Outdoor cats typically will have their nails or claws wear down as they walk outside, and climb trees. But indoor cats’ claws don’t wear down as much even if they’re routinely using cat trees or cat scratchers. So to keep the nails at bay, and so we don’t get scratched up from our furry friends, we need to clip regularly.
Important features to consider
When it comes to cat nail clippers, there’s a lot of variety: scissors, pliers, guillotine styles, and grinders. Clippers often come with two handles, except grinders, and some come with springs to help reduce the effort in opening and closing.
If you have a cat that hates getting its claws cut, we recommend using scissors or pliers because it’s easier to maneuver a wriggly cat without hurting them. Most cats we know are a little skittish when getting their nails trimmed, so we would refrain from using grinders unless you know your cat is okay with noise and vibrations while getting their claws cut.
Safety / locking mechanism
Cutting your cat’s nails can feel scary, and having a safety or locking mechanism will help relieve this. The safety guard is a plate on the back of the nail clippers that prevents you from cutting too much of the nail. However, its effectiveness depends on the length of your cat’s nails. Once the claws are cut very short, the guard may not be effective.
A locking mechanism keeps the clippers closed when not in use and prevents other people or cats from hurting themselves on the sharp blades.
Blade material / build quality
A dull blade is a dangerous blade. Use nail clippers that are super sharp and durable so they last for a long time or can even be resharpened later. If you use dull blades on your cat’s nails, it may break their nails instead of cleanly cutting them. We recommend stainless steel blades because they are strong and don’t rust.
The build quality of the clipper body also adds to a better experience for you and your cat. Some cheaper nail clippers are made of low-quality plastic with sharp edges that make clipping claws uncomfortable. At the same time, other brands include silicone or rubber handles for a more comfortable grip.
Cat nail clippers can range in price from under $10 to over $30, depending on the type of clippers you purchase. On average, most clippers were about $10-$15, so you can find any kind of clippers that fit your and your cat’s needs. Most electric grinders were on the higher end, while the manual scissors or pliers were cheaper.
How we selected & tested:
We wanted to try different nail clippers like scissors, pliers, guillotines, and grinders. These are the four main types of clippers. We tested features like angled blades, LED light fixtures, safety guards, and different handle ergonomics within each variety. Lastly, we focused on several pricing levels. We tested these tools from under $10 to over $30 per nail clipper to see if they were worth the price or a steal.
We tried 10 different cat nail clippers for two months on our cat, Gob. He’s typically timid and scared to cut his claws, so it’s often a two-person job, but using some of these different nail clippers made it possible to have a better and less stressful experience. (Don’t worry, we spoiled him with lots of playtime with the best cat toys to make up for his help!) We made notes of specific styles and sizes, safety issues, and blade and overall quality of the products.
Shiny Pet - Pet Nail Clippers
The Shiny Pet nail clippers are our top choice because of their no-fuss, lightweight, scissor-style design. These are well-made and have an angled blade that helps get the perfect angle for cat nails, whether your cat is fussy or not.
The only issue we saw with the Shiny Pet nail clipper is the small size of the finger holes; they may be too small for larger hands but they worked well for small and medium fingers. The handles have a rubber coating that makes them soft and comfortable to hold. The blades were super sharp, which made cutting claws quick and easy.Read more…
These clippers don’t have a safety guard, but we sometimes find that safety guards can add to the bulkiness or hinder how much of the cat’s nail you can accurately see while cutting. The angled tip is slender and offers a lot of visibility when grooming our cat’s nails; this helps with fast and quick cuts and a happier cat.
Zen Clipper - Pet Nail Clippers
The Zen Clipper was our runner-up, and we were pleasantly surprised at how well they worked. Instead of two open blades facing each other, the Zen Clipper has a conical blade or a hole that slices from all sides. This design prevents nails from crushing while grooming—something I’ve seen makes our cat uncomfortable and the overall grooming experience unpleasant.
Like the Shiny Pet, these lightweight scissors may be too small for larger hands and seem better suited for small- or medium-sized fingers. These scissors also work for left- or right-handed parents.Read more…
When purchasing, you want to pick a size of scissor that fits your cat. Zen Clipper suggests a size small with a 2.5 mm hole for cats, which worked perfectly for Gob. If you have a kitten, you might want to downsize to an xx-small 1.5 mm nail clipper. What we love best is that we don’t have to be scared of over-clipping our cat’s nails—a constant cat parent’s fear.
Pawsibility - Pet Nail Clippers
Our top pick for a plier style nail clipper is the Pawsibility nail clippers. What we love best is that they not only come with a light for better visibility, but the sharp blades easily cut all animals’ claws, including cats and dogs.
The light is rechargeable using a micro USB that comes with the tool. Behind the blades, there’s also a removable container that catches all the clippings meaning there’s no mess! If you prefer to file your cat’s nails after clipping, there’s also a hidden nail file inside the handle that can fold out.Read more…
These pliers also work for both left- and right-handed fur parents, and you can close or open them with one hand. We wish there was another material on the handles, like rubber or silicone, for a better grip. At almost $25, it’s on the expensive end of the nail clippers we tested, but we think the quality and added features are worth the price for nail clipper pliers.
Pet Republique - Cat Nail Clippers
The Pet Republique nail clippers are good for cat owners who want a simple, budget-friendly, and scissor-style nail clipper. These are designed similarly to the Shiny Pet nail clippers, except the tip is flat and not angled.
Inside the handles are comfortable rubber ridges that help grip the small tool as you’re grooming your cat. Like the other scissor styles, this is a relatively small tool, and if you have larger hands, this may not be comfortable to hold while carefully cutting claws. However, the Pet Republique nail clippers could work for you if you want something inexpensive. They offer a 90-day money-back guarantee, so you can even test them and return them if they don’t work out.
Casfuy - Professional Nail Grinder
The Casfuy Professional nail grinder is similar to the GHG nail grinder, an electric grooming tool charged via a USB port. Grinders are typically used to help smooth out claws while grooming. However, we found that many of these grinders were designed with bigger animals in mind, like dogs. We liked that it came charged out of the box with two speed levels and a removable safeguard.
Unfortunately, like most grinders, the speed levels were too strong for most cats to be comfortable. We found the clipping process to take longer and be riskier because cat claws are small, and you need the cat to stay still long enough. Due to the higher price, we wouldn’t recommend this grinder unless you know your cat is comfortable with strong vibrations and longer grooming time.
Resco - Deluxe Nail Clippers
The Resco Deluxe nail clipper is a guillotine-style grooming tool that is pretty bare bones. Resco has been around since the 1970s, and all their clippers are made in the USA. These clippers feel durable in your hand, have rubberized handles for easy grip, and cut claws with one sharp blade that cuts upwards.
Resco also sells replaceable blades, and you can easily disassemble the tool for blade replacement. One issue we had with guillotine clippers was that you must cut the nails from the front of the paw, meaning you are facing your cat and their paws. If your cat is not fond of grooming, you may need two people to use this type of clipper; otherwise, it’s awkward to position your cat’s paws to cut the nails properly from the front.
GHG - Professional Nail Grinder & Trimmer (not recommended)
The GHG Professional nail grinder and trimmer set comes with a pair of plier clippers and a grinder. The grinder must be charged upon arrival using a USB and includes a light to help with visibility during grooming. The trimmer was similar to the Gonicc nail clippers we tested and also a little too large to use for most cats.
The instructions for these tools state that you should cut your pet’s nails with the clippers and then use the grinder to smooth the nails. Unfortunately, most cats don’t like added steps, so doing these two steps during grooming was challenging. Cats also help to smooth out their nails using scratching posts or pads, so we found using a grinder unnecessary for the most part.Read more…
The grinder itself is too powerful, even at the lowest level (there are a total of three speeds). We found it too strong for most cats and don’t recommend this tool.
Allstar Innovations - PetiCare Nail Clipper (not recommended)
Allstar Innovations PetiCare nail clipper is a guillotine-style grooming tool with a nail catcher and light that helps you see your cat’s claws. The first issue we had with this clipper was the packaging because it came wrapped in a hard plastic shell, and we had difficulty removing it.
When grooming our cat, we found that the blades weren’t as sharp, so it would end up crushing the nail or leaving pieces of the nail behind. This device came with a nail catcher, but the nail pieces fell through the catcher most of the time.Read more…
We appreciate that there are multiple options for lighting depending on how you hold the nail clipper, but we don’t think this was worth the price of $20 due to the ragged cuts.
Gonicc - Dog & Cat Pets Nail Clipper (not recommended)
The Gonicc nail clipper was the first grooming device we purchased, and we have used it for a few years. After testing other types, we are retiring it for nail clippers that are easier to maneuver with smaller, sharper blades. While it’s marketed as a cat nail clipper, we wouldn’t recommend it because the blades and safety guard are too large for a cat’s nails.
The space between the safety guard and the nails was too wide, and if we had followed the guidelines, we would’ve cut into our cat’s soft tissue. The blades were too big and not sharp enough, so it was harder to see what we were cutting, and we would often shred parts of the cat’s nails.
Millers Forge - Steel Nail Clipper 743C (not recommended)
The Millers Forge steel nail clippers most resembled pliers. They’re made with a single spring in the middle to help with the ergonomics of cutting your cat’s claws, and the rubber handles help with a comfortable grip.
However, we were not impressed with this clipper because the blades didn’t cut as smoothly as the other options, and the safety guard was too loose. The guard repeatedly kept falling, and there was no way to tighten it. We wouldn’t recommend these clippers because they made grooming take longer due to the lackluster blades and troublesome guard.