Bleeding Claw

A vet explains how to cut a cat's toenails and stop bleeding if the claw is clipped too short.

By Elaine Wexler-Mitchell, D.V.M.

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Q. What should I do if I cut a toenail too short and it bleeds?

Elaine WExler-Mitchell offers solutions to curb bleeding if a cat's nail is cut too shortElaine Wexler-Mitchell, D.V.M., says: If you regularly trim your cats toenails, it is a good idea to have some cautery powder or styptic pencils available. These items will stop bleeding. If you don't have either of these items available, touch the bleeding nail to an ice cube. This will cause the blood vessel to constrict and bleeding to slow. Cats lose a lot of blood from toenails that are broken or cut too short, but a cat will not lose so much blood that its dangerous.

When trimming your cats nails, use nail clippers specifically designed for pets. Cat nails are round, so when human nail clippers are used a cats nail gets crushed. If you look for the quick (the blood vessel in the nail that looks like a pink triangle) before cutting and cut below it, you will not have a problem with bleeding. If you have a problem seeing your cats toenails, vertically press the pad of each toe between your thumb and forefinger: this will exteriorize the nail. Always trim the nails in the same sequence so that you don't miss any of them. Cats normally have five toes on each front foot and four on each back. To play it safe when starting out, only cut the tip of the nail, and when you're more confident cut more. Toenails grow back every two to three weeks.




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Reprinted from Ask the Vet About Cats © 2003. Permission granted by BowTie Press.

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Reader Comments

Heather    Chicago, IL

7/27/2014 4:29:10 AM

What I have done in the past when I didn't have styptic powder is wrap two ice cubes in a napkin then place the cat's claw in the middle between the ice cubes and hold it there. It stopped the bleeding and it seemed to numb her pain as well because she calmed down quickly.

Janet    Bethlehem, PA

9/14/2012 3:02:26 AM

good article, Thanks for the info.

Laura    Tempe, AZ

4/29/2012 9:29:37 PM

Thank you so much for this article! I had cut my cats toe nail just a tiny bit too short. I feel so terrible! So after I quick google search of what to do, I found this.
His front paws are declawed but we left the back claws on. I trim them regularly to keep them not so long and sharp. He will be 14 on Tuesday and out of my 14 years as a cat mommy this has never happened! So you could imagine the terror I felt! Not a lot of blood was lost, it did clot quickly and cold water helped I guess.
Time to give him some cat treats for being such a good boy!

janet    bethlehem, PA

11/19/2010 4:54:14 AM

I don't clip nails any more. My boys use their scratcher and tall cat tree so don't bother the furniture

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