New exhibitors often remark that they really aren't sure of the best way to clip their cats' nails and how much of the nail that they can safely clip. (and remember, show rules DO state that all cats' nails must be clipped!). Clipping nails is really fairly easy, once you and you cat get used to it.
Using the correct tool makes a lot of difference. Most exhibitors use clippers that look like small scissors with a notch on the end. (see photo). These have the advantage of being easy to use, will hold the nail in position. Sharp clippers will also make clipping claws much easier.
Clippers such as these have a small notched section on each blade that readily holds the nail
The Cat's Nail
The cat's nail is much like the human fingernail. The end portion of the nail is like the white portion of the fingernail. The quick is where the nerve endings and blood vessels are, and is like the human nailbed. It is pink and usually easily seen.
Gently press on the underside of the paw at the base of the nail and the cat will automatically extend that claw. If the cat is a longhair, sometimes wetting the fur will make it easier to see the nail. Some longhair exhibitors will clip nails just after the cat's bath for this reason. The nail itself is larger from top to bottom than it is from side to side. If your cat is sensitive' about having her nails clipped, you may find it easier to clip the nail from side to side as it puts less pressure on the nail and causes less sensation. (see photo below left) You can safely cut the nail up to a couple of millimeters past the quick (see diagram upper left)