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What To Do If You Overcut Your Cat’s Nails

 by danielle on 23 Aug 2014 |
17 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.
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.
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!
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?
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
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.
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😢😢😢

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