply
girl your husband sounds like trash for yelling at you like that. dump the husband and keep the cat. win win. hope your kitty is all well now
Melanie Pearson - Comment
Melanie Pearson22 Jan 2020Reply
If your fiancé yelled you for half an hour, then he doesnt deserve to be your fiancé. This is a red flag honey. He’s allowed to be cross but he should be reassuring you that accidents happen.
Katrina - Comment
Katrina01 Jun 2020Reply
I accidentally just did this. I am more mad and sad than my cat. I will never trim them again.. she'll have to go to a groomer. I feel so bad!!
jannaschroeder@ymail.com - Comment
never give all your trust to groomers!!! watch some of the videos of bad groomers on youtube! you will change your mind!! it's easy to get scared about doing it, but once you do it a few times, you will get the hang of it and so will your cat,, I do not let anyone else trim my cats claws but a vet during surgery, YOU have to gain your confidence back and learn how to do this yourself,, i did have a finicky cat that I could only trim his claws while he was sleeping! but I did it! I have five cats now I trim them all! you will become a pro in no time! and not have to waste money on someone you do not know very well!
stinky - Comment
stinky01 Jun 2020Reply
Hey, it like every other things in life, there's fantastic groomers out there, you can just go read their reviews and all. Not all groomers are trash like you mention. I will never gain confidence because my cat get mad af so I will leave to the professional.
Anja  - Comment
Anja 05 Jul 2020Reply
I had the same accident and I was so scared I was bawling my eyes out and I was so scared for my cat my baby boy and thanks for this advice because it was bleeding and I was so freaking mad you got all over my floor and stuff like that and I’m so glad that this helped.
Mike - Comment
Mike21 Jul 2020Reply
I cut my 5 week old kittens nails because they were getting very long There was some blood not a lot less then a drop on the edge is it ok or does he need a vet?
Sara - Comment
Sara23 Jul 2020Reply
I cut a 6-8 week old kitten's nails too short. About 3 of them. 2 of them bled really badly. I used corn starch and applied pressure on the spots I cut too short. The bleeding has stopped. Is there anything else I should do? Also, can you apply tea tree oil to prevent infection?
Natalie - Comment
Natalie23 Jul 2020Reply
Don't use tea tree oil...it's toxic to cats and dogs
Carolyn - Comment
Carolyn20 Sep 2020Reply
I have cut my cat's nails his whole life and never had a problem (though I did worry each time I would possibly cut too short). I brought my daughter's cat to the vet I had used for other problems and after I picked him up I saw he was limping. The pad of his foot was swollen and I could see they cut his nails (I did not ask them to). You cannot see the nail at all. I think they cut it too short and they are not owning up to it. They asked that we return so they could give him pain meds...and they charged me!
d. oconnell  - Comment
d. oconnell 12 Oct 2020Reply
40 years of triming nails on Various cats . finally did this on geroge . he gives me a rough time when triming . i felt bad . he seems to ok.. it does happen however ..
John - Comment
John25 Oct 2020Reply
I think the problem is that many of you are trying to cut off as much of the nail as you can. Big mistake! My vet once told me that even if you just cut off a little bit of the nail, it makes a big difference. And it takes a while to grow back. So don't go Boss Hog Wild by cutting off as much as you can, just cut off a little and that's all you need. That's what I have done and never had a problem. Granted you may have to cut the nail again a bit sooner, but it is much better alternative than hurting our fur babys isn't it?
Adrian - Comment
Adrian25 Oct 2020Reply
Yes, this has always been my mentality as well! After my close friend clipped into the quick today, I vow to only do it on my own and just clip a little bit of the nail.
As long as you clip the sharp point on the tip, that's all that's really necessary.
Janna - Comment
Janna29 Oct 2020Reply
I'm curious,,, did ANY of you who trimmed your cat's nails think to watch any VIDEOS on the subject??? like go to youtube and watch videos about where the quick is and how to see it? it's painful to cut the quick and it makes it that much harder to do it the next time because your cat will associate pain with the event and you will soon not be able to find them when you want to trim those nails, or it will become a lethal endeavor to accomplish,, Please watch videos, do some research,, it's not a hard thing to do and EVERYONE does it at least once!, but ONCE is all that should happen.. good luck, and think about how painful it would be if someone cut your fingernail below the grow line!?
Christina - Comment
Christina29 Oct 2020Reply
That sounds a bit judgy. Even trained professional accidentally cut too short. Hope you weren’t meaning it the way it’s coming across.
Aimee - Comment
Aimee29 Oct 2020Reply
Wow, way to make people who already feel terrible feel worse. I think people who trim their cats nails most likely love their pet very much and know what they are doing. But accidents happen. Enjoy being perfect.
Sara - Comment
Sara29 Oct 2020Reply
I have cut my cats’ nails so many times. Sometimes they just move at the wrong time and it gets a little too short. Don’t be so judgey
AC - Comment
AC29 Oct 2020Reply
Oh my god - look out - someone watched some YouTube videos and now they are an expert. There isn’t anyone in this thread that just went crazy cutting as deep as they could because they didn’t know better. Slips and mistakes happen - as you can see. Congrats on your video PhD trash.
Sad Cat Owner - Comment
Sad Cat Owner23 Nov 2020Reply
I'm happy to hear this doesn't cause the cat too much pain, but very disheartened that my baby may not trust me for a while. It's understandable, though. I'm a new cat owner, and although I read a few guides about trimming a cat's nails before doing it myself, I wasn't prepared for how close to the front of the nail the quick actually was. I feel so bad right now. I dipped my kitten's paw in a corn starch water mix a couple times and checked to see if the bleeding stopped. He seems fine now, but he was purring while I was taking care of him, so that shows that he was so afraid- poor baby! I feel like such an awful person.
My poor baby - Comment
My poor baby23 Nov 2020Reply
I've been doing a good job cutting my kitty's nails, but today she moved when I went to clip her nails and I snipped a little too much and it bled a little. I think she trust me because while I was nursing her wound she licked my hand. My poor baby.
Brandi Endicott - Comment
Brandi Endicott30 Nov 2020Reply
OMG I was so scared I cut my kitten's nails all the time and do great tonight I cut to much and I'm so supper sad 😭
Wendy  - Comment
Wendy 07 Dec 2020Reply
Oh my me today and googled this article!!! Hugging her like I maimed her.... good lord I am a grown ass woman with surgical technologist degree and national certification! I was sobbing! Gave her treats and off she went! Thanks for the article, I think it was for me tho and not Salem! Lol
Lauren  - Comment
Lauren 30 Jan 2021Reply
I had this today! First time cutting my cats claws, watched all the videos but she flinched and I cut one claw way too short and felt so awful. Worst cat mum ever :(

She was bleeding and yelped when I did it but isn’t limping and ran around afterwards quite happy. Had a clean of the paw and she’s snuggly and loving now. Might leave it to the vet now...
Justine - Comment
Justine11 Apr 2021Reply
My cat will be 11 years old this year. I’ve had her since she was a 1yr old and have always cut her nails successfully but yesterday afternoon as I was trimming her nails, she moved right as I clipped and I got her quick. Poor baby, I knew right away when she let out a sound I’ve never heard her do while cutting her nails. I blotted it carefully. The bleeding stopped right away. She seems to be okay. I keep thinking her paw may be slightly swollen because she’s been running around & jumping on it a lot. I may be psyching myself out. But just in case she may be in pain or discomfort, I gave her some CBD hemp oil in her food to help with any pain. I’ll be monitoring that paw just to make sure it isn’t actually swelling. I have my vet’s number ready just in case. In the meantime, I’m going to make some homemade saline to put on a Q-tip & carefully apply on her toe. I also bought styptic powder, so hopefully I won’t need to take her to the vet.
Lynne - Comment
Lynne21 Jun 2021Reply
I dropped off my cat at the vet to have his teeth cleaned. In addition to cleaning his teeth they cut off his claws... wicks and all. He was an indoor/outdoor cat, and loved climbing and hunting.
My cat "Sinmin" had to be euthanized shortly after because of some kind of poisoning.
I cannot find out what the consequences are when the wick is cut completely off... Does anyone know?
Thank you.
RT - Comment
RT21 Jun 2021Reply
THIS. This happened when I took my cat to a professional vet dentist. I drove hours just to be sure my cat had the best person for dental surgery, and they cut off all his claws - many to the quick and bled. Without asking me!! And I told them he is and indoor/outdoor cat. Today he is in pain from a back toe that I can’t even get a good look at - likely infected. I am steamed!! My cat keeps his claws the right length all by himself. No reason to trim them at all! He isn’t elderly or infirm. Why do people do this!?
Tina - Comment
Tina29 Sep 2021Reply
Cut my little guy's nails and one was bleeding. I haven't forgiven myself. This happened last night and I'm still upset😢😢😢
Lynne - Comment
Lynne20 Dec 2021Reply
I am the one who originall posted that my cat's vet cut off my cats claws when he went in to have his teeth cleaned. They were Licen not authorize to cut his claws. He was an indoor/outdoor cat. He loved being outdoors mostly. There was no claw left,,, wick and all was gone. The name of the vet facility is Bay State Animal Clinic in Danvers MA. I made them change their authorization form to add that they will only perform what is authorized by the owner. I filed a complaint with the Division Professsional Licensure Board. Have not heard anything back yet. The owner of Bay State, Dana MacName ruined the last days of my cat's life! I had to go outside with him because he he no claws and could not defend himself. Dana told me I should have marked on the cat carrier that it was an outdoor cat... WHAT, really!... The nerve ... trying to make it look like it was my fault! Anyway they pretty much declawed my cat! Dam them. Also the owner would not give me name of the vet tech who declawed my cat. I just felt so bad for my cat, Sinmin.
Rose Bedard - Comment
Rose Bedard10 Mar 2022Reply
I just clipped my cats nail..it was bleeding,,omg I feel like a bad human,,he went right on playing ,,I feel so guilty,,poor Bell 😔
MarkBell  - Comment
MarkBell 11 Mar 2022Reply
I made the same mistake as well today I was crying so much seeing my poor little cat in her finger bleeding knowing I caused the pain I'm almost scared to trim her nails again.
Richie - Comment
Richie12 Mar 2022Reply
This is one of the kindest forums I’ve ever seen. I just accidentally cut my cat’s nail short for the first time too. He was okay, but I feel upset about it. On this forum, I realized that the fact that we are coming here for support means the people here are kind-hearted and truly care about their animal companions. So I hope you may hold yourself with forgiveness that you were trying your best, because you really do care, and it’ll be okay. :) be well
Doreann - Comment
Doreann30 Mar 2022Reply
Wow I am so happy I found this article! I trimmed my cats nails and she doesn’t like it at all, so before I would trim one paw and give her some time to relax until I moved onto the next. We’ve moved up to her being fine with me trimming all her nails and oh my gosh I felt like I just took 10 steps back with cutting a little to short on the last nail this time. I felt guilty and heartbroken and in disappointment in the fact that I caused this pain on her and made her bleed :(
I’m going through all the emotions right now! I immediately started apologizing and giving her kisses and giving her so many treats in hopes that she felt the guilt that I had for what I’d done. She seemed to understand that I felt remorse and immediately started butting her head at my hand. I put the cornstarch on her nail and needless to say she seems to be doing just fine while I’m still trying to cope lol.
Mary - Comment
Mary09 May 2022Reply
This happened to me today, I was cutting her nails, my heart dropped to my stomach when I saw that one of her claws were bleeding. I was crying and panicking, shes such a sweet girl and let me cut her nails. At first I thought that I had declawed her! I was searching for help on the internet for that, but I soon realized that declawing is something completely different. I felt so scared and heartbroken thinking that I had caused her so much pain for the rest of her life when I looked at the symptoms of declawing. I am so happy that its not and that her nails will grow back again and she will be normal, thank God. I think that when you clip their nails you have to look for the pink part in the nails and be careful to avoid that part!
emma  - Comment
emma 17 May 2022Reply
I’m so glad I’ve come across this article. Been cutting our cats claws for years and trimmed one way too short today and I haven’t stopped crying. Phoned the Vet and they were so unhelpful. So many other websites are full of people being so judgemental and nasty! Thank you all for the kindness - will try to stop worrying! Our boy is taking it like a champ, isn’t limping and didn’t even yelp! Me on the other hand is an absolute state - feel like an awful cat mum :(
Doris - Comment
Doris13 Jun 2022Reply
We tried to clip our cat's front paws. We were fine until my husband accidentally clipped a nail too short and it started to bleed. Now, almost a week later, she is limping, actually hopping, around on 3 legs with her paw in the air. Not sure if it's infected or she was injured by one of our other cats. We, especially my husband feel so bad for her. Should we have done something to prevent infection. She didn't bleed very long. I've tried to see if her paw is warmer than the other and it doesn't seem to be. We feel so bad!
Carter  - Comment
Carter 15 Jun 2022Reply
This literally helped me so much. I just did this like a few minutes ago. My cat let out a small yelp, so when I looked I saw she was bleeding. I was so upset at myself and wanted to cry. I had to finish trimming the others and was a nervous wreck the whole time. I gave her a treat after, but I feel like I betrayed my cat’s trust after always making sure to keep her comfortable. She’s taking it a lot better than I am after that. She’s not limping and the bleeding stopped fast thankfully. I’m still shaken by that and so worried about it. I just hope she doesn’t stay afraid of trimming her nails or doesn’t lose her trust in me
K - Comment
K03 Oct 2022Reply
Me and my partner are housing our friends cat whilst they acclimate to their move overseas, for the past month and a half we have successfully trimmed this cute floof’s nails and he has always hated it. Tonight, we were tag-teaming hold-trimmer duo and he pushed against me and I nicked the nail too short and felt so bad. Thank you so much for this article. 🥲💔🫶🏻
Becidgreat  - Comment
Becidgreat 22 Nov 2022Reply
Holy NUTSBALLS my cat is PISSED! Holy crow …. Her stare is sharper than the claw I just cut too short. Man I’m seriously wondering if she’s mentally weighing out the pros and cons of letting me serve her still. I gave her milk treats and some more treats just incase.
Lisa - Comment
Lisa23 Mar 2023Reply
I have 4 cats. 3 of the 4 I can cute their nails no problem but my Pepper will act like I am killing her so I don't do. Today we took her to the vet for her yearly check up and I asked the vet to trim her nails and he did. He must have clipped one too short because about 25-30 minutes later after we got her home we noticed blood droplets all over the floor and she was bleeding pretty bad . So my husband took her back and got it to stop. Said she would be fine. My concern is her using the litter box. Has anyone else had this issue?
AMH - Comment
AMH02 Oct 2023Reply
Oh wow, this article and comment thread have helped a lot! I did this today and I feel like the absolute scum of the earth.
I’ve been clipping kitty claws for years now, but it’s a very different experience from my older cat to my three new kittens. I clipped them all today (their claws get wicked sharp) and while the girls did protest everything was fine…but then there’s the boy. He squirms a LOT, and I’m usually hunched over in order to restrain him and also to be able to see what I’m doing (they’re almost 6 months old but still so teeny). I have to be super fast at clipping before he squirms again, and this time I cut too short on two of his back foot claws. I didn’t notice at first, and thought he was just being extra stubborn when he cried. Then I saw some blood on the towel…yeah not a fun experience. I then looked up this article and pinched the tip between two fingers with a tissue (it’s not bleeding that bad, and the other one just had a tiny dot of red so not as bad).
I felt so bad, I gave him several treats afterward (was going to be just one but then his sister knocked over the bag and it became a free-for-all), and he seems to be walking just fine. I’ll probably feel really bad about it for a while though. Glad to know I’m not alone, at least!
ntmr - Comment
ntmr23 May 2024Reply
yea i accidently cut my cats nail too deep, she dosent cooperate with cutting so i have to coax her while playing with her and while she has a nail stuck in a toy i have to cut the nail, sometimes sacraficing part of the toy, buy unfortnatly one cut too deep and heard a yelp like a puppy would make :( luckaly it diddent seem to bleed much so it must of been just a tad too deep i hope. but getting her to coperate to put peroxide on dosent seem to be going well.

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